Joe Biden's Approval Ratings Fail to Improve as President Faces Gloomy 2022

With just hours left in 2021, President Joe Biden is facing moving into his second year in office with a stubbornly low approval rating, and an array of major national problems that could further dent his popularity.

Biden enjoyed the approval of a majority of Americans during the first few months of his presidency, but his numbers have been under water since August 30, according to analysis by poll tracker FiveThirtyEight.

The president's approval rating has failed to improve in recent weeks and he is also facing a difficult new year with unresolved issues, including Democrats' attempts to pass the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act—a key part of Biden's legislative agenda.

FiveThirtyEight tracks the president's approval rating by analyzing a wide variety of polls and also operates its own system of pollster ratings. It gave Biden an approval rating of 43.4 percent as of December 30.

By contrast, Biden's disapproval stood at 51.6 percent. That has been largely consistent since August 30, the day before the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Disapproval of the president has been on an upward trend since the beginning of September.

Though the president's approval rating appeared to be creeping up in mid-December, reaching a high of 43.9 percent on December 19, it has since fallen back and it may be difficult for Biden to recover heading into January.

Biden will be hoping for successes in 2022 that might improve his standing, including tackling the ongoing pandemic and passing the infrastructure and social spending bill, Build Back Better.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is key to passing that bill in the evenly divided Senate but hopes he could be persuaded to back the legislation before Christmas were dashed.

The U.S. is also facing a surge in the Omicron variant of COVID-19 with the likely prospect of many more infections in January, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suffered harsh criticism for recent advice on self-isolation for asymptomatic cases and masks for children.

Democrats will also have to fight midterm elections in 2022 with Republicans aiming to retake control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, potentially stymying Biden's agenda.

Midterms are often seen as a referendum on the sitting president and it appears that's how the GOP will frame 2022. The president's party generally performs poorly in midterm elections and Biden's personal approval rating doesn't seem to bode well for Democrats, while the economy remains a central issue.

Many Americans continue to have a gloomy outlook about the economy as inflation hit a near 40-year high in November, though there have been positive economic gains under Biden, including unemployment falling to 4.2 percent.

Though Biden is starting 2022 with a low approval rating, the president may take some solace in the fact that he is more popular than former President Donald Trump was at this stage in his presidency.

According to FiveThirtyEight's analysis, Trump had an approval rating of just 37.7 percent on December 30, 2017, while his disapproval stood at 56.2 percent.

Joe Biden Speaks at a Press Briefing
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a briefing about the recent tornadoes in the Midwest in the Oval Office of the White House December 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden's approval rating remains stubbornly low going into the new year. Drew Angerer/Getty Images