August 10, 2022

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CNN Poll: Most Americans are unhappy with Biden, the economy and the state of the country

CNN Poll: Most Americans are unhappy with Biden, the economy and the state of the country

Biden’s approval rating in the poll was 38%, with 62% disapproving. His approval ratings for economics (30%) and inflation (25%) are significantly lower. Rising costs are a primary economic pressure for most Americans: 75% consider inflation and the cost of living the most important economic problem facing their families. Last summer, that percentage was 43%.

With the midterm elections approaching, the poll found no indication that Biden’s standing in the public is improving — and among some crucial constituencies, it’s getting worse. Among Democrats, for example, Biden’s approval numbers have fallen by 13 points since the spring (from 86% in late April through early May to 73% now), while his numbers among Independents and Republicans have remained equal. Biden’s approval rating among Democrats for dealing with the economy is also declining (62% agree, down from 71% this spring). And as for inflation, it’s barely above water (51% agree, 47% disagree).

Among people of color, 45% now approve of Biden’s overall performance, down from 54% in the spring. This decrease includes a decrease of 6 points among black adults and 9 points among Hispanic adults. Ratings of Biden’s approval of the economy and inflation now break negative among black adults, who have been among the president’s strongest supporters (47% agree and 52% disapprove of the economy, while 34% agree and 65% disapprove of inflation).

Few Americans who agree with Biden’s overall performance say they do so aggressively. Overall, only 12% strongly approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency, compared to 43% who said they strongly disapprove of his work. Only 28% of Democrats strongly agree, while among Republicans, strong disapproval is almost universal at 84%.

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Public perceptions of the economy and how things are going in the country in general are very negative and getting worse. Since the spring, the percentage saying things are going bad for the country has risen 11 points to 79%, the highest since February 2009, and just four points shy of its worst in November 2008. The shift comes largely among Democrats. Only 38% of Democrats now say things are going well in the country, down from 61% this spring. Likewise, there has been a sharp decline among people of color, from 41% who said things were going well in the spring to 27% now.

Only 18% of Americans described the state’s economy as doing well, while 82% said economic conditions were poor. About 4 in 10 (41%) describe the economy as “extremely weak,” up 11 points since spring and nearly doubling since December. As some economists warn of a looming recession, most Americans believe the country already exists. The survey found that 64% of Americans feel the economy is currently in a recession, higher than stocks that said so before the Great Recession (46% felt that way in October 2007) and the recession that began in 2001 (44% said so. The country already was in recession on Feb 01). A cross-party majority says the country is already in a recession, including 56% of Democrats, 63% of Independents and 76% of Republicans.

When asked to identify the biggest economic problem facing their families today, 75% mentioned an issue related to the cost of living or inflation, including 38% who mentioned inflation and rising costs in general, 29% mentioned gas prices, and 18% mentioned the cost of food. All of these numbers have increased sharply since last summer. One survey participant said, “The prices on everything keep going higher and higher. Are they going to stop?” Another said, “I work more than 40 hours and can barely afford to live. With gas prices and food prices so high, I don’t see how anyone can get extra money to do anything other than work.” A third participant said, “Inflation causes a lot of pain in everything we buy and everything we do.”

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While public attention has turned sharply to inflation, few believe the president’s focus has followed. In the poll, 68% said Biden did not pay enough attention to the country’s most important problems, up from 58% who said so last November. That beats the previous record in CNN polls that the president’s attention has been misplaced (59% say Donald Trump missed the most important problems in late summer 2017).

On this question, too, Biden is losing ground among his primary support groups. Among Democrats, 57% said they had the right priorities, down nearly 20 points from 75% last fall. Among people of color, only 35% said they had the right priorities, and among those under 35, only 23% said the boss had the right focus.

The survey found that Biden’s approval ratings for dealing with immigration (39%) and the situation in Ukraine (46%) outperformed him on economic issues, but the majority disagreed on both issues.

The poll also indicates that the personal preference of the president and vice president has been damaged. A year and a half ago, just before their inauguration, 59% were in favor of Biden and 51% were in favor of Kamala Harris. Now, these numbers are 36% and 32%, respectively. Meanwhile, the public’s view of First Lady Jill Biden is mixed: 34% have a favorable opinion, 29% are unfavorable and 37% are not sure how they feel about her.

The new CNN survey was conducted by the SSRS from June 13 to July 13 among a random national sample of 1,459 adults initially accessed by mail, and is the third CNN poll conducted using this methodology. The surveys were conducted either online or over the phone with a live interview. Results for the full sample have a sampling error of more or less than 3.3 percentage points.

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