As he approaches the 100th day of his presidency, Joe Biden’s approval rating remains at levels not achieved by his predecessor.
Upon taking office in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had promised an unprecedented package of measures in his first 100 days. He did not disappoint, and since that time much attention has been attached to the performance of the presidents of the United States in the early term of their administration. On Friday, Joe Biden would hit the 100-day threshold and wasn’t idle either. At least as far as popular support is concerned, it can be said that it has passed the test.
Clear majority of approvals
By observing the evolution curve of Joe Biden’s approval rate, three observations are clear. Firstly, although there was some discrepancy between the surveys, the trend remained relatively stable, with an approval rate ranging between 52.5% and 55.1% and a rejection rate between 34, 0% 40.9%, according to the average of the surveys collected by FiveThirtyEight.
This stability contrasts with a certain volatility usually observed at the start of the mandate, which can be explained, among other things, by the greater polarization of the electorate. Americans are more entrenched in their positions than they have been in a long time, and there is far less movement in these types of measures than in the past.
Second, Biden is overwhelmingly in favor. If his approval rating is slightly lower than that of Barack Obama in the same period, it compares to that of many relatively new presidents, from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. This bodes well for the current president.
Third, Biden’s acceptance rating is significantly higher than his immediate predecessor at the start of his term. In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight Index, the best result of Donald Trump’s approval (47.8%, look here) In its first week and quickly slipped past 46%. In short, even at its lows, Biden’s acceptance rating is higher than Trump’s best rating ever.
Why is Biden so popular?
One can only say that the main reason Joe Biden is so popular is that he is not Donald Trump. This is not a mistake, but it is not all.
First, Biden works better with members of the opposite party and independents than his predecessors. Also remarkably, according to opinion polls, support for Biden ranges from 87% to over 95% among Democrats. This near-unanimous support is surprising when you consider that the left wing of the party and supporters of Bernie Sanders have been somewhat lukewarm about rallying the Biden nomination for 2020 and that the party has a tradition of disunity. Do we need to remember that Donald Trump has never failed to publicly gargle with similar endorsement among Republicans?
More reliable indications of Biden’s source of support can be found when examining the approval details of each of the major areas of focus of his presidency, particularly those areas that voters regard as a priority: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and jobs. The results of a Ipsos scan (April 15), Approval of Biden’s performance is the highest on the issues people prioritize.
The same trend is observed in another detailed survey by her Pew Institute. In addition to noting Biden’s 59% approval rating, Bew notes that the public is significantly more positive in evaluating the administration’s performance in managing vaccine production and distribution than it was with the previous administration.
As for the $ 1,900 billion aid package that passed without a single Republican vote in Congress, the Pew Center sees support at around 67%, including 35% of Republicans.
The most problematic area for Biden is immigration. Illegal immigration is still seen as a priority issue for a large portion of the population, and the Biden administration’s performance in this area is judged somewhat harshly by public opinion. Little wonder that Republicans devote so much of their energy to highlighting the difficulties the Biden administration faced on the southern border after the refugee influx, even before the new administration could make any changes in the field.
Avoid mistakes of the past
Usually, the “honeymoon” period enjoyed by the new president at the start of his term can be partly explained by the desire of some opposition party representatives to join the more popular initiatives of the new administration. This is definitely not the case this time. Republican rhetoric in this regard is somewhat confusing. On the one hand, Republicans demand that Democrats be bipartisan, and on the other hand, almost all Republicans end up opposing everything the Democrats propose.
President Biden is doing a good job sailing these murky waters for several fairly obvious reasons. First, in stark contrast to his predecessor, the tone of his speech remains one of reconciliation. And a group of Americans are also aware, according to opinion polls, that the political climate has improved dramatically in the past 100 days. There is still a long way to go on this front, as news channels like Fox News continue to fuel divisions.
Second, President Biden’s intervention agenda is generally well perceived in public opinion, and the White House communications team seeks to keep the focus on priority issues in the public eye while avoiding messing around and drowning in sterile ideological or partisan disputes. In short, Biden’s communications strategy is to do what the public demands and organize it so that the public knows it. In the words of Biden himself, one can better judge the partisan character of the initiative by investigating the will of the Republican public rather than by counting the votes of Republican lawmakers in Congress.
This leads to the most important reason Biden has been relatively successful to date, and it is leading many to believe that he may succeed in driving his massive infrastructure program despite Republican resistance, so that most initiatives similar to his former president Barack Obama could fail.
Is it because Joe Biden is a better politician than Barack Obama? Not necessarily, but it can certainly be said that he learned from the latter’s mistakes. For example, when adopting a stimulus plan to confront the crisis in 2009, Obama did his best to present a balanced program, including most Republican priorities and intentionally dampening the enthusiasm of the Democratic Left. calendar? For all the Obama administration’s bend, hardly any Republican has moved in favor of the stimulus package.
Biden will not repeat this kind of error. In fact, he takes it for granted that Republicans in Congress will collectively oppose whatever he proposes, but he is nonetheless sensitive to the demands of moderate Republican voters, knowing that if he delivers the goods, the voters will be on time.
As he made clear in the COVID-19 bailout case, Biden is determined to include some Republican priorities in his plans, but without compromising his party’s priorities in advance. Either way, in order to win all the Democratic votes in Congress, he desperately needs to get anything, especially those from a handful of so-called moderate Senators, Biden will necessarily have to come up with a balanced plan that will appeal to a large portion of Canadians. And Republican and Independent electors.
Will Biden manage to rise to a much higher level and bring enough support in his wake to consolidate his majority in Congress in 2022? It is too early to tell, but it started from an enviable position. If the United States manages to defeat the epidemic forever and return to the path of economic prosperity, this scenario is not excluded.
* * *
Pierre Martin is Professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal and in charge of the Chair of American Political and Economic Studies at CÉRIUM.