President Biden Job Approval Bounces, Defying First-Year Obama Swoon

President Joe Biden’s job approval rating bounced back over the past month, reaching a level that President Obama never regained outside the first few months of his presidency, the August IBD/TIPP Poll finds. Biden’s approval rating climbed as the government distributed new monthly child tax credits, a bipartisan infrastructure deal advanced, and the delta variant sparked an upsurge in Covid cases and hospitalizations.


IBD/TIPP’s Biden job approval level of 60.6 — the share of adults who approve as a percentage of those who offer a firm opinion — rose from 57.7 in early July. Biden’s job approval rating started at 64.6 in February, following his inauguration.

The August IBD/TIPP Poll finds that 52% of adults approve of how President Biden is handling his job, up from 50% in July. Now 34% disapprove of Biden’s job performance, down from 37% a month ago.

Biden’s job approval rating among registered voters rose to 57% from 54%, as disapproval slipped to 34% from 38%. Registered independents now approve of Biden’s job performance 50%-37%, after disapproving by 43%-41% in July.

Approval Of President Biden Policies

Biden continued to enjoy broad approval for his handling of the pandemic: 53% support his approach, while 28% disapprove.

Meanwhile, Biden’s rating on the economy, after hitting some turbulence in the prior month, regained altitude in August. Now Biden has net 18% approval for his economic stewardship, up from 12% in July, though still down from 23% in June.

Now, 48% of American adults see his handling of the economy as excellent or good, while 30% see it as poor or unacceptable. In July, 44% gave him a good grade, while 32% gave him poor marks, narrowing from June’s 50%-27% split.

Last week, the Senate voted to begin debate on a $1-trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, with a vote on the actual legislation possible this week. On July 15, Treasury sent out about $15 billion in child tax credits to 35 million families, with checks of up to $300 per child under age 6 and $250 per child 6-17. The March stimulus package raised the $2,000 child tax credit by $1,000-$1,600 per year, while providing for monthly payments, instead of making parents wait until tax season. Previously, households without income-tax liability only received $1,400 per child.

Financial Stress Rises

Still, the IBD/TIPP Financial Related Stress Index rose to 63.2 in August from 61.9 in July. That’s the highest level since January. Readings above 50 indicate rising stress. The financial stress index fell to a Covid-era low of 56.8 in early April, after most Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks.

Rising stress may reflect the move by numerous states to suspend emergency jobless benefits, including an extra $300 in weekly support. Governors in about 25 GOP-led states took this step to coax the unemployed back off the sidelines as businesses have trouble finding enough workers. Pandemic jobless benefits will expire nationwide by Labor Day.

The surge in inflation also has likely contributed to rising financial stress. The consumer price index jumped 5.4% from a year ago in June, the biggest annual gain since 2008. Senior citizens living on a fixed income tend to be most sensitive to price increases. Seniors disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy 48%-38%, after approving 44%-37% as recently as June.

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How Biden Job Approval Rating Stacks Up

Biden’s 60.6 job approval, though down from its peak, still looks lofty compared to recent history.

President Trump’s highest job approval, 50.1, came in April 2020, in the early weeks of the coronavirus lockdown after Congress had passed a massive rescue package. But he exited office with a 43.5 approval rating in the January IBD/TIPP Poll.

President Obama’s IBD/TIPP job approval never cracked 60 after June 2009, the month he launched his push for universal health coverage and cost controls. Obama’s job approval rating, which started at 75.3, was at 58.1 at this point in his presidency, but took another step down to 54.9 in October 2009 as he ramped up his health care push.

Investors Back Biden By Wide Margin

Among non-investors who are registered to vote, 50% approve of Biden’s job performance, while 39% disapprove. That’s little changed from July’s 50%-40% split and much narrower than June’s 57%-35% approval.

Among registered voters, investors approve of Biden’s job performance, 69%-26%, vs. 62%-33%% in July. IBD/TIPP counts as investors those respondents who say they have at least $10,000 in household-owned mutual funds or equities.

The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all closed within 1% of record highs on Friday. Since Biden’s election, the Dow is up 27%, the S&P 500 30% and the Nasdaq 31%.

President Biden has called for major increases in tax rates on capital gains, dividends and corporate income. However, investors have yet to pay much attention to those proposals. That’s partly because the bipartisan infrastructure plan wouldn’t raise tax rates. Wall Street analysts also have cast doubt on the extent of tax hikes Biden will be able to pass. But there may be some surprises in store.

Also, with affluent, college-educated Americans increasingly Democratic, investor support for Biden may not have much to do with Wall Street.

Make sure to read IBD’s daily afternoon The Big Picture column to get the latest read on the prevailing market trend and whether investors have a green light to buy quality stocks flashing a buy point.

The August IBD/TIPP Poll reflects online surveys of 1,322 adults, including 1,026 registered voters, from July 28-30. The results come with a credibility interval of +/- 2.8 points.

Please follow Jed Graham on Twitter @IBD_JGraham for coverage of economic policy and financial markets.


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