When President Joe Biden was inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president, there was a familiar mantra from many analysts: As Covid goes, so goes the Biden presidency. Now, 17 months in, that thinking seems to have been somewhat misguided.
Polls show Americans are generally feeling quite a bit better about Covid and a return to normalcy, but not so good about the White House.
A June Ipsos poll found 42% of Americans said their own lives have “already returned to normal.” Considering where the country in the pandemic even six months ago, that’s a pretty positive number.
And it is a vast improvement — 14 percentage points — over where attitudes were in June of 2021, when vaccinations had started but their entire impact had not yet taken root. Last June only 28% of Americans said their lives had returned to normal.
But compare Joe Biden job approval numbers from Ipsos in the same data and you don’t see an improvement, but a decline.
In June of 2021, Biden was sitting in positive territory in the Ipsos poll, with a 52% job approval rating. Now, a year later, with what seem to be better Covid numbers, Biden’s job approval number is down to 39% — 13 percentage points lower.
What happened to Biden’s good numbers? As in every presidency, unexpected things happen and the Biden White House has had its share, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation and a shortage of baby formula.
But people’s attitudes about Covid may have changed as well. In that latest Ipsos poll there was a much higher number of people saying their lives had already returned to normal than last year, but there was also an undercurrent of concern that Covid is a longer-term problem.
In June of 2021, only 16% of those surveyed said a return to normalcy was more than a year away or that it was never going to happen. In this latest survey, 33% gave one of those answers.
In other words, some Americans seem to be feeling a lot better about the state of the Covid pandemic, but others seem to feel worse about the rise of the Covid endemic.