Biden’s Approval Numbers Dropping Amid Resurgent Pandemic, Afghanistan Withdrawal

America’s approval rating of President Biden is hovering just above 40%, according to a new batch of polls. But, political writer Russell Berman, notes this isn’t unusual around this time in past presidential terms.

President Biden’s role in Afghanistan and his handling of the pandemic are both factors that are impacting Americans’ opinions about Biden’s performance as president thus far. According to a recent batch of polling, support for Biden’s performance as president has declined.

As Russell Berman of The Atlantic writes, “losing a war undermines the public’s trust in any leader. But the setback causing the most damage to Joe Biden’s political standing likely isn’t the U.S. military defeat in Afghanistan — it’s the frustrating homefront struggle against the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.” Berman weighs in on the variety of factors at play as the American public weighs in on Biden’s performance thus far. 

Listen: Political writer Russell Berman on why Biden’s approval is slipping according to new polls.


Russell Berman is a staff writer at The Atlantic where he covers politics. Berman says polls show Biden’s approval rating is down to its lowest level since he’s taken office. And while Berman explains that on the surface, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is a significant factor, the pandemic and the unexpected rise of the delta variant is also playing at America’s more general frustrations with day-to-day life. Berman says some polls showed Biden’s approval rating as just hovering above 40% — resembling approval numbers closer to those seen during the Trump presidency. However, Berman is quick to point out that a dip in approval around this time in a first presidential term isn’t that strange. 

“It’s very common for a president to lose support over that first year either because of external events or because people who didn’t vote for him are reminded of why they didn’t vote for him,” says Berman. “We saw that back in 2009 with Obama … it was really around this time, August of 2009 you saw the backlash from the health care bill, the rise of the Tea Party and [Obama’s] approval rating started to go down and stayed down,” explains Berman. He adds that this is why midterm elections are often very difficult for the party in power, and Democrats in 2021 are no exception. “They are worried heading into 2022,” Berman says.  

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