Polling News

Biden Delivers Brazen Address Despite Low Approval

February 09, 2023

This week, President Joe Biden delivered his third State of the Union address. Data from Gallup shows this address happened as Mr. Biden has the third lowest job approval at this point in his term of any president of the last ten.

Why It Matters: The speech was expected to strike far more of a unifying tone as he set the stage for his likely 2024 re-elect. Instead, the address was one of the most brazen and, at times, openly provocative towards Republicans, of Mr. Biden’s three congressional addresses since taking office. The speech was much harsher than those of previous presidents, even though eight of the last ten predecessors were in a stronger position in the polls at this point.

By The Numbers:

  • President Reagan was in the worst position at the outset of his third year with 36% approval in 1983; President Trump wasn’t in much better shape at this point, with 37% approval in 2019.
  • Presidents George H.W. Bush and John F. Kennedy were at the top of the field at this point in time with 75% and 74% job approval, respectively. 

 

A Marked Tonal Difference: The two presidents with the lowest approval struck a note far different from that of President Biden this week. President Reagan spoke to a divided Congress with a House Democratic majority that had just gained 26 seats in his first midterm, while President Trump addressed the first Democratic House majority since 2010 and a Republican Senate majority that had just gained two new members. Both presidents emphasized unity and a moving forward in a bipartisan way. Reagan only directly addressed the Democrats once, while Trump directly addressed them three times. For both, it was in the context of working together to achieve the best results for Americans. 

President Biden directly addressed congressional Republicans eleven times. Half the instances were indictments of their opposition to his agenda. For a president approaching a newly elected Republican House majority, the semi-combative tone was unnecessary.

The Bottom Line: Now teetering around the lowest numbers of his term, President Biden is likely hoping for better job approval numbers before launching his re-elect. Republicans would be well-advised to continue pressing the narrative that Biden’s first two years have been devoid of major meaningful policy wins and discussing what future proposals might result in. Republicans have an opportunity to be the adults in the room, focused on solving real issues like the crisis at the border, the fentanyl pandemic, looming threats from China, schools worth of students’ potential, and inflation. As Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders put it in her response, Republicans must make the case their ideas are better and common sense. Republicans are for common sense, not crazy.

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