Biden’s low approval ratings weigh on undecided voters

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The midterm election is coming down to the voters who don’t like President Joe Biden — but don’t hate him, either.

The president’s approval rating is holding steady in negative territory ahead of Election Day, according to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, with 43 percent approving and 55 percent disapproving. A deeper dive into the data shows that Biden approvers plan to vote in near-lockstep for Democrats this fall, while those who “strongly disapprove” of him are almost uniformly lined up with Republicans.

But the slice of 15 percent of voters who say they “somewhat disapprove” of Biden are stuck in the middle — and where they break with two weeks left could decide whether Democrats keep the Senate, as well as what happens to a host of other races up and down the ballot.

Of the voters who only somewhat disapprove of Biden, 44 percent of them plan to vote for Democrats for Congress this November. Thirty-five percent of them plan to vote for Republicans. And an additional 21 percent say they’re still undecided — a larger bloc of undecideds than there is in either group with firmer opinions of Biden’s job performance.

Congressional Democrats’ edge among those voters in this week’s poll drove slight Democratic improvement on the generic ballot: 47 percent of voters said they’ll support a Democratic candidate, while 42 percent said they’d support a Republican. That’s compared to 45 percent for Democrats and 44 percent for Republicans in the previous POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

The 5-point edge for Democrats stands apart from most public polling at the moment, with results ranging from a tight midterm race to small GOP leads. But what is consistent is that Biden’s approval rating has settled in the low 40s — and those voters with a negative opinion of him, if not a strident one, represent the margin of victory or defeat.

On the generic ballot, 92 percent of voters who “strongly approve” of Biden are voting for congressional Democrats, and those who “somewhat approve” of Biden are almost as strong in their backing of Democrats, at 82 percent support. Meanwhile, 85 percent of those who strongly disapprove of Biden say they’ll vote for the Republican candidate for Congress.

The voters who somewhat disapprove of Biden make up 15 percent of respondents in the poll, including equal shares of men and women. They include a healthy portion — 13 percent — of Democrats, as well as 20 percent of independents and 13 percent of Republicans.

There were only slight differences in education and income levels among these voters. But people under 34 years of age were more likely to fall into the “somewhat disapprove” category. So were voters who identified themselves as “Other” or Hispanic, with around one-quarter of each group saying they somewhat disapprove of Biden.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted Oct. 21-23, surveying 2,005 registered voters with plus-or-minus 2 percentage points margin of error.

The poll also found that a majority of voters think former President Donald Trump should have to comply with a subpoena to testify and share documents with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The subpoena was officially issued last week.

Sixty-six percent of voters said Trump should have to testify, of which 48 percent said “yes, definitely.” And 68 percent said he should have to share documents with the committee.

Support for complying with the congressional subpoena was bipartisan but had significantly more support from Democrats, 90 percent of whom said they think Trump should testify in front of the committee. A majority of independent voters, 63 percent, and 42 percent of GOP voters also agreed.

In more bad news for Democrats, 68 percent of poll respondents said they believe the U.S. economy is currently in a recession compared with 19 percent who said they don’t think so. The percentages were the same as last week’s POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

A plurality of voters said they are prioritizing economic issues when it comes to deciding who they vote for, with 46 percent saying it’s their top issue.

Voters give Biden lower marks than Trump on immigration. Forty-nine percent of respondents said that the U.S. immigration system has gotten worse under Biden, including 16 percent of Democrats. Just 19 percent of voters said the immigration system was getting better.

The poll found that 43 percent of voters thought the immigration system got better under Trump, of which 80 percent were Republicans, 14 percent were Democrats and 36 percent were independents. Thirty-one percent said things were worse under Trump, including a majority of Democrats and only 8 percent of GOP voters.

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