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Biden Faces Electoral Crossroads as Approval Wanes, Casting Shadow on 2024 Prospects

President Joe Biden finds himself navigating the challenges of an election year with a dwindling approval rating, sparking concerns about his prospects for a second term in the White House. The persistent hurdle for Biden is an average approval rating that has lingered below 50 percent for over two years, reflecting dissatisfaction with his handling of critical issues such as the economy, immigration, and foreign policy.

The Afghan Withdrawal Fallout

Washington DC, USA – Joe Biden, to be inaugurated as 46th president of the United States. Stylized portrait with US flag as background. — Photo by MikeEdwards

In the initial phase of his presidency, Biden enjoyed approval ratings around the mid-50s. However, a pivotal moment occurred with the controversial U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, marked by a suicide bombing at Kabul airport that claimed over 180 lives, including 13 U.S. service personnel. This event triggered a significant drop in Biden’s approval rating, falling below the critical 50 percent threshold—a dip that has persisted in subsequent months.

Biden’s Approval Rating At 37 Percent

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As of December 17, according to FiveThirtyEight’s live average poll tracker, Biden’s net disapproval rating stands at 16.5 points, reflecting a disapproval rate of 55.4 percent and an approval rate of 38.9 percent. Notably, this places him just above his all-time lowest average approval rating of 37.6 percent, recorded earlier in the same month.

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A Comparison of Approval Ratings

NEW YORK, USA – Sep 19, 2017: President of the United States Donald Trump speaks at the general political discussion during the 72th session of the UN Assembly in New York — Photo by palinchak

Comparatively, Donald Trump, the anticipated Republican contender in the 2024 election, faced a similar scenario during his presidency. In December 2017, his average approval rating hit 36.4 percent, and as he left office in January 2021, it was marginally higher at 38.6 percent.

Recent Polls Favor Trump in Hypothetical Matchups

NEW YORK, USA – Sep 21, 2017: Meeting of the President of the United States Donald Trump with the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in New York — Photo by palinchak

Recent polls suggest that Trump, despite only serving a single term, is perceived more favorably than Biden in key areas, gaining preference in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.

Growing Concerns About Biden’s Age

KIEV, UKRAINE – Jan 16, 2017: Vice president of USA Joe Biden during his visit to Kiev and meeting with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko — Photo by palinchak

Several surveys have painted a challenging picture for the 81-year-old Biden, with concerns about his age and calls for an alternative Democratic candidate in the upcoming election. In a survey conducted by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, nearly half (49 percent) of voters expressed disapproval of the president’s job performance, while 35 percent approved.

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Nearly Half of Voters Disapprove of Biden’s Performance

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM. 24th March 2022. Joe Biden, President of United States of America, during press conference after NATO extraordinary SUMMIT 2022. — Photo by gints.ivuskans

A Wall Street Journal poll published on December 9 revealed that voters favor Trump over Biden in hypothetical head-to-head races by four points (47 percent to 43 percent). Additionally, respondents overwhelmingly believed that Trump would outperform Biden in handling critical issues like the economy, inflation, and border protection.

NYT Poll

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In November, a New York Times/Siena College poll further fueled concerns for Biden’s camp, showing Trump leading in five key swing states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania—all of which Biden had won in the 2020 election.

Rising Concerns

(NEW) US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House. July 11, 2022, Washington, USA: US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, during a speech at the White House in Washington on Monday (11). Biden spoke about the historic passage of the Bipartisan Safe Communities Act. The proposal was drafted by a group of senators from the Democratic and Republican parties. Voting took place on Thursday, June 23. Congressmen approved by 65 votes to 33. Credit: Kyle Mazza/TheNews2 (Foto: Kyle Mazza/TheNews2/Deposit Photos)

Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist based in New York, highlighted the perplexing nature of Biden’s poll numbers despite positive economic indicators to Newsweek. “The improving U.S. economy—inflation down, interest rates down, jobs up—should be boosting President Biden, but they’re not,” Sheinkopf noted, attributing part of the challenge to generational conflicts and a sense of things being out of control, particularly among younger voters and African Americans showing less intensity of support for the president.

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Trump’s Legal Hurdles

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As the election year unfolds, Biden has underscored the stakes involved, framing the 2024 contest as a defense of democracy against the potential resurgence of Trump. Notably, Trump, currently the frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary, faces a significant hurdle with four criminal trials where he has pleaded not guilty to a total of 91 charges. Polls suggest that if Trump is a convicted felon by the time of the 2024 election, many Republicans may reconsider supporting him.

Trump Dismisses Criminal Investigations as Politically Motivated Witch Hunts

Credit: Donald Trump, republican presidential candidate. Vector illustration. — Vector by rb.octopus.vc

Trump, however, vehemently denies any wrongdoing, dismissing the criminal investigations as politically motivated “witch hunts” aimed at thwarting his electoral prospects.

Binder’s Optimism

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, USA – NOVEMBER 23, 2013: The Thomas G. Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida. The Library has 300 public workstations, 17 group study rooms, 37 carrels, 21 faculty, 24 support staff, over 1.4 million microform un — Photo by ventanamedia

Michael Binder, a professor of political science at the University of North Florida, remains optimistic about Biden’s prospects, noting that 11 months remain until the election. He suggests that time is on Biden’s side, and there is a chance that undecided voters or those skeptical of Biden may eventually view him as the preferable candidate come November 2024.

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Shift in Assessment

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 “Obviously, any elected official would prefer to have +16 job approval as opposed to +16 disapproval, but a lot can and will change over the coming year,” Binder commented. He emphasized that the assessment of job approval will shift from a comparison to an idealized standard to a direct comparison between Biden and Trump once they become the official nominees.

Binder’s Forecast

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“At this point, Democrats can still imagine their own perfect version of a Democrat, but once Biden and Trump are the official nominees, expectations change, and suddenly Biden will look a lot better to Dems and anti-Trump independents and Republicans,” Binder added.

Coming Months Crucial

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While challenges persist for Biden, the fluid nature of politics allows for potential shifts in public opinion, making it uncertain how voters will view Biden and Trump as the election approaches. The coming months will likely witness dynamic developments that could reshape the political landscape and impact the trajectory of the 2024 presidential race.

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