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Did Biden’s Approval Rating Plummet in a January 2022 Poll?

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In a January 12 2022 Quinnipiac poll, U.S. President Joe Biden's approval rating plummeted to just above 30 percent.

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On January 13 2022, Trendolizer detected a virally popular blog post, “Biden’s Approval Rating Plummets To Nearly 30% In New Poll” from the site JoePags.com.

It was not the first misleading or poorly contexted blog about polling we have examined, and it began as follows:

President Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 33% in a left-leaning mainstream poll released on [January 12 2022] as his administration has overseen the inflation crisis, the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

“Americans give President Joe Biden a negative 33 – 53 percent job approval rating, while 13 percent did not offer an opinion,” Quinnipiac University reported. “In November 2021, Americans gave Biden a negative 36 – 53 percent job approval rating with 10 percent not offering an opinion.”

Biden’s approval has also fallen among Democrats.

“Among Democrats in today’s poll, 75 percent approve, 14 percent disapprove and 11 percent did not offer an opinion,” Quinnipiac University reported. “Among Democrats in November’s poll, 87 percent approved, 7 percent disapproved and 6 percent did not offer an opinion.”

That site linked to a January 12 2022 press release from pollster Quinnipiac, “Political Instability Not U.S. Adversaries, Seen As Bigger Threat, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Nearly 6 In 10 Think Nation’s Democracy Is In Danger Of Collapse.” Biden’s approval ratings were not mentioned in the title.

JoePags.com described Quinnipiac as a “left leaning” polling outfit; FiveThirtyEight.com’s pollster rating for Quinnipiac can be found here. Quinnipiac summarized portions of the poll in sections, one of which was titled “BIDEN JOB APPROVALS”:

Americans give President Joe Biden a negative 33 – 53 percent job approval rating, while 13 percent did not offer an opinion. In November 2021, Americans gave Biden a negative 36 – 53 percent job approval rating with 10 percent not offering an opinion.

Among Democrats in today’s poll, 75 percent approve, 14 percent disapprove and 11 percent did not offer an opinion.

Among Democrats in November’s poll, 87 percent approved, 7 percent disapproved and 6 percent did not offer an opinion.

Among registered voters in today’s poll, Biden receives a negative 35 – 54 percent job approval rating with 11 percent not offering an opinion.

In November, registered voters gave him a negative 38 – 53 percent job approval rating with 9 percent not offering an opinion.

Among adults, Americans give negative scores on the following three issues when asked about Biden’s handling of…

  • the economy: 34 percent approve, while 57 percent disapprove;
  • foreign policy: 35 percent approve, while 54 percent disapprove;
  • the response to the coronavirus: 39 percent approve, while 55 percent disapprove.

After the summary, Quinnipiac included answer breakdowns by party affiliation and demographic:

biden poll plummet january 2022

In that section, a cumulative approval rating of 33 percent appeared; 2 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats were counted on the “Approve” line. On the “Disapprove” line, 53 percent of respondents were listed; 95 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats appeared.

In a follow-up question, those polled were asked to clarify if they “strongly or somewhat approve/disapprove” of Biden’s performance:

biden jan 2022 poll quinnipiac left leaning

In the second question above, 17 percent of “approve” respondents in total chose “approve strongly,” while 16 percent chose “approve somewhat.” Conversely, 43 percent of “disapprove” respondents chose “disapprove strongly,” while ten percent selected “disapprove somewhat.”

As with the initial question of overall approval, party line responses seemed to influence the poll significantly. Of Democrats who chose “approve,” 43 percent and 31 percent “approve strongly” and “approve somewhat” respectively. Meanwhile, 86 percent of Republicans who chose “disapprove” selected “disapprove strongly,” with only nine percent choosing “disapprove somewhat.”

Partisan trends in the crosstabs did not go unnoticed in discourse about the Quinnipiac poll. Legal analyst Joyce Vance tweeted:

New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker cited contemporaneous polling, hinting at possible cherry-picking in selective coverage of Quinnipiac’s poll:

Baker tweeted again with figures of historic presidential approval ratings for context:

As Baker noted in the first tweet, Quinnipiac was not the sole conductor of polls covering Biden’s approval rating. Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight.com’s routinely updated “How [un]popular is Joe Biden?” landing page included ongoing ratings from multiple polls:

joe biden polls jan 2022

In a date range between January 6 and 12 2022, FiveThirtyEight.com aggregated the results of polling by five pollsters: Rasmussen Reports, Morning Consult, YouGov, Decision Desk HQ, and Quinnipiac University. Biden’s highest approval rating on the chart was from Decision Desk HQ at 47 percent; his lowest was Quinnipiac at 33 percent.

At the top of the page, the title alternated between “How popular is …” and “How unpopular is …” Joe Biden. The longer range indicated that Biden’s popularity dipped on or around August 24 2021, and remained relatively flat after that:

joe biden poll 2022 jan approval

Finally, the JoePags.com item didn’t include the first few paragraphs of the Quinnipiac poll press release, where context for the figures which followed appeared:

In a sharply divided country, Americans agree on this: the bigger danger to the United States comes from within. Seventy-six percent say they think political instability within the country is a bigger danger to the United States compared to the 19 percent who think other countries that are adversaries of the United States are the bigger danger, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released today.

Democrats say 83 – 13 percent, independents say 78 – 19 percent, and Republicans say 66 – 29 percent that political instability in the U.S. is the bigger danger.

A majority of Americans, 58 – 37 percent, think the nation’s democracy is in danger of collapse.

Republicans say 62 – 36 percent, independents say 57 – 39 percent, and Democrats say 56 – 37 percent they think the nation’s democracy is in danger of collapse.

A virally popular blog post (“Biden’s Approval Rating Plummets To Nearly 30% In New Poll”) was published on January 12 2022, the same day Quinnipiac University published their latest poll. Of the five polls FiveThirtyEight.com listed on their Biden approval ratings page, Quinnipiac had the lowest approval numbers for polling in early January 2022. Biden’s popularity dipped in mid-August 2021 and stayed fairly flat from there, and the poll’s detailed figures revealed a sharp partisan divide. Moreover, Quinnipiac cited widespread fears of “political instability” and a democracy in “danger of collapse” as their poll’s largest takeaway.