More than a third of Americans see the economy as the most pressing problem facing the country (36%). Of the group that sees it that way, 72% say Biden hasn’t been paying attention to the right issues. This dynamic is reversed among the smallest 20% who see the coronavirus pandemic as the country’s main problem: 79% in this subset say Biden had the right priorities, while 21% did not.
In total, 48% of adults approve of the way Biden handles work while 52% disapprove. The intensity within these notes breaks sharply against the president. The share saying she strongly approves of Biden’s performance has fallen to just 15%, from 34% in April. While CNN doesn’t ask for the force of approval in all polls, that number never dropped below 20% during the presidencies of Barack Obama or Donald Trump.
In the new poll, 36% say they strongly disapprove of Biden’s handling of the presidency, and that figure is about the same as when CNN last asked for the strength of approval in April, suggesting that The decline in approval in recent months has been driven more by the disappointment of his original supporters than by the enlargement of the group that initially strongly opposed his presidency.
The poll ended November 1-4, before the bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed.
The nearly 6 in 10 who say Biden didn’t have the right priorities is similar to the part who felt that way about Trump in September 2017 (59%) and who said the same about Obama in January 2010 (55%). Both presidential parties suffered significant losses in Congress in midterm elections held in the second year of their tenure.
Registered voters, however, give Biden’s party a narrow advantage in a generic congressional clash, with 49% saying they would support the Democrat in their district midway through next year and 44% the Republican. That’s about the same as the Democratic advantage in CNN polls in November 2009 (49% Democrats vs. 43% Republicans). The ongoing congressional redistribution could change how those preferences translate into actual seats in Congress, but recent elections suggest Democrats generally win a smaller share of seats than overall votes.
New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial results suggest Republicans are currently more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats, which could hurt Democrats’ chances as well.
About half (52% of registered voters) say their 2022 vote will not be about Biden, but those who think they are using their vote to say something about the president are more negative (26% texting to oppose Biden) than positive (19% sending a message to support it).
About two-thirds of Americans say they are confident that next year’s congressional election will run fairly (65%), but that only includes 31% who are very confident. The effects of repeated lies on the validity of the 2020 election are clear: Republicans express significantly less confidence than Democrats in the fairness of upcoming contests. Overall, just 40% of Republicans say they are confident the election will run fairly, compared to 84% of Democrats. Among independents, 66% are convinced that the elections will be fair.
And as the election year approaches, the landscape of the nation’s problems appears to be changing. With the latest wave of Covid-19 infections falling and prices rising, the economy (36%) overtakes the coronavirus pandemic (20%) as the biggest problem facing the country. Immigration (14%) and climate change (11%) follow and are the only other issues to land in double digits, followed by national security (8%), racial injustice (5%) and l education (3%).
The nation’s main concerns – like its opinions on many topics – are sharply divided by party. Among Republicans, about half (51%) choose the economy as their main concern, with immigration (23%) and national security (13%) falling far behind. Only 4% of Republicans call the coronavirus the most important problem in the country. The independents also rate the peaks of the economy (38%), followed by the coronavirus (18%), immigration (13%) and the climate (11%). Among Democrats, however, 34% cite the coronavirus as the main problem, followed by the economy at 20%, roughly even with the weather at 18%. Another 8% say immigration is their main problem. Only 3% of Democrats cite national security as their main issue, with Republicans equally unlikely to focus on climate change, racial injustice or education.
The connection between perceptions of the main issue and opinions about whether Biden got the right priorities is strong, and even among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, the share saying Biden got the wrong priorities is climbing to 42% of those who call the economy the main problem, compared to 17% of those who see the coronavirus as the main problem.
And although Biden’s approval ratings are heavily biased by party, the new poll finds Biden’s disapproval rating is rising among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. In the new poll, 21% say they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the presidency. That figure was 17% last month. Biden’s weakness within this subset seems to come from the young. While almost all adults 65 or older who are Democrats or Democrats approve of Biden’s performance (95% approve), among those under 30 the approval drops to 61%, with just 9% saying they strongly approve of Biden’s performance as president.
The CNN poll was conducted by the SSRS from Nov. 1-4 with a random national sample of 1,004 adults surveyed online after being recruited using probabilistic methods. The results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points, among the 859 registered voters surveyed, it is plus or minus 4.3 points. It is larger for subgroups.