Updated May 8, 2023, 12:33pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Why Biden has a historically low approval rating

REUTERS/Leah Millis

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The News

U.S. President Joe Biden faces an increasingly steep hill to climb as the 2024 election campaign heats up.

According to a new Washington Post–ABC News poll, Biden’s approval has reached a historic low, with only 36% of the country approving of his term so far — the lowest of any first-term president a year and a half away from the next election.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the biggest concerns voters have about the president.

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Know More

His age

Biden is 80 years old and the oldest president in U.S. history running for reelection. Should he win, he will be 86 by the end of his second term.

His age appears to be one of his biggest vulnerabilities and a point of concern among both Republicans and Democrats, according to pollsters. A word cloud generated from polls conducted by NBC News showed that respondents associated Biden with the phrases “too old,” “age,” “mental health,” and “ineffective.”

In response to concern’s about the president’s age, the White House has attempted to frame him as a young soul. Biden is often seen donning a pair of aviator sunglasses. In his reelection campaign video, he appears jogging in a suit.

His son

Despite downplaying the laptop scandal in 2020, Biden and his son Hunter are suffering from the fallout after Republicans pushed a troubled Biden junior into the spotlight in an attempt to smear the president’s reputation.

Federal prosecutors are now deciding whether to pursue charges against Hunter Biden for allegedly lying about his personal income and his drug use prior to purchasing a gun. Strategists are worried the president will only be able to compartmentalize so much anger from attacks on his son before he snaps, setting up months of an ugly campaign.

The border

Critics of Biden say that the president has not done enough to address border security issues, with Republicans complaining that there has been a soaring number of migrant encounters at the border with Mexico.

New data, however, shows that there has been a significant drop in illegal border crossings since December, which some analysts attribute to Biden’s announcement in early January that Mexico would take back Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans under a pandemic-era rule that denies asylum as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The debt negotiations

Just weeks away from a potential debt default, Biden is finally meeting with Republican leaders in Congress in an effort to avoid economic catastrophe.

But it might already be too late for him to negotiate any big win for Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter). And as Semafor’s Jordan Weissmann writes, it will likely take some sort of shock — like markets starting to panic — to prod any meaningful compromise, stirring more nationwide chaos.

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Room for Disagreement

Some pundits believe Biden’s hopes for reelection lie in his party’s ongoing fight for abortion rights. Polls conducted in recent months suggest that abortion has become a much more serious issue for voters ever since the fall of Roe v. Wade, with some Fox News hosts arguing that Republicans are not recognizing just how worried voters are about their right to choose.

But the challenge is now branding Biden as a champion of the pro-choice movement to woe independent voters. The President historically avoids the word “abortion” in speeches and only briefly mentioned the topic during his State of the Union address in February.

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The View From China

Chinese political analysts agree that any 2024 victory will maintain a “tough on China” stance. But Beijing appears to be more eager for a Biden win over a Republican opponent under the optimism that he is more likely to push policies aimed at mending trans-Pacific relations.


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