- 38% say Biden, 24% say most members of Congress deserve reelection
- 55% say their own member of Congress is deserving of another term
- Biden's reelect score worse than prior incumbents early in election year
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fewer than four in 10 U.S. registered voters say President Joe Biden deserves to be reelected, while less than a quarter say the same about most members of the U.S. House. As is almost always the case, voters are more inclined to believe the U.S. representative from their own district should be returned to Congress, with 55% holding that view.
These results are based on a Jan. 2-22 Gallup poll. The 38% of voters who say Biden deserves a second term is slightly lower than the 41% of Americans who approve of the job he is doing in the same survey.
Voters are somewhat more willing to say Biden should be returned to office now than they were when Gallup last asked the question in June 2022 (33%), leading up to that year’s midterm elections.
As would be expected, the vast majority of Democratic registered voters (82%) versus few Republican voters (3%) believe Biden should be reelected. At 29%, independent voters’ support for a second Biden term is much closer to that of Republicans than Democrats.
Independents are the least likely party group to believe most members of Congress, and their own member, deserve to be reelected. Less than half of independents say their own representative should receive another term, compared with more than six in 10 Republicans and Democrats.
Biden in Relatively Weak Position Compared With Prior Incumbents
In January of prior incumbent reelection years, Gallup asked whether former Presidents Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush deserved reelection. The same question was asked about George W. Bush (October 2003) and Barack Obama (December 2011) late in the years before they sought reelection.
Of these, the younger Bush (who won reelection) had the highest reelect figure, at 53%, while two incumbents who lost, Trump at 50% and the elder Bush at 49%, scored just below. Although Biden’s current rating ranks lowest among the readings for the past six presidents, his 38% is most similar to Clinton’s 44% and Obama’s 43%, both of whom won a second term.
Biden can take some solace in the fact that voter sentiment about whether a president deserves reelection has often changed over the course of prior election years.
After receiving subpar reelection support early on, Obama and Clinton saw significant improvement, resulting in election wins:
- Obama’s late 2011 figure of 43% improved to 50% by the time of the 2012 election.
- Clinton’s numbers improved over the course of the election year, moving from 44% in early January 1996 to 56% in May, before he was reelected in the fall of that year.
Conversely, two presidents saw their promising early readings dwindle between January and Election Day, to the point that they lost their reelection bids:
- The percentage of voters backing a second term for Trump fell from 50% to 43% by the fall of 2020.
- The elder Bush’s path was similar to Trump’s -- with 41% in July 1992, down from 49% in January, saying Bush deserved reelection before he too was defeated.
The younger Bush’s reelection figures hovered around the 50% mark in three surveys leading up to the 2004 election, before he won a second term.
Sentiment Toward Congressional Incumbents Relatively Poor
Today’s congressional reelection figures are also lower than is typical for early readings in presidential election years. Slightly fewer U.S. registered voters in 2012 and 2016 thought their local representative deserved to be reelected than do now, but 60% or more did so in other years.
The 24% who believe most members deserve reelection is lower than in all recent presidential election years except 2012, when 20% held that view in the late 2011 survey. The current figure is similar to that from 2016, but in all other years, 35% or more thought most members should be reelected, including a majority of 56% in 2000.
Voters’ opinions of whether members of Congress deserve reelection have usually not changed much over the course of presidential election years. There have been exceptions, though -- as in 1992, when voters became much less inclined to want to reelect members, and in 2012, when there were modest increases in incumbent reelection sentiments.
Voters are not enthusiastic about returning most elected federal officials to office. Biden trails other incumbents at similar points in their presidencies, and voters are less likely than in other recent election years to say members of Congress deserve reelection.
While the numbers for Congress are unlikely to improve, based on historical patterns, Biden’s numbers could. He hopes to follow the paths of Clinton and Obama, whose electoral fortunes improved during their reelection years and saw them win second terms, rather than those of Trump and the elder George Bush, whose support for a second term deteriorated over the course of the election year.
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