Biden’s Big State of the Union Challenge

Biden’s Big State of the Union Challenge


The Covid pandemic has been quieted, the labor market is soaring and predictions of a recession are gradually giving way to optimism about a soft landing for the economy. So the state of our union is … gloomy?

Here's the challenge President Biden faces as he prepares to give what may be his most-watched speech of the year before a divided Congress — and, potentially, to launch his re-election bid before a divided public: Only 42% of Americans approve of the way he is handling his job, compared with 53% who disapprove, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Just 37% approve of the way Biden is handling the economy. And a new Pew Research Center survey finds that only 21% of Americans rate economic conditions as excellent or good.

If Americans aren’t feeling upbeat about the economy, they also don’t see Biden as doing much to improve their lives. A sizable majority of Americans in the Post-ABC News poll say that Biden has not achieved much since taking office. Nearly four in 10 respondents (39%) told pollsters that Biden has done little or nothing on the job, while another 23% said he’s done “not much.” Just 36% say he’s done a “good amount” or a “great deal.”

While the administration might expect 93% of Republicans to say that Biden has not accomplished much, two-thirds of independents agree with the sentiment, which is bound to be more troubling for 2024 campaign prospects.

What about all those big bill Biden signed into law — the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the $1.7 trillion omnibus year-end package from last year? “On many of Biden’s signature initiatives — from improving the country’s infrastructure to making electric vehicles more affordable to creating jobs — majorities of Americans say they do not believe he has made progress,” the Post’s Toluse Olorunnipa, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin say, citing the new poll data.

They add that Biden has said that one of his main goals for this year is to make sure that Americans feel the effects of the legislation enacted during the first two years of his term.

The new poll does offer a bit of good new for Biden: On the issue of raising the debt limit, 82% of Americans say they are somewhat or very concerned that a government default could hurt the economy. And 65% of those polled say that the debt ceiling and federal spending should be handled separately, as the Biden administration has argued. Just 26% say that Congress should allow the federal government to pay its debts only if Biden agrees to cut spending — essentially the position that House Republicans have taken.

The poll of 1,003 adults was conducted from January 27 through February 1 and has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Read more at The Washington Post.