It’s been a rapid descent for Biden. As late as June, 56% approved of how he was doing while only 40% disapproved. The decline began in July (50% approve/46% disapprove) and in August roughly the same number approved (49%) as disapproved (48%).
(Partisans have been remarkably consistent; Roughly 9 in 10 Democrats approved of Biden’s presidency while single-digit percentages of Republicans feel the same.)
Biden’s struggles of late put him in company he would prefer not to keep: Only Donald Trump — at 37% — among recent presidents had a lower approval rating at this point of their presidency. Both Barack Obama (52%) and George W. Bush (51%) had the approval of a majority of the country in September of their first year in the White House.
Biden’s polling ebb could not come at a worse time for his presidency. Right now, Congress is embroiled in a series of critical fights — most notably over a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget bill, which, taken together, form the crux of Biden’s entire first-term agenda. There’s also consternation — and confusion — over raising the debt limit and funding the government.
All of these crises would be more manageable for Biden if he was in a stronger position with the American public. If, say, he was at 55% or even 60% approval, Biden’s ability to cajole warring moderate and liberal forces in the House would be significantly higher. All politicians are aware of the leverage I(or lack thereof) that a president has over them — and act accordingly.
All of it is bad for Biden and his party in Congress. The confluence of his faltering poll numbers with the single most critical week, legislatively speaking, of his presidency creates a vicious cycle that makes a positive outcome for Democrats less and less likely.