WSJ Poll: Biden, Democrats lose ground on key issues
As US voters worry about inflation, Biden’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine crisis hasn't prompted his overall approval rating.
A new Wall Street Journal poll finds that US President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats have lost ground to Republicans on several of the most important issues to voters, a troubling sign for the party seeking to extend its controlling majority in Congress for another two years.
According to the new poll, 57 percent of voters are still dissatisfied with Biden's job performance, despite favorable ratings for the president's response to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine and a recent State of the Union speech in which he had the opportunity to directly address millions of US citizens.
Only 42% approved of Biden's performance in office, a figure that was virtually unchanged from the previous Journal poll in mid-November.
Meanwhile, Democratic advantages over Republicans have shrunk in areas such as education reform and the Covid-19 response. A 16-point Democratic lead on which party would best handle the pandemic had shrunk to 11 points, while a 9-point lead on education issues had shrunk to 5 points.
When asked which party was best able to protect middle-class families, Democrats' 5-point advantage - prevalent four months ago - vanished, leaving the parties essentially tied on the issue.
Voters also gave Democrats low marks for handling inflation and the economy, which were cited as the top issues they want the federal government to address by 50 percent of those polled. The Ukraine crisis was ranked second, with 25% of voters saying it was the most important.
A majority of voters, 63 percent, said they disapproved of Biden's handling of rising costs, giving the president the lowest rating on six policy issues polled. Meanwhile, 47 percent of voters said Republicans were better able to deal with inflation than Democrats, while 30 percent preferred Democrats.
It seems that Republicans had a better plan to improve the economy: 45 percent compared to 37 percent for their rival party, despite the fact that the Republican leaders in each chamber, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, have advanced few specific economic-policy proposals they would pursue if they controlled Congress.
Since the last Journal poll, US citizens have faced a surge in Covid-19 cases from the highly contagious Omicron variant, supply chain bottlenecks that left store shelves empty in January, and increases in gasoline and other consumer prices that have driven inflation to a 40-year high.
Nonetheless, the challenges for Democrats haven't changed how voters said they plan to vote this year: 46 percent said they would support a Republican candidate for Congress if the election were held today, compared to 41 percent who favored a Democrat, with Republicans gaining support among Black and Hispanic voters since the last Journal poll.
This 5-point GOP lead compares to a 3-point GOP lead in November. Democrats currently hold a slim House majority and a 50-50 Senate majority.
Meanwhile, the poll indicated that voters were undecided about how Washington handled the crisis in Eastern Europe. Despite Biden's high marks on the conflict, voters said Republicans were better equipped to handle the crisis than Democrats, 38 percent to 31 percent.
On the issue of the United States' meddling in Ukraine, a partisan divide has emerged. Overall, 35% of voters thought the United States was doing enough, while 46% thought the country should be doing more. However, 54 percent of Democrats said the United States was doing enough, while 61 percent of Republicans said the country wasn't doing enough.
However, a bipartisan agreement was reached on the main areas of meddling in Ukraine. A majority of voters, 55%, said they would like to see more military aid sent to Ukraine. The same percentage said they would like to see more economic sanctions imposed on Russia. These margins held true among Democratic and Republican voters alike.
Despite the focus on Eastern Europe, 73 percent of voters said China was the nation's most serious economic threat, and 52 percent said it was the most serious security threat.
Republicans are also making inroads among minority groups, according to the survey.
In the new poll, Hispanic voters preferred a Republican candidate for Congress over a Democrat by 9 percentage points. In the Journal's November poll, the two parties were tied among Hispanic voters.
Democratic margins have also shrunk among Black voters, who now prefer a Democrat for Congress by 35 percentage points, down from 56 points in November. Support for a Republican candidate increased to 27% among Black voters, up from 12% in November.