As Biden’s presidency hits the halfway mark of his term on January 20, 43.6 percent of Americans approve of the work he’s doing, according to the latest polling.
The number of those supporting the president is not as low as it was only a few months ago but is still lingering near the lowest of his presidency. When he entered the White House in January 2021, a majority of Americans looked at him favorably.
How did so many Americans lose faith in the president, and why?
When the president was sworn into office on January 20, 2021, some two weeks after a mob of Donald Trump‘s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, 53 percent of Americans looked at him favorably, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The president had several significant issues to tackle upon entering the White House, including rekindling international relationships that had gone sour under the Trump administration, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, addressing social and racial injustice in the country and reviving the suffering U.S. economy.
For about the first half of Biden’s first year in office, the American public appeared to have faith in the president keeping up with his campaign’s promises of tackling all the issues listed above. In those first six to seven months, his approval rating ranged between a peak of 54.8 percent and a low of 51.5 percent.
But everything changed that August when Biden ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The seemingly hasty move marked the return in power of the Taliban, putting an end to the U.S. “forever war” in Afghanistan in a way that many felt risked undoing recent gains for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.
On August 28, 2021, Biden’s approval rate among the American public dropped to 47.2 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. After that, the president’s approval rating continued plunging, never to recover—as of yet—above that 47 percent mark.
On July 21, 2022, Biden’s approval rate, at 37.5 percent, was at the lowest in his presidency. As of August 24, 2022, one year after the president’s approval rate had started plunging, some 40.9 percent of Americans looked favorably at the president and his work.
That was lower than many of his predecessors at the same time in their presidencies, including Trump (41.5 percent), Barack Obama (45.2 percent), George W. Bush (65.9 percent), and Bill Clinton (43 percent).
Starting from late August, Biden’s approval rate continued surging following some key breakthroughs in the Biden administration’s agenda, including the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, plunging gas prices, strong employment numbers, cooling inflation, and the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
With two more years of Biden’s presidency ahead, there’s a chance that the president’s approval rate could shoot back up to the levels of January 2021—or plunge further down.
The now Republican-controlled House could represent a challenge to the policies pushed by the Biden administration in the coming months, and investigations into the president and his family will likely be the focus of the new Congress. So far, polls do not show that the discovery of classified documents in Biden’s former office in D.C. and his home in Delaware has negatively impacted his approval rate.