This article titled “‘Leaders lead during crises’ – but Biden’s approval rating hits new low, poll finds” was written by Martin Pengelly in New York, for theguardian.com on Sunday 27th February 2022 15.37 UTC
Two days ahead of his first State of the Union address, with war raging in Ukraine and inflation rising at home, Joe Biden’s approval rating hit a new low in a major US poll.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told ABC’s This Week Biden would acknowledge challenges but also project optimism when he speaks to Congress and the nation at the Capitol on Tuesday night.
“If you look back when President [Barack] Obama gave his first State of the Union, it was during the worst financial crisis in a generation,” Psaki said. “When President [George W] Bush gave his first State of the Union, it was shortly after 9/11.
“Leaders lead during crises. That’s exactly what President Biden is doing. He’ll speak to that, but he’s also going to speak about his optimism about what’s ahead and what we all have to look forward to.”
The Post-ABC poll found that 55% of respondents disapproved of Biden’s performance, with 44% strongly disapproving. Partisan divides were evident, with 86% of Republicans and 61% of independents disapproving while 77% of Democrats approved of Biden’s performance in 13 months in office.
The poll followed others which have sounded warnings for Biden, including a Harvard survey which found a majority of Americans saying Russia would not have invaded Ukraine if Trump was still in the White House.
Fox News, meanwhile, found that more Democrats had a negative view of Trump and more Republicans disapproved of Biden than either did of Vladimir Putin.
Biden faces strong political headwinds as midterm elections loom. The party in the White House usually suffers in its first midterm contest.
According to the Post-ABC poll, 50% of Americans want Republicans – the party whose supporters attacked Congress on 6 January 2021 – to take control on Capitol Hill.
Most analysts expect that at least the House will fall to the GOP, though intra-party divisions, particularly over Trump and his political ambitions, could yet damage Republicans in November.
Biden has implemented wide-ranging sanctions against Russia and Putin himself, helped marshal world opinion against Russia and sent US troops to allies in Europe.
Nonetheless, the Post-ABC poll found that 47% of respondents disapproved of the president’s handling of the Ukraine crisis.
Russia invaded as the poll was being conducted this week.
The knock-on effects of the Ukraine war on the US economy are widely feared. In the Post-ABC poll, Biden’s approval rating on economic matters stood at the same low level as his overall approval rating, 37%. Three-quarters of respondents rated the US economy negatively.
The Post and ABC also said Biden’s approval on handling the coronavirus pandemic continues to slide, with 44% approving and 50% disapproving.
The poll also asked about two Republican attack lines: that Biden is not tough enough to stand up to Putin and that at 79 he is not mentally sharp enough to meet the demands of the job.
“On the question of whether he is a strong leader,” the Post reported, “59% say no and 36% say yes – closely aligned with his overall approval rating. Among independents, 65% say he is not strong.
“On an even more personal question, 54% say they do not think Biden has the mental sharpness it takes to serve as president, while 40% say he does.”
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