A majority of Americans approved of Joe Biden at the start of his presidency, but his approval rating has since fallen to the low 40s, high 30s range.
Joe Biden approval rating
According to Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls, Biden has a 40.8% approval rating, the lowest out of the last three incumbent presidents running for re-election during the third year of their presidencies.
In September, Biden’s approval rating was 42% before slipping to 37% in October, according to Gallup. It was Biden’s lowest approval rating recorded by Gallup since April this year.
With the 2024 presidential election twelve months away, how does Biden’s approval rating compares to previous incumbents at this point in their presidency?
Biden’s approval rating vs past presidents during their third year.
In October during the third year of their presidencies, RCP recorded Donald Trump’s approval rating at 43.3%. Former President Barack Obama’s approval rating was 45% and President George W. Bush had a 52.5% favorability rating.
By the end of October 2019, Trump’s approval rating was 41% in the Gallup poll. A year later his favorability rating hit 46%, a week before he lost to Biden.
Obama’s approval rating was 43% at the end of October 2011. By October 2012, 50% of Americans approved of the job he was doing. In the final Gallup poll taken just before he was re-elected in the 2012 election, President Obama had a 52% approval rating.
In October 2003, President Bush’s approval rating was 53% according to Gallup. Bush won a second term in 2004 when his approval rating was 48% in the final Gallup poll taken before the election.
Should Biden be worried?
Historically, all incumbents with an approval rating of 50% or higher have won re-election. Bush was the only recent exception.
Though 50% is a pretty safe bet to remain in the White House, experts say there is no specific number that a president needs to hit before being re-elected.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence that there is some magic number that a president needs to hit,” George Washington University political science professor Dr. Danny Hayes, told Spectrum News. “Typically, what happens is that over the course of the campaign, as the president reminds his own voters and the public in general what he’s done, then that seems to increase his approval rating.”
President Biden and White House officials are doing just that. They have begun to travel around the country highlighting some of his major legislative victories, including the Inflation Reduction Act, the bipartisan infrastructure law and the CHIPs and Science Act, hoping to change public opinion.
Still, some experts are skeptical that Biden’s approval rating will ever climb to the levels it once was during the first few months of his presidency and that is mainly because of the hyperpartisan and polarized electorate.
“As has been the case for the last few presidencies, presidents just don’t have high approval ratings for very long anymore and part of that is just about partisanship and polarization,” Hayes said. “When you have a situation in the country like we have now, where roughly half of the country is almost automatically hostile to the president because he doesn’t share their party affiliation, that means that there’s a ceiling on how high a president’s approval ratings are ever going to go.”