Biden Unites Americans — In Opposition to His Handling of Immigration and the Economy

A recent poll reveals voters don’t support the president’s policies

By Andrew R. Arthur on June 23, 2022

Capitol Hill paper Politico and opinion outfit Morning Consult just released the results of a poll they conducted between June 17 and 20 of 2,004 registered voters. The good news for President Biden is that he is uniting Americans. The bad news for him is that it is in opposition to his handling of immigration and the economy.

The numbers are not good for the president overall in that poll. Just 16 percent of respondents strongly approve of Biden’s performance as chief executive, and an additional 26 percent somewhat approve, for an overall approval rating of 42 percent.

That same percentage of respondents, 42 percent, strongly disapprove of the job that Biden is doing, and an additional 13 percent somewhat disapprove, for an overall disapproval rating of 55 percent. That means that the president is 13 points under water with the voters on his overall performance.

Immigration. Then, there is immigration. Biden’s overall approval numbers are scintillating compared to the grades that he receives on this specific topic.

Just 11 percent strongly approve of Biden’s handling of immigration, which likely represents the very floor of the president’s support. An additional 23 percent somewhat approve of the job that Biden is doing on immigration, for an overall approval rating of 34 percent.

“Forty-two” is plainly not the president’s lucky number in this poll, because that is the percentage of respondents who strongly disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration. Add in an additional 12 percent who somewhat disapprove of the job that Biden is doing when it comes to the subject, and you get to overall disapproval of 54 percent. That leaves Biden 20 points in the red on immigration.

To put all of this into context, that 11 percent strong approval rating is the lowest such grade that Biden received across 14 topic areas, ranging from the economy to education, gun policy, and climate change.

The Economy. Speaking of the economy, Biden’s handling of this subject area drew a slightly higher “strongly disapprove” rating (44 percent) than his handling of immigration.

Given the parlous state of the American economy, with inflation rising faster than wages, stocks in or nearing a bear market, and the national average price of gasoline nearing $5 per gallon, the 13 percent strong approval that Biden received on the economy must reflect the sentiments of those who long for the days of the Carter administration.

In any event, the economy was the only subject area in which Biden received a larger percentage of respondents who “strongly disapproved” of his handling than immigration. It is also the only subject area in which Biden is even more under water with the electorate (60 percent overall disapprove vs. 32 percent overall approve, for a minus 28).

Biden’s score on immigration and the economy is even more significant given the fact that, as noted, the president’s overall approval is 42 percent, and that he is “just” 13 percent in the red overall with American voters.

That means that there were respondents who gave Biden their overall approval, and yet disapproved (possibly strongly) of his handling of immigration and the economy.

What the President Could Do to Boost His Approval: Change His Immigration Policies. There is a lack of consensus about how much the president can do to improve the economy (at least in the short run), but Biden — as president and head of the executive branch — has nearly total control over immigration.

The fact that more illegal migrants were apprehended at the Southwest border in FY 2021 than in any prior fiscal year, and more last month than in any month ever? That’s on Biden and his immigration policies.

The fact that nearly 1.05 million migrants who came over that border have been released since inauguration day? That’s the White House’s policy choice.

The 50 aliens on the terrorist watchlist apprehended this fiscal year at the U.S.-Mexico line? Biden’s policies created the conditions for them to do so. The same is true of the more than 700,000 illegal migrants who successfully evaded Border Patrol agents and proceeded into the interior.

There are any number of things that the White House could do to boost the president’s standing when it comes to immigration, and he could start by reviewing the Center’s analyses.

Pending a Democratic wipeout in the midterm elections or court order to take a different tack, however, Biden seems happy eliminating deterrence as a border strategy, rejecting prosecutions of illegal entrants in favor of releasing them, and inviting the world’s asylum claims — regardless of their strength. I hope that red is the president’s favorite color, because he will be seeing a lot more of it in future polls.