“Biden’s disapproval rating among Independents has risen twenty-four points since January 2021.”
President Biden has lost substantial ground with Independent voters since the beginning of the year, and is on track to close out the year with a twenty-four point rise in his disapproval rating. Considering Independents also broke from the Democratic candidate in the recent Virginia governor’s race, Democrats may need to rethink their strategy going into the midterms.
Biden began his presidency with a 44% approval rating among Independents and a 33% disapproval rating, with almost a quarter of Independents (23%) saying they weren’t sure what they thought yet. However, the latest YouGov survey shows a significant share of those undecided Independents have made up their minds about Biden, and now disapprove of the job he is doing as president.
“Undecided Independents have made up their minds about Biden, and broadly disapprove of the job he is doing as president.”
Biden’s job approval rating with Independents has fallen seven points since January, from 44% to 37%. Over the same period, Biden’s disapproval rating has risen twenty-four points, from 33% in January to 57% in late November. Only 5% of Independents are unsure about Biden now, down from 23% at the start of the year. A larger percentage of Independents strongly disapprove of Biden now (42%), than disapproved of him at all in January (33%).
A full 70% of Independents also say the country is off on the wrong track, while just 17% say the country is headed in the right direction, and 13% aren’t sure.
When analyzing the polling data, it is clear Independents have specific concerns on immigration, foreign policy, the economy, and inflation.
Independents give Biden particularly low marks on his handling of immigration, with 60% disapproving of how he has handled immigration, to just 23% who approve.
“Sixty percent of Independents disapprove of how Biden is handling immigration, and just 23% approve.”
Independents also give Biden low marks on his handling of jobs and the economy, with 56% disapproving of his handling of jobs and the economy to 32% who approve. Independents disapprove of Biden’s foreign policy by nearly a two to one margin (59% to 30%).
Independents disapprove of Biden’s handling of covid-19 53% to 34%, with 12% stating they are unsure. On covid-19, Independents say 53% to 47% they are not worried at all or not too worried about contracting the virus.
Independents say 46% to 11% that inflation is more important than unemployment right now, but 37% say they are equally important. The views of Independents on inflation are very close to the views of Republicans, with 48% of Republicans saying inflation is more important than unemployment, 7% saying unemployment is more important, and 42% saying they are equally important. Among Democrats, 39% say inflation is more of an issue than unemployment, 12% say unemployment is a larger issue, and 42% say they are equally important.
Biden’s falling numbers with Independents do not exist in a vacuum. In the Virginia Gubernatorial race this year, GOP newcomer Glenn Youngkin won Independent voters 54% to 45%.
This was a large shift away from the Democratic Party compared to 2020. Youngkin beat former President Trump’s numbers with Independents in Virginia by 16 points, and he beat 2017 GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s numbers by 4 points.
With Independents broadly disapproving of Biden’s handling of immigration, foreign policy, and jobs and the economy, Democrats will need to decide whether to embrace the Biden agenda or shift message in the midterms.