With President Joe Biden continuing to delay an announcement of whether he is indeed running for a second term in office, new polling from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that his approval rating has dipped to nearly the lowest point in his entire presidency.
The results come amid recent high-profile bank collapses, persistent inflation, and waves of corporate layoffs that have many Americans fearing for their futures.
According to the new survey, Biden's overall approval rating now stands at an anemic 38%, a notable drop from the 45% approval rating he garnered in February and a more modest decline from where he stood in January when the percentage of respondents approving of the president's job performance stood at 41.
Biden's current standing among poll participants comes dangerously close to the 38% approval number he notched in July of last year when high gas prices and surging inflationary pressure helped drive him to the lowest level of support recorded since he took office.
In a potentially ominous sign for Biden's assumed reelection hopes, only 31% of poll respondents indicated approval of the president's handling of the economy, which is certain to be a pivotal campaign issue in 2024.
Also likely discouraging for the Biden camp is the fact that, according to the poll, younger Democrats are far less likely to support the president on the economy than those over the age of 45, with that divergence translating to overall approval levels as well.
As if those numbers weren't worrying enough for Biden, the survey also found that only about 25% of Americans would characterize the economy as “good” or agree with the notion that the country is headed in the proper direction.
The results of the latest AP-NORC poll have certainly given the president cause for concern, but perhaps not nearly as much as some of the reactions recently elicited by The Nation, which queried a group of prominent progressives on their thoughts about a possible second Biden term.
Asked simply whether Biden should run in 2024, Bill Fletcher, described as “a longtime trade unionist” and past president of TransAfrica Forum, answered in the negative, saying, “I am not trying to be ageist, but the time has come for a new generation to assume leadership,” adding, “I am glad that Biden defeated Trump, now we need more.”
Michael Lighty, president of Healthy California Now, agreed with Fletcher on a Biden bid, saying, “President Biden has been in power during the 40-plus years of government failure to stem rampant inequality, the destruction of working-class urban and rural communities, and the expansion of corporate power,” adding, “[w]e need a competitive Democratic primary without an incumbent to choose someone who can make a clean break from the politics that got us here.”
Echoing the concerns many have about Biden's age and questionable stamina for the job, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted, I've had the privilege of working with four presidents, and I can tell you from experience and observation that the job of the American presidency is physically and mentally grueling even for people in their 40s. If re-elected, Biden would be 86 at the end of his second term (assuming he made it to the end). That's deeply worrying.”
Former Wisconsin Lieutenant Gov. Barbara Lawton pulled no punches about Biden's potential infirmities, either now or in the future, saying, “My stomach clenches at the prospect of a venerable president becoming incapable of strong leadership for all the dangers of aging past 80, at the inevitable wince-worthy moments that may accrue to the point of putting our nation at risk.”
As Reuters recently reported, even residents of Biden's childhood hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania are harboring doubts about his fitness or general suitability for a second term, with 57-year-old Jean Saunders stating flatly, “I worry about his age and his health.”
Scranton local Kimberly Smith, 45, mused about a 2024 campaign, “I think it's kind of what he's supposed to do, run again, right? That's really what he's supposed to do. Is there a president that didn't go for a second run at all?” Despite the general inertia that seems to propel Oval Office occupants into a second White House run, speculation continues to percolate that Biden may ultimately heed Smith's subsequent observation that “[w]e just need someone fresh.”