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President Biden’s approval rating is improving, but will he seek second term?

Columnist Eric Black writes, “After declining steadily, one tiny tenth-of-a-point at a time, unrelentingly for the first year and a half of his term, President Biden’s approval rating has rallied by five percentage points over the past month and a half.”

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden
REUTERS/Leah Millis

As they did with presidents Trump and Obama, the folks at the politics-obsessed website fivethirtyeight.com track the approval ratings of Joe Biden on a daily basis. Using an algorithm, they mush together a great many polls done by others and update the average.

I’m sure I couldn’t understand their algorithm, but I click on it almost daily and, as you likely know, for the first year and a half of Biden’s term it has been a disaster for ol’ Joe from Scranton. (I’ll provide a link below if you want to see for yourself.)

I was never Biden’s biggest admirer but, even before he sealed the nomination, I saw evidence that he was the Democrat most likely to defeat Donald Trump. And (although, of course, we can’t know for sure that none of the other Dem contenders wouldn’t have done it) he succeeded, perhaps saving democracy in America in the process. (We’ll see if it stays saved.)

As I continued to follow the day-by-day ups-and-(mostly)-downs of his approval ratings I hoped, and pretty-much assumed that after a term in the job he had wanted for decades, and considering his advancing age and declining approval, Biden would announce that he would not seek a second term.

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I still think he might. If I had to get a bet down, I would bet that way. But there’s been a change in the trajectory of his formerly-always-declining approval rating. 

After declining steadily, one tiny tenth-of-a-point at a time, unrelentingly for the first year and a half of his term, his approval rating has rallied by five percentage points over the past month and a half. Not five-tenths of a point. Five points. (And his disapproval number has, of course, also gone down by a similar quotient.)

He’s still “under water,” as they say. At noon on Tuesday, as I write this, the 538 average has him exactly 10 points under water. 42.8 approval to 52.8 disapproval. But he’s cut the gap from 20 to 10, and the momentum has been steady. Ten points under is not good, but a lot better than 20, where Biden was as recently as late July.

The current oldest age of a president when he left office was Ronald Reagan at 77. Biden was older than that on the day he took office and will be 83 on the day his (current) term ends in 2025. 

I’m absolutely not arguing for Biden to seek a second term nor predicting that he will. If I had to get a bet down, I’d bet “no.” And my (not particularly brilliant) gut tells me that he will find a time in 2023 to say so. 

By the way, if you are sufficiently obsessed (as am I ) to want to bookmark and regularly check the fivethirtyeight.com average approval rating, it’s right here.