Biden’s approval rating is at its all-time low — how does that compare with past presidents’?


Alina Snopkowski, Editor

President Joe Biden’s approval rating is the lowest it’s ever been. According to recent Gallup polls, Biden’s current job approval rating is 42 percent, down from 57 percent at the beginning of his presidency. Biden’s current approval rating is lower than every other president Gallup has asked about at this point in their presidency — besides former President Donald Trump, who had just a 37 percent approval rating at around the same time in his presidency. The most dramatic difference between Biden and a past president is between him and former President George W. Bush — 301 days into their presidencies, Bush’s approval rating was 85 percent, particularly because at this time in 2001 the country was only a couple months removed from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Of course, these things tend to fluctuate, and only two former presidents — Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy — enjoyed net positive approval ratings throughout their entire presidencies.

This chart is a comparison of the 14 most recent presidents and their job approval ratings from throughout their presidencies, using the numbers from Gallup’s site.

Alina Snopkowski

If Biden is counted, half of the fourteen most recent presidents have had average approval ratings over 50 percent (including him), while the other half have had averages below 50 percent. There is a large difference between the highest and lowest approval ratings throughout the presidencies of both Bushes and Harry S. Truman, but the difference between Trump’s highest and lowest approval ratings is only 15 percentage points — the same number between Biden’s, as of now.

Of course, Biden is a different case, considering he hasn’t even been in office for an entire year yet, but it is interesting to see the variations in approval ratings over time among other presidents. Truman, for example, had very high approval ratings after the end of World War II, but they had dropped dramatically by the end of his presidency. Lyndon B. Johnson’s approval was on a downward slope for most of his time in office, while from the end of his first year onward, former President Barack Obama trended mostly around or just under 50 percent.

Four of these former presidents also lost their reelection bids, and all had approval ratings right before the elections in the 30s or low 40s — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Obama and George W. Bush both had approval ratings just below 50 percent but still won their second terms, while Truman had an approval rating of just 39 percent right before the 1948 election, which he still managed to win. The 2024 election is still far ahead of us and there’s no certainty that Biden will (or won’t) seek another term, however, so it might be premature to talk about that now.

Alina Snopkowski

So, something that we can discuss now — when compared to past presidents, Biden’s job approval rating was low right after his inauguration, too. Gallup’s first poll after his election showed a 57 percent approval rating, which beats Trump again (44 percent) as well as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (51 percent each). The younger Bush’s initial approval ratings were tied with Biden’s, which means that the other nine presidents had higher first approval ratings after they took office (Truman, Johnson, and Ford weren’t elected, which might count for something).

What I find particularly interesting, however, is the percentage change between Biden’s post-inauguration approval and his approval now roughly 300 days in. The comparisons with former presidents aren’t perfect here, because the polls were taken at different points in their presidencies, but every president back to Truman (besides Johnson) has a rating from within about a month shy of 300 days in office. These numbers show that most presidents have a lower approval rating at these later times than just following their elections, but Biden still ranks among the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) here — his approval rating fell by 26 percent from his inauguration until now, which beats every former president besides Truman and Ford (both at 28 percent), who weren’t elected to their first terms anyway. The most dramatic increase is 54 percent for George W. Bush, again due to Sept. 11.

No poll is perfect, and there’s many other ways of gauging how a president is doing in office, but public opinion polls can be an interesting and valuable way of measuring what people think about the president’s job performance. Historical trends can show how our current president stacks up against those in the past and give us a metric to see how the public’s opinion on a particular president has changed over time.

Biden isn’t even a year into his presidency yet, so just about anything could happen in terms of what the American people think about him. Compared to past presidents, Biden’s approval rating is not the worst in just about any way you slice it, however, his falling ratings since January do show that he has lost some support since then.

The Votes Are In: Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill


Rachel Phillips, Staff

Header Image: Alex Brandon/AP

Despite the Democratic in-fighting and senate stalemates of recent months, Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill was finally passed on Friday, Nov. 6. While the plan does not include the passage of Biden’s ambitious economic plan, it does currently quell inter-party conflict and could bolster confidence in the Democratic platform, both of which were much-needed outcomes for the party following the election results of the previous week and in preparing for the upcoming election seasons. As for now, however, Biden’s administration can celebrate the 228-206 vote of this historic legislation, whose size and anticipated effect is comparable to Eisenhower’s interstate highway agenda in the 1950s.

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide increased funding for federal investments of national infrastructure, particularly by expanding America’s roads, bridges and public transport systems. In addition, this legislation will also increase the accessibility of drinkable water, by replacing lead pipes in both urban and rural areas with safer alternatives. Furthermore, the bill will also invest in broadband infrastructure, to mitigate the professional and education disadvantages certain demographics still face. By investing in high-speed internet, the Biden administration is hoping to lower the cost of internet service and close the digital divide that currently affects nearly 30 million Americans.

The administration was also careful to include environmental stipulations within each infrastructure program so as to continue to progress green initiatives nationwide. Moving forward, Biden’s team is hopeful that his economic bill, also known as the Build Back Better agenda, will experience similar bipartisan success. The next anticipated vote on the bill is scheduled for Nov. 15, and, if successful, could pass a variety of Democratic priorities and pillars of Biden’s campaign. 

Why stop at statehood for D.C.? All U.S. states to become their own countries


Alina Snopkowski, Professional Political Analyst

“So, what do you all think about this D.C. situation?” When Virginia Governor Ralph Northam posed the question at the weekly U.S. governors group Zoom meeting on Monday, March 29, he was just trying to spark some conversation so National Governors Association Chair and Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t put them into breakout rooms.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan shared his opinion right away. “Some people are saying Maryland might just absorb D.C., but, frankly, we don’t really want them.”

“Honestly, I wouldn’t mind,” Daniel McKee, governor of Rhode Island, said, “then Rhode Island wouldn’t be the smallest state.”

“D.C. as a state,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott scoffed, “that’s ridiculous. They just want to have their own senators. If they become a state, Texas will just leave and become its own country. Don’t mess with Texas.”

Silence fell over the zoom call as the governors pondered Abbott’s comments. Although they would only admit it later, many senators had considered proposing such a thing, but Abbott’s words made them realize that someone else had a similar idea.

After that instrumental Zoom meeting, the governors moved quickly and contacted their state governments. By Wednesday, March 31, all state governments had drafted some sort of proposal to officially become their own countries. Every state will vote on these proposals within the next two weeks, and it is expected that all will pass with overwhelming margins. Every state has something to gain from becoming its own country, and every governor has held a press conference in the past few days explaining why their state — soon to be country — will be in a better position in the future.

“We used to be our own country,” Vermont Governor Phil Scott explained, “we can go back to the good old days when we didn’t have to answer to the U.S. government.”

“When we become our own country,” Delaware Governor John Carney said, “Delaware will continue its proud tradition of having no sales taxes. We also have a great tourism sector with the Delaware Beaches, and we will now be able to generate extra revenue for the country by charging visitors from other countries special prices to visit these areas.”

“We’ll finally be moving the capital from Harrisburg to Philadelphia,” Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf said, “most people think the capital is Philadelphia anyway, and it has a cooler nickname — ‘the City of Brotherly Love’ — Harrisburg’s nickname is literally just ‘Pennsylvania’s Capital City,’ which it won’t be for long.”

“I think one of the most important symbols of a country is its flag,” Maryland’s Hogan explained, “and Maryland has the best state flag in the country, currently, so as our own country we’d have the best flag in the world.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Current governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf is excited to change the future country’s capital to Philadelphia.

There will be 50 new countries in the world after the U.S. splits apart, although not all the states will retain their current borders. Washington D.C. will become its own country, while the states of South and North Dakota will merge into one entity simply called “New Dakota” in a bid to increase the future country’s population to at least a million people. The border between Wisconsin and Michigan would be redrawn so the upper peninsula would belong to Wisconsin.

In regards to the proposed change in borders, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer remarked, “This plan makes perfect sense. Only 3% of Michigan’s population lives up there, so it’s not like we’re losing much. We also wouldn’t have to pay to maintain the Mackinac Bridge, and we can funnel that money into Detroit tourism instead. It’s a win-win.”

However, there are, of course, some expected problems when changing these states into countries.

“We have a slight issue because there’s already a country called Georgia,” Georgia (the state) Governor Brian Kemp said, “I didn’t know about it until last week, actually, when one of my staffers brought it to my attention. I think it’s in Asia or something. So we’d have to change our name. Or we could sue them for rights to the name. I think we have a pretty good shot at winning that.” In a similar vein, governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham remarked that “with New Mexico in the process of becoming its own country, we have already begun a conversation with President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador in regards to the name situation. We might be changing our name to North Mexico, and they would be South Mexico.”

These new countries will still be strongly connected. All former U.S. states intend to belong to a newly proposed union called the Union of Former American States (UFAS), not to be confused with the UFAS that is the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, which will no longer exist because the U.S. federal government will not exist. UFAS would help put regulations in place for trade, travel and work between the new countries.

With the recent news that President Biden is rolling aimlessly through the White House in a wheelchair, babbling incoherently, this move to separate the states could not come at a better time. Taking control of the U.S. away from Biden is both a necessary move and one that, given his current state, the president will likely not be able to oppose (or even notice).

Janet Yellen Confirmed as Next United States Treasury Secretary


Elizabeth McLaughlin, Staff

The Washington Post

Janet Yellen, pictured above, was recently confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan, 84-15 vote, making her the 78th Secretary of the US Treasury and first woman to hold the position.

She got her undergraduate degree in Economics from Brown University and then a PhD in the same field from Yale. From there, she taught economics as a professor at Harvard. After that, she researched international monetary policy as an economist with the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. She taught at London School of Economics and University of California, Berkeley. She was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to chair the Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton. Then, she became the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, as well as a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee. From there, she graduated to the vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and eventually the chair of the Federal Reserve — the first female to hold that position. As if that weren’t enough, she became a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institution. She holds nine honorary degrees ranging from a doctorate in science to a doctorate in philosophy. Her name is Janet Yellen, and her most recent accomplishment to be added to an already long list is being confirmed as the newest secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury.

Janet Yellen is the first female treasury secretary and the first person ever to lead the three most powerful economic bodies in the United States government: the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. She was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 25 in a bipartisan vote of  84-15. In her role as Fed chair, Yellen was well-liked by both Democrats and Republicans. Her ability to appeal to both sides of the aisle will likely bode well for the Biden administration, which begins amidst unprecedented partisan tension.

Yellen is a Keynesian economist and considered by many to be a dove, which is another way of saying she is generally more concerned with unemployment than with inflation. She received criticism for keeping interest rates too low for too long in her capacity as chair of the Federal Reserve. Some of her opponents admit that she can act more as a hawk by hiking interest rates if necessary.

As Yellen steps into her role as treasury secretary, she inherits a hefty to-do list: propose and pass another fiscal stimulus bill, advise President Biden on carbon tax policy, maintain the dollar as the world’s international reserve currency, provide insight on long-term economic recovery post-Covid-19…the list goes on. Some of these issues may appear more immediately pressing than others — Americans have been waiting months for much-needed and adequate stimulus. Regardless, Yellen will play a key role in bolstering a floundering economy.

On Jan. 20, Yellen appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Finance to persuade lawmakers to pass President Biden’s $1.9-trillion Covid-19 relief plan. The plan includes increasing the minimum wage and expanding family and medical leave — two policies that do not have strong Republican support. Yellen believes that “we have a long way to go before our economy recovers,” so Congress must “act big” to support millions of struggling American families.

Another item on Yellen’s agenda is climate action. For years, Yellen has opined that climate change poses a risk to global financial stability indicating that she will “act big” on climate action in her role as treasury secretary. Her support for a carbon tax goes all the way back to her time as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton. In addition, she co-founded a nonpartisan, international think tank called the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), which advocates for a carbon tax of around $40 a ton and increases 5 percent each year. In turn, this tax would filter back into American pockets in order to offset the costs of increased energy prices. Moreover, the CLC advocates for penalties on carbon-intensive products in the form of border-adjustable taxes on imports. The plan has drawn some criticism from progressive climate activists and groups and, perhaps deservingly so; ExxonMobil and Shell were quick to sign on as “founding corporate members” of the plan. Beyond that, Yellen plans on pushing for emissions reductions. She does not believe that a carbon tax alone is enough to address climate change and ensure global financial stability. In her capacity as treasury secretary, Yellen could establish a national green bank to encourage investment in sustainable infrastructure. She could also pressure international financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels.

Yellen’s bipartisan confirmation by the Senate represents a marked shift in the political and economic cultures we have grown accustomed to for the past four years. An exceptionally qualified expert with a robust resume has been appointed to a cabinet-level position with support from both parties. Her appointment is uncontroversial, expected, and comforting; three adjectives we could all use a little more of these days. The only thing lengthier than her impressive curriculum vitae? Her to-do list.