(Trends Wide) — About nine months into his presidency, Joe Biden is about to write his name in the history books, and not in a good way.
The latest Gallup poll puts the president’s approval at just 42%, the lowest of his term to date and the second-lowest of any president that Gallup has measured at this point in a presidency for nearly the past five decades.
Here’s a look at Biden’s approval compared to his predecessors in the Gallup polls (all of this data courtesy of Gallup’s excellent Presidential Approval Center):
* Biden 42% (272 days in his presidency)
* Donald Trump 37% ( 283 días)
* Barack Obama 52% (271 days)
* George W. Bush 88% (288 days)
* Bill Clinton 47% (271 days)
* George HW Bush 70% (289 days)
* Ronald Reagan 53% (286 days)
* Jimmy Carter 54% (277 days)
(It is worth noting that both Bushes had enormously high audience ratings at this stage in their presidencies thanks to external events. In the case of George W. Bush, he was still in the stratosphere in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As for George HW Bush, his numbers were inflated after the attack on Tiananmen Square in China in June 1989 and the end of the Cold War).
Biden’s numbers have plummeted in Gallup polls in recent months. In June, a solid majority (56%) of the country approved of the work he was doing. That number began to collapse in late summer, going from 49% approval in August to 43% in September, and has remained at that low number for most of the fall.
The reasons for the decline in Biden’s polls are clear: a confluence of events including a disastrous withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the spike in covid-19 cases due to the delta variant, supply chain problems and a focus on the ongoing struggles of the President and Democrats in Congress to pass most of their national agenda.
Some of those developments, most notably the emergence of the delta variant and its devastation of the unvaccinated in the country, are not Biden’s fault. But when you’re president, you have to take responsibility for what goes wrong in the country, whether or not it’s your fault. And that’s where Biden is.
Now, it’s worth noting, as the numbers above make clear, that where a president is in the approval of the job nine months into his term doesn’t always predict what he will look like when he runs for a second term. George HW Bush lost reelection despite being at 70% 280 days into his presidency. The same goes for Jimmy Carter and his 54% approval rating at this stage. Bill Clinton won despite being below 50%.
The real danger in Biden’s current approval rating stagnation is for his party’s candidates in the upcoming midterm elections. If a president’s approval rating is less than 50%, his party loses an average of 37 seats in the House of Representatives. Average!
In 2018, Trump’s approval rating in the last Gallup poll before the election bogged down just above 40 points and Republicans lost 40 House seats (and most). By 2010, Obama’s approval rating had dropped to 45% and Democrats lost 63 seats (and most). In 1994, Clinton’s approval rating was 46% and the Democrats lost 53 seats (and most).
You get the idea. The evidence is pretty conclusive, and nothing points to good news for Democrats in 2022.
Now, of course, it is worth noting that this is the end of October 2021, not the end of October 2022. And that if Biden and the Congressional Democrats can find a way to compromise on both the “tough infrastructure plan” “As in the social safety net legislation, the Democrats may well have an attractive package of achievements to sell to voters next November. There is also the reality that trend lines in covid-19 cases are heading lower, and if that continues, Biden could benefit from an improved overall outlook among the population.
But right now, Biden’s approval rating struggles put his party in a terrible political position, and one for which they have limited ability to control.