Last updated on May 23, 2022
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain tried to downplay President Joe Biden’s collapsing approval ratings Sunday, after just one poll showed Biden with a slight improvement in approval rating.
“I hate to spoil the narrative but this poll shows @potus approval rating moving up, and solid public confidence on the two biggest problems he inherited: COVID and jobs,” Klain tweeted from his official Twitter account Sunday afternoon. Klain was referring to a CBS News poll which showed that Biden’s approval rating ticked up slightly, and that a slight majority of voters are optimistic about the Biden administration’s efforts in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the job prospects in their community.
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) May 22, 2022
There are a number of problems with Klain’s analysis of the poll. First, while Biden’s approval ticked up two points from April to May, the poll has a margin of error of 2.5%, which means that increase is negligible.
Second, the majorities who were optimistic about COVID and jobs were very slight. Meanwhile, the worst of the COVID pandemic has been over for months, and according to other recent polls, the pandemic as an issue is at the very bottom of voters’ minds.
Digging deeper, the CBS poll contains other numbers that spell trouble for the Biden administration. Large majorities of Americans described the state of the country as “uneasy” (63%), “worrying” (63%), or “frustrating” (61%); 69% of Americans said the economy was bad, the highest number on record; nearly three-quarters of Americans, 74%, said things in America are going badly: 77% of Americans said they were concerned about the cost of goods and services; 68% were concerned about the national economy, and 67% about the stock market; 57% were concerned about their plans for retirement.
Respondents also soured on Biden’s handling of key issues: his approval rating on the economy stood at just 36%, with 64% disapproval; on inflation, just 30%, with 70% disapproval; on Russia-Ukraine, 47% approval, 53% disapproval; on immigration and on crime, 40%-60%.
Furthermore, a majority of Americans, 65% said that Biden is “too slow to react” when important issues come up; another majority, 55%, said that Biden does not fight hard to address the country’s problems; and just 19% of respondents said that Biden cares about their needs and problems “a lot.” In contrast, 25% said Biden only cares “some” about their problems, 22% said “not much,” and a plurality, 34%, said Biden does not care about their needs and problems at all.
Furthermore, contrary to Klain’s assertion, the CBS poll does not “spoil the narrative” around Biden’s approval rating, which continues to collapse. A growing number of polls are showing that Biden’s approval has dropped below 40%: an Associated Press/NORC poll conducted last week had Biden’s approval at just 39%, the lowest of his presidency; an IBD/TIPP poll earlier this month also had his approval at 39%, as did a Monmouth poll; recent polling from Civiqs showed Biden at just 34%, and underwater in 47 out of 50 states; a Quinnipiac poll showed him with an approval rating of just 35%, while also showing that his support among Hispanics is less than half of what it was in 2021. According to FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s average approval rating is at the lowest of his presidency, at 40.7%. Biden is also slightly below former President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in their respective presidencies.