President Joe Biden's approval rating has sunk to a new low as Republicans appear to be in a strong position to retake one or both houses of Congress in next year's midterm elections.
According to a USA Today/Suffolk University Poll taken last Wednesday through Friday, Biden's approval rating has fallen to just 38%, with his disapproval rating climbing to 59%, the worst numbers recorded by this poll for the president since he took office. It's even worse than the 41% approve (55% disapprove) rating the poll recorded in August during Biden's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden took the hardest hit with independent voters, of whom an overwhelming 67% disapproved of his job performance.
More than two-thirds of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, and 45% of respondents said Biden is doing a worse job as president than they expected.
One in five survey respondents said the most important thing for Biden to do over the next year would be to resign, retire, or quit. But even if he did leave office early, it's not clear that Americans would view Vice President Kamala Harris as an improvement. The survey found that Harris has an even lower approval rating than Biden, just 28%, and a 51% majority of respondents said they disapproved of her job performance.
On the issues, a majority of registered voters said they disapprove of Biden's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, immigration, climate change, and foreign policy.
Biden's dismal job performance is seen as hurting Democrats down-ballot in last week's off-year elections. Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state Biden won by 10 points last year, with Republicans winning statewide in the lieutenant governor and attorney general races as well. In New Jersey, a blue-collar Republican truck driver defeated a 20-year incumbent and president of the state Senate who was one of the most powerful Democratic legislators in the state.
Republicans feel they have the wind at their backs looking forward to 2022, and the USA Today/Suffolk University poll supports their optimism. In a generic congressional ballot test, which indicates how voters are feeling about either major party as a whole, Republicans topped Democrats as the party of choice: 46% of voters said they would support a generic Republican candidate for Congress, compared to 38% who would support a Democrat.
"That news should worry the moderate Democratic establishment, who are trying to steer their general elections through traffic and potholes without GPS, and while checking the rearview mirror for progressive Democratic primary challengers eager to overtake," wrote David Paleologos, the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
Paleologos' advice to Biden (and Trump) is that they "can best support their party nominees in the general election without being physically visible." Neither politician is popular with most Americans; majorities said neither Trump nor Biden should run for president in 2024.
If either travels to support candidates down-ballot, Paleologos said it's best to do so in districts where their approval ratings exceed their disapproval.
"Absence makes the voters grow fonder, just ask Youngkin," he wrote.
The poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken by landline and cell phone and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.