Biden’s Approval Ratings Among Worst for a President’s 2nd Year

Most Americans disapprove of the job President Biden is doing, with his approval rating hovering around 42 percent for months after recovering from a dip into the mid-30s over the summer.

The first years of a president’s term generally represent the high-water mark for their ratings. Overall, Mr. Biden had among the lowest average second-year approval ratings of any modern president, with his numbers dropping nearly eight percentage points since his first year in office. Only President Donald J. Trump’s second-year average was worse.

One persistent drag on Mr. Biden’s ratings has been the economy, with his worst numbers coming amid high inflation and gas prices. His numbers improved slightly after gas eased from a nationwide average of around $5 a gallon over the summer. But his ratings have not increased substantially as gas prices have continued to fall to 2021 levels.

In recent weeks, polling averages have shown a small but noticeable drop in Mr. Biden’s approval ratings amid investigations into his handling of classified documents, though surveys by major polling organizations have shown little change. An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken after additional classified documents were found in the Bidens’ Delaware home showed that 42 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Biden’s job performance, largely unchanged since a November poll by the same organization.

The potential effect on public opinion might have been blunted by the fact that former Mr. Trump had been previously found to be in possession of classified documents. The vast majority of U.S. adults think former officials having classified documents in their homes happens a lot or sometimes, according to a recent CBS News poll; just 14 percent said they thought it happened rarely or never.

Americans also see the current and former presidents’ handling of these documents very differently: 27 percent said Mr. Biden intentionally did something illegal, compared with 48 percent who said it was accidental; views of Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents are reversed.

The economy has consistently edged out everything else as the most important issue, with 35 percent of Americans — including nearly half of Republicans — pointing to inflation as the most urgent issue facing the country in a recent poll from Quinnipiac University. Just 37 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Biden’s handling of the economy, largely unchanged over the past year.