It may not have risen much, and it’s off an all-time low, but for the first time during his presidency, Joe Biden’s approval rating on Main Street has gone up.
After reaching an approval rating among small business owners of 31% during the third quarter of 2022, when inflation peaked, President Biden’s approval rating rose to 34% in the fourth quarter. , the first time in the eight quarters of his presidency, there was no increase in the quarterly poll conducted by CNBC and SurveyMonkey.
It’s a sign of Biden’s political strength after the midterm elections, but the midterm elections, in particular, may not be the only, or even the best, explanation for the reversal of this trend. . In several national public polls, Biden’s approval has been rising since August, when gas prices began to fall and the president made key legislative achievements that had stalled earlier in his term, including the bill. on reducing inflation and the CHIPS Act to stimulate domestic manufacturing.
The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey for Q4 2022 was conducted November 9-11. 16 out of nearly 2,600 small business owners. The last time CNBC polled small business owners was in late July, just before several national polls began showing a modest increase in Biden’s approval ratings, and in particular, small gains made by the president among the Democrats. In the CNBC | SurveyMonkey, Biden’s approval rating has risen slightly among Democrats and independents — 83% of Democrats and 31% of independents approve of Biden this quarter, up from 81% of Democrats and 29% of independents last quarter.
Among the general public – the CNBC poll | SurveyMonkey includes a parallel sample of more than 11,000 Americans who don’t own a business — 45% approve of Biden, up slightly from last quarter (41%) but still down sharply from the all-time high rate of approval established in the first quarter of Biden’s presidency (59%). Biden’s approval rating still remains highly partisan: only 8% of Republican small business owners approve of President Biden.
Regardless of the contributing factors and timing of Biden’s bump, the improvement is noticeable. “This is the first quarter of Biden’s presidency where we’ve seen any improvement in Biden’s approval among small business owners, so that’s important because it breaks the trend,” said Laura Wronski, chief executive. principal of scientific research at Momentive.
“We don’t know yet, but this could be the start of a reversal in his favor on Main Street and in the country at large, and it also coincides with a similar increase in approval in polling aggregations since the end of the summer until now,” she said. “While there has been no tectonic economic shift since the third quarter, there have been incremental improvements and these are adding up in favor of the Biden administration,” she added.
Gasoline prices hit their lowest level in more than a year this week.
Small business owners are more confident this quarter than last, with the overall survey up slightly and recession fears waning quarter over quarter. It’s not that Main Street doesn’t see a recession coming, but business owners are now less likely than a quarter ago to say the economy is already in one, and the majority of respondents survey indicated that their business is poised to survive an economic downturn.
“Whether it’s gasoline prices, inflation, or legislative achievements, I certainly think there’s plenty of evidence of a slight improvement, but not of a continued increase,” he said. Charles Franklin, political scientist and principal of Marquette University. Law school survey. “It pulled him out of the worst of his slump,” he said.
Biden still remains underwater with the public, and with small business owners, in every poll. The first Gallup poll taken since midterms and released earlier this week showed no further gains in Biden’s approval, steady at 40%.
Marquette’s poll after the midterms showed a slight increase (5%) in the percentage of Democrats saying they would like to see Biden run for re-election. But the president is still “under water” on that, at 49%, even with his data and the CNBC poll showing Biden standing tall among Democrats.
Economic risks to Biden’s endorsement remain
With his approval ratings improved but off a low benchmark, the precarious position of the economy could threaten any gains Biden may have made.
Gallup editor Jeff Jones said Biden would need more tangible progress on the economy, including signs of more decelerating inflation, if his approval ratings don’t stabilize – in the polls Gallup, that reading has been steady at 40% since September. “You’d have to see something more dramatic for that to happen more,” Jones said, noting that Gallup data also shows Americans’ financial distress indicators have been flat since August, even as gasoline prices were down about $1 from their peak.
The good employment situation has helped to cushion the impact of inflation, but if layoffs resume, it could also hurt Biden’s gains. “That would be a recipe for plummeting presidential approval,” Franklin said. The Federal Reserve needs unemployment to rise as part of the expected impact of monetary policy on inflation. “You need falling jobs to control inflation…damned if you do, and damned if you don’t,” Franklin said. “I’m not an economist, but I make the economic future very precarious,” he added.
Small business owners responding to the CNBC survey continue to rate inflation as the No. 1 risk to their business and aren’t convinced it will drop significantly, even though it has been trending lower. decline in recent months outside of labor market indicators. On Friday, headline inflation data was warmer than expected.
But for now, at least, Biden’s position is on the rise. “The base case of where the bottom was and relative stability after the midterms holds up,” Franklin said.
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