NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll: Biden Approval Heading into the State of the Union, Feb 2022

Americans Perceive Biden’s First Year in Office to Be a Failure... Want Biden's Administration to Focus on Inflation Amid Persistent Financial Concerns

President Joe Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday to a nation whose focus has shifted away from the COVID-19 pandemic and who is sending a message that they want Biden to focus on other issues, especially inflation. Americans’ concerns about their own personal finances and the overall direction of the country provide a stark backdrop for Biden who will face the nation with dismal reviews of his first year in office and his lowest job approval rating.

Top Priority for Biden Administration
From this list, which one of the following should be Joe Biden's top priority as president right now:
Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted February 15th through February 21st, 2022. N=1,264 MOE: +/- 3.5%. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
  • A plurality of Americans (38%) thinks President Biden’s top priority should be inflation. The coronavirus pandemic (11%), voting laws (11%), foreign policy (10%), and violent crime (10%) follow. Other issues receive single digits. Of note, more than seven in ten Americans (72%) are optimistic that the nation is nearing an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Majorities of Americans think Biden’s first year in office has been a failure (56%), he is not fulfilling campaign promises (54%), and he is doing more to divide the nation (52%) than to unite it. Americans are more than four times as likely to consider Biden’s first year to be a major failure (36%) than a major success (8%).

  • Economic concerns hit close to home for Americans. 29% say their family finances have gotten worse in the last year. 23% say they have gotten better, and 48% say things are status quo.

  • Americans are generally not optimistic about the future of their personal finances, although 36% expect their financial situation to get better in the coming year, up from 30% in July 2021. 22% think their financial situation will worsen, comparable to 24% last time, and 41% think they will stay about the same, down from 46%.

  • 51% of Americans think people in their community are economically worse off than they were a year ago. 30% say they are better off, and 7% don’t think there has been much change. 12% are unsure.

With inflation and personal family finances top of mind, perceptions of President Biden’s first year in office are bleak. Majorities of Americans consider his time in office to be a failure, think Biden has missed the mark in fulfilling campaign promises, and believe he is a divisive force in the nation.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher for President Biden’s State of the Union Address. Biden needs to revise the narrative about his job performance, especially on the economy, and the direction of the nation,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “That’s a tall task while Ukraine looms large in the background."

Americans Remain Pessimistic About Nation’s Direction

30% of residents nationally, down from 34% in December, think the nation is moving in the right direction, while 67%, up from 61% in December, think it is moving in the wrong one.

Rating Biden’s Job Performance

President Biden’s job approval rating (39%), notched down from 41% in December, is the lowest of his presidency. Biden’s negative score (55%) matches his worst which he received in that same December poll. Americans are nearly three times as likely to strongly disapprove (41%) of Biden’s job performance than strongly approve (14%).

Biden’s approval rating on his handling of the economy (36%) is his lowest since taking office. Biden’s economic score has been on a steady decline since April 2021 when he achieved his highest rating on the issue (54%). 58% of Americans disapprove of his economic approach, marking his highest disapproval rating on this issue.

Biden also receives his lowest rating on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Americans now divide with slightly more saying they disapprove (49%) of how Biden is doing than approve (47%). Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been trending downward since May 2021 when 66% of Americans approved of Biden’s approach.

While both men and women are more likely to disapprove than approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, a 32-point gender gap is present. A 24-point gender gap exists on the question of how he is handling the pandemic. Here, though, a majority of women (53%) approve while 56% of men disapprove.

50% of residents disapprove of how President Biden is handling the situation in Ukraine. 34% approve, and a notable 16% are unsure. 82% of Republicans, 52% of independents, and even 18% of Democrats disapprove of how Biden is addressing this foreign policy issue.

More than Six in Ten Support Biden’s Vision for the Next Supreme Court Justice

61% of Americans either strongly support or support Biden’s decision to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. 32% either oppose or strongly oppose his approach to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

Americans Call for Compromise in D.C.

64% of Americans think it is more important for officials in Washington, D.C. to compromise to find solutions rather than stand on principles (29%). When last asked in December 2020, similar proportions (66% compromise to 25% stand on principle) held these views.

Majorities of Democrats (75%), independents (67%), and Republicans (52%) say D.C. officials need to work together to fix the nation’s problems.