WASHINGTON — An overwhelming and growing majority of Americans say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, including nearly 8 in 10 Democrats, according to a new poll that finds deep pessimism about the economy plaguing President Joe Biden.
Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults say the country is on the wrong track, and 79 percent describe the economy as poor, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The findings suggest Biden faces fundamental challenges as he tries to motivate voters to cast ballots for Democrats in November’s midterm elections.
Inflation has consistently eclipsed the healthy 3.6 percent unemployment rate as a focal point for Americans, who are dealing with high gasoline and food prices. Even among Democrats, 67 percent call economic conditions poor.
“He’s doing the best he can — I can’t say he’s doing a good job,” said Chuck McClain, 74. “But his opposition is so bad. I just don’t feel the Democratic Congress is doing enough.”
The Las Vegas resident is a loyal Democrat, but he said the price of gas and groceries, Russia’s war in Ukraine and the country’s deep political divides have led more Americans to feel as though Washington is unresponsive to their needs.
“My wife and I are very frustrated with where the country is headed, and we don’t have a lot of hope for the political end of it to get any better,” he said.
The poll shows only 39 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s leadership overall, while 60 percent disapprove. His approval rating fell to its lowest point of his presidency last month and remains at that level. The Democratic president gets hit even harder on the economy, with 69 percent saying they disapprove of him on the issue. Among Democrats, 43 percent disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy.
Just 14 percent say things are going in the right direction, down slightly from 21 percent in May and 29 percent in April. Through the first half of 2021, about half of Americans said the country was headed in the right direction, a number that has steadily eroded in the past year.
Dorothy Vaudo, 66, said she voted for Biden in 2020 but plans to switch allegiance this year.
“I’m a Democrat so I had to vote Democrat, but that’s going to change,” said the Martin County, N.C., resident.
In recent weeks, Americans have endured even more bad economic news, with inflation continuing to rise, interest rates increasing dramatically and the S&P 500 entering a bear market as many serious economists predict a recession. Yet consumer spending has largely kept pace and hiring remains brisk in a sign that families and businesses have been able to withstand some of the economic pain.
In an interview this month with the AP, Biden traced the decline in his popularity to increases in gas prices that began a year ago. He said that prices shot up further with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. But he rejected claims by Republican lawmakers and some major economists that his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package from last year contributed to inflation, noting that price increases were a global phenomenon.