Confidence in Biden economic management is in sharp decline, Pew poll finds
P ublic confidence in President Joe Biden’s handling of major issues such as the economy has fallen off dramatically since the start of his first year, a new survey found.
A Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday found that Biden’s approval rating has been in decline most of this year. His approval among adults now sits at 41%, down from a high of nearly 60% in April of last year when Pew asked the same question.
The public has also soured on Biden’s handling of specific issues. A minority of people, 44%, said that they were either very or somewhat confident in the president’s ability to make sound decisions about economic policy. That is a sizable drop from the 56% who said the same when they were asked that question in March.
Since March, inflation has skyrocketed. Annual inflation has risen from 2.6% in March of last year to 7% in December, the fastest pace since 1982. Because of the higher prices, the Federal Reserve is planning several interest rate hikes this year, which some economists fear could harm markets and crimp the recovery.
The public perception of Biden’s ability to handle the public health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is also in retreat. Back in March, some 65% said they were confident in Biden’s ability to manage the pandemic — that number now rests at 44%, a decline of more than 20 percentage points.
Nearly half of those surveyed in March said they were confident in the president’s ability to bring the country closer together, but now just 30% think he can help build national unity. Confidence in Biden’s ability to make wise decisions about immigration policy slumped 13 points from March to 40%, and confidence in his ability to deal with China declined to 39%, from 53% just months earlier.
The country is also divided regarding expectations of the year ahead, with just 27% saying that they expect economic conditions to be better a year from now. Thirty-seven percent think it will be about the same and 35% anticipate economic conditions to be worse going into 2023. Among Republicans, about 1 in 10 predict an improving economy, and among Democrats, 38% think the same.
Looking back, a majority of respondents said they think most facets of the economy have deteriorated over the past year. Inflation was the area where people saw the most decline, with nearly 90% saying that prices for food and consumer goods have gotten worse.
Eighty-two percent said gasoline prices have gotten worse, about 8 in 10 cited housing costs, 68% said the federal budget deficit, and 55% said healthcare costs have worsened. The stock market and availability of jobs were outliers, with just 32% and 19%, respectively, saying that those areas have deteriorated. Fifty-six percent of respondents said the availability of jobs has improved.
The numbers bear out the situation among the public. Many employers are struggling to recruit workers and have had to raise wages and provide incentives to lure workers in. About 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November, up from 4.2 million the month before . The number of people quitting is the highest since the country began keeping records of the statistic about two decades ago and is equivalent to about 3% of the workforce.
Even as nearly 75% of those aged 12 and up have been fully vaccinated, the country is evenly divided over the future risk the pandemic poses. Forty-nine percent of respondents believe the worst of the pandemic is now behind us, compared to exactly half who said the worst is still to come.
In a more general sense, national satisfaction has been falling since the start of 2021. About a year ago, 1 out of 3 people said they were satisfied with the way things in the country were going. That number has since declined to a mere 21%. A total of 78% said they are dissatisfied, up from 66% a year ago.
The numbers don’t bode well for Biden and the Democrats heading into an election year.
Democrats hold both chambers of Congress only by the slimmest majorities, with the Senate evenly divided and Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote. Given that the party not in power typically gets a bump during midterm elections, the polling shows that Democrats might be in for a walloping come November.
If Republicans take control of Congress, policymaking will become even more difficult for Biden as his agenda will face resistance. The president has already had trouble gaining enough votes for some of his priorities, such as the Build Back Better plan, even with Congress under Democratic control.