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New poll shows challenges for Democrats ahead of 2022

Associated Press/Evan Vucci

President Biden and congressional Democrats are confronting bleak political realities as they prepare to close out the year and head into 2022, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll shared with The Hill. 

Biden’s approval sits at 45 percent, according to the poll, a slight bump since October when he scored 43 percent approval. Still, 51 percent of respondents said they disapprove of his job performance, putting him 6 points underwater in the final stretch of the year. 

The broader Democratic Party fares even worse, with 45 percent approving and 55 percent disapproving. By comparison, Republicans notched 49 percent approval and 51 percent disapproval, the poll found. 

At the same time, the number of voters who believe the U.S. economy is heading in the wrong direction ticked upward from 57 percent in October to 59 percent in November, while those who say it’s on the right track dipped from 34 percent to 32 percent. 

The poll, which was conducted from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, suggests that Democrats are still up against difficult headwinds in the 2022 midterm elections, even as they celebrate the passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure package and rev up work on a roughly $2 trillion spending proposal that lies at the center of Biden’s legislative agenda.

“The president’s ratings have stabilized under water but the Republicans are gaining ground against the Democrats and that spells problems in the midterms,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.  

Democrats were always expected to face an uphill battle in 2022, given that the party in power almost always loses ground in midterm elections. The party had hoped to buck that historical tendency, however, by enacting sweeping policy changes that they argue are ultimately popular with voters.

But the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll shows that most voters – 53 percent – are concerned that Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion spending proposal will worsen inflation, which has risen sharply over the past year. 

What’s more, there are doubts about Biden’s fitness to serve as president. Sixty-percent of voters surveyed said they believe the president is demonstrating that he is too old to serve in the White House, while 53 percent said they have doubts about Biden’s mental fitness to serve as president.

At the same time, 47 percent of voters said they see the Democratic Party as having moved too far to the left, while only 29 percent believe that the GOP has shifted too far to the right. Another 25 percent said that the Democrats haven’t gone far enough, while 32 percent said the same of Republicans.

Still, voters are still split on which party they plan to vote for in the 2022 midterm elections. Fifty-percent said that they are more likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress, while another 50 percent said they are more likely to choose a Republican, according to the poll.  

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey of 1,989 registered voters was conducted from Nov. 30-Dec. 2. 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.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Biden approval rating Joe Biden Mark Penn Polling

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