Since around the start of August, President Biden's approval began to tank. According to 538, Biden's approval is currently at 43.8%. They recently wrote an article about how his approval is dropping among almost every single demographic, including Democrats.

This looks like it is personal to Biden because it doesn't seem to particularly carry over strongly to other polling like the generic ballot or Virginia's governor race, and seems to be happening across party lines but most pronounced among independents. I am just curious about the issues that seem to be causing it to fall. Why is Biden's approval dropping since August?

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    The 538 article you linked seems to articulate well which issues could be contributing(Covid-19, economy). Would it be fair to say your question is why is his approval rating dropping while those in his party are still being elected? Like a "Why do federal offices feel the hurt more than state/local?"
    – discodane
    Oct 22, 2021 at 19:40
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    what did other presidents' approval ratings look like following their first year in office?
    – Esther
    Oct 24, 2021 at 4:21
  • @Esther There's a graph on FiveThirtyEight.com comparing the first nine months for recent presidents. That said, the 'why' is probably going to be a matter of opinion. fivethirtyeight.com/features/… Oct 24, 2021 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


Honeymoon's Over

There honestly doesn't really need to be a reason beyond "he's been President for 9 months."

538 shows that this is typical

Presidents get elected and a wave of optimism rushes over the country, which fades in time. No real explanation needed for Biden, as he is following the trend very closely. You'll easily see that it's Presidents like George W. Bush that buck this trend that are the ones that require an explanation (in his case, 9/11).

  • Anything in particular happen during May - June in Clinton's first term? Oct 25, 2021 at 22:42
  • @AzorAhai-him- Possibly fallout from the Waco siege, which was late April 1993.
    – Michael W.
    Oct 25, 2021 at 23:08
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    @NumberFile There doesn't really need to be any sort of explanation. This is the normal, expected outcome. Why did Trump drop? Why did Obama drop? Why did Clinton drop? Because it's normal, and nothing prevented the normal course of action from occurring.
    – Michael W.
    Oct 26, 2021 at 16:02
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    -1 There are many other reasons expounded upon at length in the very same source. You chose the least controversial reason to present, and then advertised it as the only one “needed”. Oct 26, 2021 at 17:01
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    The slope on that Biden line from August 1 to October 1 is very steep compared to all of the other post-honeymoon declines, which also just happened to be the period where Biden pulled America out of Afghanistan. I don't think the correct conclusion from the graph is "there's nothing to see here and this is all normal."
    – Joe
    Oct 27, 2021 at 14:58

Michael's answer is basically correct and so is agc's, but if you want it down to specific policies/issues, Biden's approval rating has sank on Afghanistan, immigration, Covid-19, infrastructure bill. E.g. on Afghanistan:

Forty-three percent say they approve of his handling of foreign policy overall, and only 34% approve of his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. Even among Democrats, only 54% say they approve of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan. Just 10% of Republicans say the same.

On the rest:

Compared to an August ABC News/Ipsos poll, public approval of how Biden is handling key issues -- the pandemic, immigration and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun violence and even rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, the issue he's pushing this week -- is on the decline. Dissatisfaction among Republicans and independents is fueling the decline, but the president's ratings are also hampered by more lackluster approval among members of his own party than presidents typically enjoy.

Worth noting on that angle that Afghanistan is also related to immigration in some ways.

On none of these was he able to claim an unmitigated success. To pick one example, the vaccine mandates have proven unpopular with the unvaccinated, even among traditional Dem. strongholds like Black voters; the handling of Afghanistan has apparently had less impact on this demographic than the vaccine mandate:

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Additionally, the rising inflation and transportation-related shortages have dinged his approval rating on the economy.

47% of Americans approve of how Biden is handling the economy, down from a high of 60% in March but similar to where it stood in August.

  • Good list, but it should also credit 2021's notably energetic propaganda environment, wherein formerly weak fringe issues were turned up to 11.
    – agc
    Oct 28, 2021 at 3:07
  • The fact that some prominent (but not necessarily popular too) democrats have quit the party and publicly criticised Biden and his administration is, I am sure, also a factor in the negative change of public perception towards the President.
    – sfxedit
    Dec 29, 2022 at 19:55

Abstract answer...

Two-party polarization, whose adherents generally believe only they are addressing real problems, as opposed to the opposing party's mutually exclusive imaginary problems.

Biden is a moderate, and hopes to find some kind of bipartisan happy medium between both parties. As such, the adherents of each party find that at best Biden gives them no more than half of what they believe necessary, and wastes half or more of his executive attention and resources on the opposition's imaginary problems.

Caveat: since some of the party conflict problems are mutually exclusive, (i.e. of the form "A either does or does not exist"), it follows that for each those problems one of the parties must be mistaken. It would be a serious error to infer some sort of false equivalency between the conflicting parties: their respective feelings towards each other may seem virtually equivalent, but the merits of their respective solutions to mutually exclusive problem definitions absolutely cannot be equivalent.

The present absurd levels of polarization didn't just magically pop out of nowhere, and polarization's intrinsic inconsistencies aren't shelf-stable without considerable continuous effort in maintaining disunification. 2021's polarization is the result of decades of hard work by many people: some of whom are sincere radicals, but the necessary people here have unpopular goals that can only be promoted by disunifying proxy issues with carefully tailored side-effects congruent to those unpopular goals.

  • I agree. But I think it's a bit more complicated. First I think this is what hurts him with Democrats, but with Independents and most of the 15% or so of Republicans who approved of him at first I think it is that they feel his unity message is failing. Oct 26, 2021 at 15:51

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