Presidential Approval Is the Highest It’s Been Since 2009, Poll Shows

President Biden waves as he arrives at the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 29, 2021.

A new poll finds that Biden’s approval rating is 61 percent, the highest rating a president has received since 2009.
President Biden waves as he arrives at the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 29, 2021.

A new poll of 1,055 adults by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has found that President Joe Biden is enjoying his “honeymoon period” with the public with a 61 percent approval rating. This means that Biden’s approval rating is the highest it’s been for any president since 2009, when Barack Obama was in his first year in office, notes The Hill’s Reid Wilson.

According to the AP-NORC poll, released on Thursday, Biden’s approval among Democrats is very high at 97 percent and more moderate, but still positive among independents at 58 percent. However, his approval among Republicans is only 23 percent. The gap between the opinions of the two parties is, as The New York Times writes on another poll with similar results, indicative of an ongoing partisan rift.

The results of the AP-NORC poll, however, are unusual because according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll aggregation, Biden’s approval rating is more likely to be around 53 percent, where it has hovered since he took office.

Though 53 percent is lower than the initial approval rating Obama enjoyed when he first took office — around 60 percent on average — it is still higher than former President Donald Trump’s ever was. Trump’s average approval for his four years in office was a record low 41 percent, according to Gallup, and he never quite achieved a majority approval rating of above 50 percent.

Polls have also shown a generally positive view of Biden’s individual actions so far, like rejoining the Paris agreement and the World Health Organization. Those polled in the AP-NORC poll also have relative confidence in his ability to handle the coronavirus pandemic.

Recent polls have also shown major bipartisan support for the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package that Democrats are currently working on in Congress. The stimulus package includes such provisions as a $15 minimum wage, $1,400 relief checks and funding for vaccine distribution programs.

Democrats this week have been setting up the bill to pass, as both the House and the Senate have now voted to pass a budget resolution that will allow the stimulus to pass in both chambers of Congress. Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain noted that, though Republicans have largely objected to the size and content of Biden’s stimulus package, the polls show that the legislation is bipartisan.

Congress has also gained a small bump in its approval among the public since December, according to Gallup polling, likely because of the last COVID stimulus that was passed at the end of the year.

Democrats in general are experiencing small bumps in approval as Gallup also finds that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is more popular than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Another poll in Georgia from last week found that the state’s newly elected Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — and Biden were experiencing higher approval ratings than Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump.

Democrats may end up riding that positive approval wave as they push to pass another popular COVID relief bill that Republicans like McConnell have tried to obstruct. Lately, McConnell has scuffled with Democrats over their use of budget reconciliation to pass the stimulus through a simple majority, bypassing the filibuster.

But polls have also found that the public wants a stimulus no matter what, even if it means using reconciliation. And, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) pointed out on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Republicans have used reconciliation before to pass Trump’s tax cuts in 2017. “It’s one thing for my Republican friends here to be talking about the need for bipartisanship, which all of us support,” he said in his first speech as chair of the budget committee. “But the reality is they used exactly the same process to pass — or at least try to pass — major, major pieces of legislation.”


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