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Analysis: The *real* question to ask about Joe Biden’s rising approval numbers

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From falling gas prices to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act to the re-emergence of Donald Trump as a 2022 campaign issue, things have been going very well for the President of late.

“[The] shift in political momentum has helped boost, in just two months, the president’s approval rating by nine percentage points and doubled the share of Americans who believe the country is on the right track.”

The poll found that 42% of registered voters nationally approve of Biden’s job performance, up from 33% in July.

And a look at the News84Media Poll of Polls on Biden’s average approval rating makes it clear that the Times/Siena poll is not a one-off. Biden’s numbers hit rock bottom around late July/early August at 36% and have been, generally speaking, on the rise since, up to 41% now.

The key question to ask now, then, is not whether Biden is on the comeback trail. He clearly is. The real question is: How high will Biden’s numbers get between now and Election Day?

Consider the history here. From Gallup:

“In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.”

Which is a pretty startling difference, right?

Now, it’s worth noting here that the margins in Congress are so tight that even if Democrats lost 14 seats in the House this year, they would lose their majority. And if they lost even a single seat in the Senate, they would find themselves in the minority there, too.

That said, there’s no doubt that Biden at, say, 47% or 48% job approval, is a far better thing for Democrats than Biden at 37% or 38%. That’s particularly true if the trend line is, as it is right now, moving upward for Biden as the election approaches, helping provide Democrats with momentum where there was none before.

Can Biden get over the critical 50% barrier? It seems unlikely given that the election is now only 53 days away.

(Sidebar: The last time Biden’s job approval rating hit 50% in Gallup’s polling (was more than a year ago — in July 2021.)

The Point: Every job approval point counts for Democrats as they try to hold onto their razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate. Biden is trending in the right direction, but the question is whether that growth continues — and how fast.

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