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Polls: Post-SOTU and Mid-Ukraine Crisis, No Biden Bounce Among Independents?

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Many Democrats and media figures – often one and the same – were excited about a survey released by NPR/PBS/Marist this week showing a substantial post-State of the Union bounce in President Biden's job approval rating. The poll found a clear uptick in Biden's standing on the matter of Ukraine in particular (52/44), as well as overall (47/50): "President Biden’s overall job approval rating is up 8 points, 47% from 39%, last week. 50%, down from 55%, disapprove. 18% strongly approve of the job Biden is doing as president, and 38% strongly disapprove." Those aren't exactly glittering numbers, obviously, but they're an improvement over a dreadful stretch of data for Biden over a period of months. 

When your polling average has been floating around 40 percent for quite some time, a data set showing an upward swing, including a 47 percent rating, is a welcome sign. But is that survey an outlier? Ed Morrissey notes that even in the NPR/PBS/Marist survey, Biden surged thanks to Democrats, with independents not budging. Another poll that shows a bump for Biden is also driven by Democrats: 

Forty-five percent of registered voters surveyed in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll approve of the job Biden is doing, up 4 points over the past week. But a narrow majority, 51 percent, still disapproves of Biden’s job performance...In the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, Biden’s gains came mostly from Democratic voters, suggesting the Ukraine crisis and his nationally televised address united elements of the president’s base but made few inroads with other voters. His approval rating among Democrats rose 7 points over the past week but was essentially unchanged among Republicans and independents.

More Democrats in the sample could be a product of left-leaning independents feeling better about identifying as Democrats. It could also just show Democratic voters "coming home" to support their party's president during a moment of international turmoil. But if Republican and independent voters aren't shifting much at all, that's still a very worrisome sign for the president's party heading toward November. GOP turnout is expected to be extremely robust; conservatives are motivated to show up and cast ballots, running substantially ahead of their Democratic counterparts on the intensity/enthusiasm metrics. Independents, unmoved toward Biden, continue to drift in the red direction. That's a recipe for large Democratic losses. But Democrats "coming home," as mentioned above, would certainly be a way for the party to limit the damage. Meanwhile, the latest Quinnipiac poll – we covered one intriguing component of it separately – found this on Biden's approval: 

For his overall job approval, Americans give Biden a negative 38 – 51 percent job approval rating with 11 percent not offering an opinion. This compares to a negative 37 – 52 percent job approval rating a week ago... Biden’s score with independents is brutal — 30/51, with only 14% strongly approving.

His standing has "inched up," as the Q-poll write-up points out, but (38/51) is still terrible, and it's still considerably worse among indies. If Biden is still enjoying an upward trajectory over the summer and heading into the fall, expectations about the midterms may need to be recalibrated. But for now, it's looking like a modest positive shift, driven more or less exclusively by Democrats, in the middle of a geopolitical crisis (about which there is remarkable unity among the American people). I'll leave you with the Democrats' new talking point, blaming high energy prices on Vladimir Putin. This is partially true, as of the last few weeks, but the excuse attempts to elide the fact that energy prices (and prices generally) have been rising steadily and painfully for months. The thread below helps explain some of the policy reasons why, in spite of the administration's gaslighting: 


Click through for the receipts. 

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