President Donald Trump, to a greater extent than either his predecessor or his successor, was divisive. Both support for, and opposition to, his agenda and policies brought a record turnout of 66.7 percent to the 2020 election. (The 2016 election had a turnout of 55.7 percent; the 2012 election, 54.9 percent.)
While supporters and detractors of President Trump will continue to hold opposing views, it is indisputable that Trump did not poll well outside of his core constituency. Polls vary depending on their source, but there is little doubt that Biden, who de-emphasized partisanship and appealed to the political center during his campaign, is doing comparatively better. According to a Gallup poll released last week, fifty-six percent of Americans broadly approve of how Biden is doing in office. forty-two percent disapprove, while two percent are uncertain.
According to Gallup, Biden’s numbers have remained fairly consistent; the same question was posed in January and April, and fifty-seven percent approved then, a decrease of one percent. Even at fifty-six percent, Biden’s approval rating remains seven percentage points higher than Gallup’s high-water mark for President Trump, forty-nine percent.
However, Gallup’s numbers do not tell the full story. A FiveThirtyEight analysis suggests that the president’s support is slipping. Taking into account factors including sample size, date, and previous accuracy, the website concluded that Biden’s approval rating was only 51.6 percent, while 42.6 percent disapproved and roughly 6 percent remained uncertain. Nine points, according to FiveThirtyEight, was the smallest the gap between Biden’s approval and disapproval ratings had ever been.
Other polls have contradicted the Gallup report. On Tuesday, the Des Moines Register published a survey indicating that forty-three percent of Iowans supported Biden, while fifty-two percent opposed him. Iowa has trended towards the Republican Party in recent years, so the lower rating is not surprising; however, the same newspaper published an earlier poll in March, in which forty-seven percent of Iowans approved of Biden.
A Monmouth University poll found that Biden’s approval rating fell six points from April to June, from fifty-four to forty-eight percent. The director of Monmouth’s Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, suggested that the decrease stemmed from Biden’s inability to budge Congress on his massive $4 trillion spending program.
More broadly, a Pew Research poll indicated that, while most Americans supported Biden and his agenda, they were skeptical that the president would be able to forge compromise and prevent partisan rancor in Washington. Pew suggested that forty-eight percent of Americans had confidence in Biden, while fifty-two percent did not.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for The National Interest.