As 2023 draws to a close, President Biden finds himself ending the year with an approval rating that mirrors the negative sentiment he began with at the start of the year. According to the latest Fox News national poll conducted in mid-December, the president holds a 43% approval and 57% disapproval rating. This trend is further reflected in several major polls conducted this month, where Biden registered below 40% approval.
As the transition to 2024 unfolds, the average of the most recent national surveys compiled by Real Clear Politics indicates that Biden’s approval rating stands at 41%, with a disapproval rating of 56%. The approval rating serves as a crucial indicator of a president’s performance, influence, and popularity, gaining heightened attention, especially as an incumbent seeks a second term. At 81 years old, President Biden is poised for re-election in 2024.
During the initial six months of his presidency, Biden maintained an approval rating ranging from the low to mid-50s. However, a decline in his numbers began in August 2021, marked by criticism surrounding his handling of the tumultuous U.S. exit from Afghanistan and a surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly among the unvaccinated.
The erosion in Biden’s approval was further exacerbated by surging inflation, a prevalent economic concern since the summer of 2021, and the influx of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico southern border. In comparison to his three most recent two-term predecessors—former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—Biden’s current approval ratings fall notably lower at this stage in their presidencies when they sought re-election successfully.
Biden’s predecessor, former President Trump, faced similar approval challenges, standing at 45%-53% in a December 2019 Fox News poll and at 45%-52% at the close of 2019, according to the Real Clear Politics average at that time. Trump, a leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is positioned for a potential rematch in the upcoming election.
While Biden initially held an advantage over Trump in 2024 election polls, Trump has since gained momentum in various surveys, indicating a competitive race next November. Biden’s campaign spokesperson, Kevin Munoz, acknowledged the volatility of predictions over a year in advance, citing Gallup’s miscalculation of an eight-point loss for President Obama, who ultimately won decisively a year later.
Veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse echoed the sentiment that polls lack absolute predictive certainty a year in advance. Nevertheless, he emphasized the significance of not disregarding these polls, cautioning that Biden’s campaign does so at their own risk.