CNN poll: Biden’s approval rises, but domestic economic outlook remains bleak
Americans’ opinions of President Joe Biden have rebounded slightly from their gloomy outlook in the summer, according to a new CNN poll by SSRS. But the public assessment of the economy remains grim, and Americans remain unconvinced that Biden, Congress or the government as a whole is meaningfully addressing the major issues facing the country.
Biden’s overall jobs approval rating has recovered slightly from its worst summer slump: 44% of American adults approve, down from 38% in CNN polls in June and July. Biden’s ratings have risen 9 percentage points among Democrats and 8 points among Independents since that previous poll, with the president’s image also seeing a particularly marked improvement among black Americans (up 17 points) and Americans. adults under 45 (11 points). Enthusiasm for Biden’s presidency remains scarce, however, with about 15% of the public strongly approving of his overall job performance. In contrast, about 4 in 10 strongly disapprove.
Only 22% of Americans rate economic conditions in the country as good, with 41% rating calling conditions as somewhat poor and a further 37% saying they are very poor. The percentage saying conditions are good is a slight increase from 18% this summer. The public’s short-term outlook is somewhat more positive, with 40% expecting economic conditions in the country to be good a year from now, and only 26% expecting them to remain very bad. That optimism is mostly driven by Democrats, 63% of whom expect economic conditions to improve to this level by next year. Most independents and Republicans, on the other hand, expect conditions to remain poor during this time.
Biden’s ratings for dealing with economic issues, while improving from CNN’s last survey, remain below his overall approval rating. Only 32% of the public approve of his handling of inflation (compared to 25% in the summer) and 36% of his handling of the economy as a whole (compared to 30%). About 4 in 10 Americans currently approve of Biden’s handling of gun policy (37%), immigration (38%), helping the middle class (41%) or foreign affairs (42%) , with a majority of 55% approving the way it is handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Half of Americans say Biden’s policies have served to worsen economic conditions, 26% that his policies have improved conditions, and 24% that they have had no effect. That’s a slight improvement from a CNN poll taken in April and May, when 19% thought Biden’s economic policies were helping and 55% that they were making conditions worse. About half of Democrats (53%) now say Biden’s policies have helped, down from 45% in the spring, as do 20% of independents, down from 11%.
More generally, the public remains largely disappointed with the federal response to a range of economic and national issues. Most Americans say the US government is doing too little to reduce the violent crime rate (81%), reduce inflation (73%), protect democracy (72%), prevent a recession (72%) or help financially people like them (about 70%). In an exception to the general sentiment of further action, around half say the government is doing the right thing to control the spread of Covid, with the rest split between saying it is doing too much and too little.
Ahead of November’s midterm elections, a majority of Americans also take a dim view of efforts by national lawmakers to address the biggest issues: 62% say the current Congress has done nothing to address effectively the problems facing the country. Most Republicans (87%) and independents (67%) say Congress has done nothing effective, a view shared by only a third of Democrats.
Perceptions of the effectiveness of Biden and Congress are grimmer in 50 of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts than they are nationally. Just 31% of American adults living in those districts say Congress has done anything to effectively address the nation’s problems, and only 21% say Biden’s policies have improved economic conditions in the country. Biden’s job approval rating in those districts is 42%, similar to his national standing; its economic approval rating is 31%, slightly lower than the country as a whole.
Americans give Biden some credit for his work with lawmakers, polls show. About half, 49%, say he has demonstrated an ability to work effectively with Congress – with the share saying this includes 79% of Democrats, 50% of independents and nearly a fifth of Republicans. About half of American adults also credit Biden with being honest and trustworthy (48%) and caring about people like them (46%), though both of those numbers have dropped from majorities who have said the same in April 2021. Only about 41% think Biden will unite the country and not divide it, up from 53% last spring. And in the biggest shift, just over a third now consider Biden a trusted source (35%), down from 52% previously.
Only 41% of Americans think Biden is doing a good job of delivering on the important promises he made during the 2020 presidential campaign, down from 59% in April 2021. That’s less than his two predecessors heading into their first half-terms: 52% said Donald Trump was keeping his campaign promises in October 2018, while 51% said the same of Barack Obama in September 2010. About three-quarters of Democrats think Biden is doing a good job keeping his promises (75%), but younger Democrats are less likely than older Democrats to say so, with only about 57% of Democrats under 35 giving Biden credit for keeping his campaign promises.
The new CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from September 3 through October 5 among a random national sample of 1,982 adults initially contacted by mail. Surveys were conducted either online or by telephone with a live interviewer. The results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The survey includes an oversample of adults living in 50 competitive congressional districts, with districts chosen based on publicly available racial ratings at the time of sample selection. This subset was weighted according to its appropriate share of the overall US adult population.