President Joe Biden held on to his overall approval rating in the latest CNBC All-America Economic Survey but showed weakness in two key areas as the public’s views on the economy and the outlook for the virus soured.
In the poll of 802 American adults nationwide, 48% approved of the job Biden is doing as president, up a point from the first quarter. But his disapproval numbers grew to 45% from 41%.
The biggest change came in views on his handling of the coronavirus, where approval dropped 9 points to 53%; Biden’s economic approval fell to 42%, a decline of 4 points, or just beyond the poll’s 3.5-point margin of error.
“I think it all comes down to COVID,” said Jay Campbell, a partner at Hart Research Associates and Democratic pollster for the survey. “If the COVID situation had continued to improve the way it was improving in the first quarter, all of these numbers would look very different. And ultimately, someone has to be responsible for that. And right now it’s Joe Biden.”
The president’s ratings declined along with worsening views on the economy and the virus. The poll, conducted at the end of July, shows 51% of the public pessimistic about the economy and the outlook, the highest level since 2015. Just 22% give the economy positive marks and are optimistic.
“Surging Covid and rising inflation are creating a bleaker outlook throughout the next 12 months than we’ve measured since the 2008 recession,” said Micah Roberts, partner with Public Opinion Strategies and the Republican pollster for the survey. “Forty-three percent say the economy will get worse in the next year, tied for the highest we have measured since June 2008.”
Inflation also a concern
A bright spot: 59% said they believe they can find another job in the area where they live at similar or better pay. The confidence was evident across racial, income and age groups but was especially strong among 18-to-34-year-olds, a sign of a tight job market.
Asked about the most pressing two issues, respondents chose the coronavirus as their top concern, followed by a tie between immigration and inflation and then a tie between climate change and crime. Infrastructure, where the president has focused considerable efforts, is the least most important issue, chosen by just 4%.
The top priorities of the public overall mask substantial differences by party. While the virus and climate change are the main issues for Democrats, neither ranks in the top five for Republicans. Instead, Republicans says immigration, crime and inflation are their top issues. Independents said the virus was their top area of concern, followed by immigration, crime and inflation.
When it comes to the virus, Americans say that because of the delta variant they are concerned the nation could implement new restrictions: 73% said they are concerned there could be new lockdowns, 68% worried about a new surge in deaths and hospitalizations, 55% worried about mask mandates and 50% said it could delay the return of workers to their offices.
Inflation looks to be taking a bite out of spending. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they have taken at least one step to combat the rise in prices. The most frequent means has been to reduce spending on discretionary items, like eating out, but respondents also said they were driving less, traveling less and saving less money.