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Somewhat disapprove: Why Biden’s approval ratings are very misleading

By Lee Cleveland, FightSaga - May 20, 2023

From a historical standpoint, President Joe Biden’s approval ratings haven’t been stellar – But in these days of extreme polarization, what would have been poor years ago could conceivably be fairly decent today.

On March 29, 2023, Biden’s Quinnipiac job approval rating sat at only 37% while 57% disapproved of him.

Twenty years ago, a president would have been in dire straits with those numbers but that’s not necessarily the case today.

Upon further review, most voters who “somewhat disapprove” of Biden would still vote for him over former President Donald Trump. Hence, head-to-head Biden is still the preferred candidate, 48 to 46%. Granted, in order for Biden to win, he’ll undoubtedly have to increase the distance between himself and Trump between now and election time. (But, that’s for another article)

The key stat is Biden’s unusually high strength among voters who “somewhat disapprove” of the job he’s doing.

President Biden’s Favorability Among Voters
Courtesy of Quinnipiac

Published March 29, 2023

Quinnipiac University

Based on the aforementioned survey conducted by Quinnipiac, it was revealed that even among the 12% of voters who “somewhat disapprove” of President Biden, he still beats Trump 48 to 37% head to head.

Similarly, a poll by The Wall Street Journal also supports this finding.

In this poll, 8% of respondents who “somewhat disapprove” of Biden’s job performance still choose him over Trump in a head-to-head matchup. And the margin, in this case, is even more significant, with 66% of those respondents indicating they would vote for Biden, while only 19% would choose Trump.

Bottomline: These results suggest that even voters who may not approve of President Biden still consider him a better option than Trump. And this could have important implications for the upcoming election as it highlights the importance of the nuances of voter opinions.

What about Biden vs Gov. Ron DeSantis?

In the same Quinnipiac University survey, even among those who “somewhat disapprove” of President Biden also prefer him to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a hypothetical presidential matchup. The poll found that “somewhat disapprovers” support Biden over DeSantis by 19 points, with 54% backing the President and only 35% supporting the Florida Governor.

Another survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News also found that those who “somewhat disapprove” of Biden picked him over DeSantis by a margin of 50% to 32%.

Again, Biden can’t win with a 37% favorability rating. However, if he’s sitting in the mid-40s by election time, he’ll be in a much stronger position, electorally, than previous incumbents whose approval ratings were that low on Election Day.

These findings are significant because they suggest that Biden’s disapproval ratings can’t be compared to those of previous presidents and are not necessarily a predictor of his electoral chances.