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Opinion
Jonathan Bernstein

Biden’s Approval Slump Hits a Dreary New Milestone

No president has been less popular at 500 days in office. That’s a bad omen for Democratic midterm election prospects, but not necessarily for 2024.

Tough week.

Tough week.

Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The bad news for President Joe Biden is that his popularity has fallen, this past week, into dead last place. Of the 13 presidents during the polling era, none has been in worse shape at this point in his first term, almost 500 days into a presidency, than Biden’s 40.5% approval rating. That’s according to FiveThirtyEight’s estimate of his average standing in all the public opinion polls. It’s not quite Biden’s own low point — he briefly dipped a bit lower in late February — but it’s close.

Is there any good news for the president? Sort of. His 40.5% is not a historic low for first-term presidents. Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman all had lower lows. Clinton, Reagan and Truman hit bottom before being re-elected, with the latter two dipping well below 40% closer to their elections than Biden is to his. Indeed, there’s no relationship between approval ratings at the 500-day mark and re-election.