Fox News Poll: Biden’s ratings down, as voters say he’s focused on wrong things

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There’s no way to spin the latest Fox News poll numbers — they are that bad for President Joe Biden.  Here are the main takeaways on the economy and the Biden administration from the survey released Thursday.  

— Higher grocery and gas prices are causing widespread pain, and views on the economy are ugly as a result.

— Only one-quarter of voters think Biden’s $1 trillion-plus social spending plan will help their family, while a majority believes they — not wealthy Americans — will pay for it.

— Many think Biden’s age is interfering with his job (he turns 79 on Saturday).  That includes half of seniors and more than one-quarter of Democrats.

— Amid concern over China’s power, a majority says Biden isn’t tough enough on America’s Asian rival.

— Over half disapprove of the job Vice President Kamala Harris is doing and don’t think she is qualified to be president.

— Biden’s job ratings are down — both overall and on the issues — and voters think his administration is prioritizing the wrong issues.   

Here are the numbers behind those findings:

Biden currently receives his lowest marks on a Fox News survey: approval stands at 44 percent, while 54 percent disapprove. It was 46-53 percent last month. His best, 56-43 percent, came in June. 

Compared to six months ago, approval of Biden is down 16 points on coronavirus, 15 points on the economy, and 7 points on immigration. Currently, 36 percent approve on the economy and 31 percent approve on immigration.  On Biden’s best issue, the pandemic, 48 percent approve. 

Some of the decline comes from his own side, as Biden receives his lowest approval from Democrats to date for his overall performance (82 percent), as well as on the economy (67 percent), immigration (57 percent), and coronavirus (84 percent). 

Voters are harsher on foreign policy.  Majorities disapprove of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan (27-63 percent) and China (28-55 percent).  Overall, 7 in 10 are extremely or very concerned about both China’s military and economic power and 6 in 10 think Biden hasn’t been tough enough on the country. 

Meanwhile, 46 percent think Biden’s issue positions are too liberal and 53 percent believe his age is affecting his work.

Nearly half (49 percent) think the government should be doing more to solve the country’s problems, the highest since the question was first asked in 2010.  One-third (34 percent) say the government is doing too many things better left to individuals and businesses, down from 50 percent a decade ago.

Yet the increased desire for government involvement is not helping Biden, as 54 percent think his administration is focused on the wrong things.

Democratic pollster Chris Anderson sums up Biden’s situation this way: “Voters are feeling real pain at the pump and the store. The good news for Biden is they want the government to do something about it. The bad news is they think he isn’t.”  Anderson conducts the Fox News survey with Republican Daron Shaw. 

Voters are focused on the economy, including higher prices and supply chain concerns. 

Three-quarters say supply chain issues have affected them personally through sticker shock, empty shelves, or delayed deliveries. 

Higher prices at the grocery store are causing financial hardship for 73 percent.  For 33 percent, they are a “serious” hardship, up from 28 percent in August.

Gas prices pose a hardship for 72 percent, and voters think the best course for Biden is to bring down prices by relaxing regulations on domestic drilling (34 percent) or opening strategic oil reserves (34 percent).  One-quarter would do nothing and instead leave prices high to discourage driving (10 percent) or let the market decide (15 percent).  On Wednesday, the survey’s final day of interviewing, the Biden administration opened some 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to new drilling.

Some 12 percent are happy about high gas prices because it will spur use of alternative energy.  A larger 33 percent think the higher cost makes Biden happy for the same reason. 

Only 23 percent rate the economy positively (4 percent excellent and 19 percent good).  That’s down from 33 percent at the end of former President Trump’s term (December 2020) — and the lowest since May 2020. 

Most voters, 76 percent, say the economy is in fair (33 percent) or poor shape (43 percent). 

That’s about how folks felt soon after the pandemic started:  26 percent positive vs. 73 percent negative (April 2020).

That sheds light on why the economy remains the most important issue facing the country (26 percent).  Next, it’s coronavirus (17 percent), inflation/supply chain (10 percent), border security/immigration (8 percent), political division (7 percent), and Biden/poor leadership and climate change (6 percent each). 

The economy tops the list for Republicans, followed by inflation and border security.  Among Democrats, coronavirus is first, followed by the economy and climate change.

On economic issues, far more prioritize inflation (45 percent) than government spending (15 percent), jobs (15 percent), income inequality (13 percent), or taxes (4 percent).  Inflation brings the parties together, as the largest share of Republicans (49 percent), independents (46 percent), and Democrats (41 percent) agree it is the biggest economic problem. 

The White House, meanwhile, is focused on passing Biden’s social spending plan for programs ranging from childcare to climate change.  Views split on the plan: 44 percent favor vs. 46 percent oppose. 

That makes sense given voters’ doubts about how it will affect them.  About equal numbers think the plan will help (27 percent) their family as think it will hurt (31 percent).  Slightly more think it will hurt (40 percent) rather than help (34 percent) the economy.

“There is considerable skepticism about the president’s plan,” says Shaw. “White House advisors who think that passing it will boost Biden’s approval may be underrating the extent to which attitudes on it are already highly polarized.”

The president insists his plan won’t raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year. Only 32 percent believe that. A 59 percent majority says “people like me” will pay, including 32 percent of Democrats. 

Views are also split on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden signed into law Monday. While 35 percent think the package will help the economy, 34 percent say it will hurt. Another 20 percent say it won’t make a difference.

The national registered voter survey was conducted Sunday through Wednesday. 

Vice President Harris

Harris’ job rating is underwater by 13 points (40 approve vs. 53 disapprove).  Six months ago, it was net +3 (50-47 percent). Since June, her approval is down among Democrats (-12 points), independents (-10), and Republicans (-9). 

More think Harris is unqualified to be president (51 percent) than say she is (44 percent).  Those saying she’s up to the job include 83 percent of Black voters, 77 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of women, 43 percent of independents, and 13 percent of Republicans. 

Conducted November 14-17, 2021 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,003 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. 

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.

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