Biden’s polling problem: Running for re-election in 2024, the president ends 2023 underwater

When it comes to his approval rating, President Biden ends 2023 where he started the year – firmly in negative territory.

The president stood at 43% approval and 57% disapproval in the latest Fox News national poll, which was conducted in mid-December, and he registered below 40% approval in a handful of major polls in the field this month.

Biden’s approval rating stands at 41%-56% as the calendar turns from 2023 to 2024, according to an average of all the most recent national surveys compiled by Real Clear Politics.

The approval rating is a key indicator of a president’s performance, clout and popularity and is a closely watched metric, especially when an incumbent in the White House seeks a second term. The 81-year-old Biden is running for re-election in 2024.

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Biden’s approval rating hovered in the low to mid 50s during his first six months in the White House. However, the president’s numbers started sagging in August 2021 in the wake of Biden’s much-criticized handling of the turbulent U.S. exit from Afghanistan and following a surge in COVID-19 cases that summer, mainly among unvaccinated people.

The plunge in the president’s approval was also fueled by soaring inflation – which started spiking in the summer of 2021 and remains to date a major pocketbook concern with Americans – and the surge of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. along the southern border with Mexico. 

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Biden stands well below where his three most recent two-term predecessors – former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – stood at this point in their presidencies, as they successfully ran for re-election. 

The only recent president whose approval ratings were nearly as negative as Biden’s current numbers was his most recent predecessor, former President Trump, who was defeated by Biden in the 2020 election.

Trump stood at 45%-53% in a Fox News poll conducted in December 2019, and at 45%-52% on the last day of 2019, according to the Real Clear Politics average at the time.

Trump remains the commanding frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and as the new year approaches, a 2020 election rematch appears likely next November.

Biden once held the upper hand over Trump in 2024 presidential election surveys, but Trump began enjoying an advantage over his successor in the White House in many polls starting in October.

“Predictions more than a year out tend to look a little different a year later,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said early last month. “Don’t take our word for it: Gallup predicted an eight-point loss for President Obama only for him to win handily a year later.”

Veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse concurred that polls “aren’t necessarily predictive a year out.”

But Newhouse emphasized “that doesn’t mean you ignore these polls and they [Biden’s campaign] do so at their own risk.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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