Voters a A poor assessment of President Joe Biden’s job performance as he and former President Donald Trump prepare for a 2024 rematch. They also look back more fondly on Trump’s tenure than before.
According to a recent national NBC News poll, only 14% of registered voters say Biden is doing a better job as president than they expected. Another 42% said Biden had done worse than they expected, and 44% said his tenure had gone as well as they expected.
However, 40% said Trump’s presidency was better than expected, 29% said it was worse, and 31% said it was as expected.
The ratings for Trump are slightly better than when NBC News asked the same question about his administration in August 2018. Then, 29% of registered voters said the Trump administration was doing better than expected, while 27% said it was worse. 43% said that it went as expected.
Biden’s low ratings stem in part from frustration within his own party. While 52% of Democrats say his administration has met expectations, 30% say it’s better than they expected, and 18% say it’s worse. Trump inspires loyalty among more enthusiastic Republicans, with 80% of his party saying his administration is better than expected and just 6% saying it is worse. Another 24% of Republicans said Trump’s tenure was as expected.
Critically, Trump is doing better than Biden with independent voters – 38% say the Trump administration is doing better than expected, 43% say it is doing as well as expected, and 18% say it is worse. Just 6% of independents believe the Biden administration is doing better than they expected, while 52% say it has gotten worse.
When respondents were asked to expand on their feelings about both candidates in short, blunt answers, most of the answers were about the economy and the border.
“On every front: immigration, wars, the economy, you name it. He must close the border. They are pushing him hard. He should take over as a superpower like us,” one Illinois Republican man in his 40s said of Biden. “He was spending a lot of money and that caused inflation to skyrocket, so prices are very high.”
Others who have a low view of Biden’s presidency have cited his age, concerns about his competence or frustration that the country still seems divided.
“As far as I’m concerned, the economy is stagnant. I don’t see it getting better or worse, but I don’t see anything that’s going to make it better,” said the New York independent woman who voted for Biden in 2020.
“In 2020, he continued to bring us together and instead drove us further apart. I’d like to see someone bring the country together,” he said.
Voters in Biden’s base are more sympathetic, but many are frustrated by what they perceive as his inaction.
A South Carolina man in his mid-30s, who identifies as an independent and said he’s voting for Biden in 2020, felt he hadn’t followed through on promises he made during that election, including student debt relief and child care. While Biden has pushed for many progressive policies in the Better Recovery Act of 2021, including extending the child tax credit and other policies, he had no voices to pass that bill in the Senate. The Democrats eventually agreed and a slimmed down offer a year later, it lacked some of Biden’s signature goals.
“When it comes to Biden, at least nothing that I can say has touched me, ‘Yes, there was a leak,'” said New Jersey Democrat Dionne Holt, who voted for Biden in 2020.
Holt added that while he sees job numbers and the stock market improving, he’s not convinced Biden’s policies are responsible. And he added that even amid the broader good news, he continues to see headlines about significant layoffs across the country.
“Nothing is because of him. “It’s so weird that I don’t feel it, but I don’t feel it,” he said. “I just don’t see where it stimulates the economy.”
Other 2020 Biden voters also criticized his handling of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Among the 14% who said Biden was doing better than expected, many cited the improving economy, his fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, his pushback against Trump and his policies on issues such as infrastructure and the environment.
Kenichi Nishikawa, a California Democrat in his mid-50s who voted for Biden, said he sees an economy turning around, which is the No. 1 reason he believes Biden is doing a good job.
“I think the economy is doing better than anyone expected. I think he got a better reception from the Republican Party than I expected. I think it’s been through really good programs like the CHIPS initiative and infrastructure. [law],” he said.
“I think the economy is the biggest thing because all the numbers are going in the right direction,” he said.
The vast majority of Republicans have fond memories of Trump’s tenure and see it as a mirror image of the current administration.
“I think the economy was growing and the country was safe. “Well, we had a border and we didn’t have any wars, we didn’t have any wars with other foreign countries,” said the Illinois Republican in his mid-50s.
Independents and even Democrats have pointed to similar things, mainly the economy and immigration, in explaining why they think the Trump administration is doing better than expected.
Those who think the Trump administration is worse than expected mainly cite its response to the pandemic, its personal behavior and actions related to rejecting the results of the 2020 election and the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
But Holt, a New Jersey Biden voter who has been pessimistic about his administration, pointed to Trump’s limitations, even with some voters who believe his tenure has gone better than expected.
Asked if Biden’s funnier views on Trump’s tenure meant he would be eyeing Trump in 2024, he said emphatically, “no way.”
“He’s just not good for the country,” Holt said, referring to the Capitol attack.
“You cross a line of no return no matter what,” he said.
The NBC News poll of 1,000 registered voters — 867 of whom were contacted by cellphone — was conducted Jan. 26-30 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.