Majority of voters say country is on the wrong track: poll

A majority of voters say the country is on the wrong track, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill.

The poll shows that 54 percent of registered voters say the country is heading in the wrong direction, while 41 percent say it’s on the right track. Six percent said they don’t know or are unsure.

That’s a stark difference from June, when 53 percent of voters said the country was on the right track.

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The poll results come amid a slew of issues facing the nation.

The coronavirus, fueled by the delta variant, is still raging across the country, leading to increases in cases and deaths and fueling hospital staffing and bed crunches. Meanwhile, vaccination rates have failed to increase enough to stall the spike.

President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE has sought to ramp up the fight against the virus by mandating businesses with more than 100 employees implement requirements for testing or vaccination, though that move has led to complaints of overreach from Republicans.

Fifty-two percent of registered voters approve of how Biden is responding to the pandemic, though that number has fallen from 63 percent in July. 

The country is also reeling from the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. American citizens and Afghan allies remain in the country after the rapid takeover there by the Taliban caught the administration and military flat footed. A suicide bombing at the Kabul airport last month that killed 13 U.S. troops and injured scores of others led to broader criticism of the Biden administration.

The poll shows that 40 percent of registered voters “strongly disapprove” of the way the withdrawal last month was managed, and 19 percent “somewhat disapprove.” Only 17 percent “strongly approve,” and 24 percent “somewhat approve.”

On top of that, the economy’s recovery is moving forward slowly as the coronavirus prevents growth from intensifying. Fifty-three percent of registered voters said the economy is on the wrong track.

Democrats in the White House and Congress have sought to pass sweeping infrastructure and social spending bills to invest in various sectors and jump-start the economy, but opposition from Republicans and internal squabbling has thrust the process into uncertainty.

“Americans show growing concern about the virus, the economy, immigration, terrorism and crime. These crises were mounting before Afghanistan and now there is added worry about the leadership. It was a brief period Americans were feeling optimistic and that’s over,” said pollster Mark PennMark PennEx-Clinton strategist: Va. results show Democrats 'have gone too far to the left on key issues for educated suburban voters' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Did Democrats misread voters' 2020 call for change? Trump leads in hypothetical 2024 GOP primary: poll MORE

The polling comes at a crucial time as the 2022 midterm cycle kicks into high gear after Labor Day. Democrats are trying to defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,578 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 15 to 16. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll. 

The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.