Just nine days into his Presidency, Joe Biden begins with honeymoon numbers from the American public. A new online poll from John Zogby Strategies, conducted on January 29, shows Mr. Biden with a 56% approval rating (31% strongly approve, 25% somewhat approve), while 36% disapprove of his handling of his new job. Eight percent were undecided. The poll of 841 likely voters nationwide has an overall margin-of-sampling error of +/-3.5 percentage points.
Mr. Biden draws strength from younger voters, the same group that propelled him to victory. Sixty-one percent of both 18–29-year-old and 30–49-year-old voters approve of him, while 32% and 31% respectively disapprove. While his support dips down to 47% approval and 45% disapproval among 50–64-year-olds, a majority of voters over 65 approve (55%-38%). He lost this oldest group in the last election by 5 points to former President Donald Trump, 52%-47%).
Mr. Biden is approved by whites (49%-44%), Hispanics (71%-24%), and Blacks (73%-18%). In addition to strong support from Very Liberal voters (77%) and Liberals (87%), he has the support of Moderates (69%) – as well as 30% approval each from self-described Conservative and Very Conservative voters. This latter group gave him only 14% of their votes in 2020. Thirty percent of Republicans, 54% of independents, and 89% of Democrats appear to be in his corner. While he lost the vote among men in November, he is now supported by a majority of men (57%) and women (55%).
By and large he has picked up some support among groups that are usually across the aisle from him and the Democratic Party – white, conservative, men, and older voters. This is old-fashioned politics where a new President seeks to build on the goodwill of a victorious election and successful inauguration ceremony. Given the hyper-partisanship of the past two decades, Mr. Biden’s numbers are impressive. During Mr. Trump’s troubled tenure, he could always count on about 41%-42% as a solid base of support. His controversial departure from office has clearly dissipated some of that base and offers an opportunity for President Biden to build and maintain a governing majority.
In other evidence of shifting loyalties, the new John Zogby Strategies poll asked voters if they thought Mr. Trump should be convicted or not in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial. Just under half favored a conviction (49%) while 41% were opposed. Once again, the ever-growing in both numbers and influence younger voters strongly favor conviction (54% each among 18-29- and 30-49-year-old-voters), while just 28% and 36% opposed it respectively. Older voters are not as sanguine about conviction with 50-64 -year-old voters (41% convict, 50% not convict) and voters over 65 (47% convict, 48% not convict).
While Mr. Trump’s once-solid base has suffered from some erosion, they are not willing yet to label him a criminal. Or at least go through a process likely to fail again. Nonetheless, 28% of Conservatives and 21% of Very Conservatives appear ready to convict him. That is enough to cause some damage to the Republican block which gave Mr. Trump 94% of their vote in 2020. It is also a guide to see how to watch the trial and the internal dynamics of GOP politics unfold before our eyes.
In other results from the Zogby Strategies survey:
- 42% said they were optimistic about the US future, while 39% described themselves as pessimistic. Not surprisingly, partisanship drove a lot of this response as Very Liberal (60%), Liberal (56%), and Moderate voters (49% said they were optimistic, while Conservative (54%) and Very Conservative voters (49% said they were pessimistic).
- If the 2020 election were done over, Joe Biden would pretty much match his actual performance with 50% support while Donald Trump would earn just 33% of the vote. One in nine (11%) said they would select someone else and 6% were not sure.
For the record, the final 2020 election poll by John Zogby Strategies, published the day before Election Day, showed Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 5.6 percentage points. Mr. Biden won the election by 4.5 points.