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Biden approval rating drops despite wide support for his signature policies

Biden approval rating drops despite wide support for his signature policies
The poll makes grim reading for Democrats as they try to move forward with the President’s fractured agenda and recover from last week’s election shocks

Joe Biden’s approval rating among American voters has fallen despite widespread support for his infrastructure and social safety net bills.

A new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News found that only 41 per cent of voters somewhat or strongly approved of the President’s performance, down from 52 per cent in April, while 52 per cent disapproved.

If elections were held today, 46 per cent said they would back the Republican candidate for Congress compared to 43 per cent for Democrats, and among registered voters the difference was even higher at 51 to 41 per cent.

The poll will make grim reading for Democrats as they seek to recover from last week’s election loss in Virginia and get Mr Biden’s flagship social spending and climate change resilience bill through Congress by the end of the year.

Democrats in the House of Representatives, with help from a handful of Republicans, last week finally signed off on a $1.2 trillion (£890 billion) bipartisan infrastructure bill after furious negotiations between the party’s centrist and progressive wings.

House progressives had hoped to withhold their support for the infrastructure bill until centrists in the Senate agreed to pass the $1.75 trillion social bill, which originally proposed twice as much spending. They decided to move forward last week after the election bloodbath and promises of support from Mr Biden.

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The Post/ABC poll, conducted by telephone between 7 and 10 November with a weighted sample of 1,001 adults, suggested that 63 per cent of Americans support the infrastructure bill and 58 per cent support the social bill, compared to 32 per cent and 37 per cent against.

Yet the share who agreed with Mr Biden’s handling of the economy fell by 13 points from 52 per cent in April to 39 per cent now, and approval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic dropped by 18 points from 65 per cent to 47 per cent.

Just under half of blamed Mr Biden for the current rate of inflation, which hit a 31-year high last month as gasoline prices surged by more than half from the same time last year and basic foodstuffs became more expensive.

Economists say the price hikes are driven by a combination of higher business costs due to supply shortages and disruptions, rapidly rising wages, “pent-up demand” as Americans spend money that they held back during lockdown, and the pandemic stimulus money pumped into the economy by Mr Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump.

Mr Biden scored especially badly on accomplishments as presidents, with only 35 per cent saying he had managed “a great deal” or a “good amount” vs 63 per cent for “not much” or “little or nothing”. Just 31 perc ent said he was keeping most of his major campaign promises.

Americans’ view of the economy overall has also tanked, with 29 per cent giving a positive opinion and 70 per cent giving a negative opinion compared to 42 per cent and 58 per cent in April.

The Democratic Party’s lead on education, historically a strength, slipped to just three points as Republicans across the country joined the backlash against anti-racist material in school under the catch-all epithet of “critical race theory”.

The poll’s margin of error was 3.5 percentage points, meaning the actual levels of support could be 3.5 points higher or lower.