NBC Poll: Taliban Takeover Sinks Biden’s Approval Below 50 Percent

President Joe Biden’s approval rating among U.S. adults has dipped below 50% of the first time in the latest NBC New poll, less than a week after the Taliban has overtaken Afghanistan.

Just 49% of adults approve of the job Biden is doing, while 48% disapprove, according to the poll.

Notably, there is stronger sentiment behind disapproval, as among the 48% disapproving are largely strongly in disapproval (41%) compared to those who “somewhat disapprove” (7%). The 49% who approval are more closely hedged between strongly (22%) and somewhat (27%).

In a CBS News poll also released Sunday, half of Americans, 50 percent, approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president. But the same number, 50 percent, disapprove of Biden. Biden’s approval rating slid 8 points in the CBS poll since July.

It is not just Afghanistan either, according to Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.

“The best way to understand this poll is to forget Afghanistan,” McInturff told NBC News.

Democrat pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates called it a “summer of discontent” for the embattled president and fledgling administration.

“The promise of April has led to the peril of August,” Horwitt told NBC News. “It is the domestic storm, COVID’s delta wave, that is causing more difficulties at this stage here at home and for President Biden.”

Despite the spin, the Afghanistan withdrawal is a large negative on Biden’s ratings. Just 25% approve of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan, while more than twice as many 60% disapprove.

Both pollsters failed to acknowledge in their comments roughly steady approval ratings on the coronavirus response, perhaps pointing to American’s similar disregard for the overall importance of Afghanistan at home.

Biden’s coronavirus response drew 53% approval. The economy draws the lowest approval among the three big issues polled, getting just 47% approval among adults and moving from a 9-point positive approval in April to a 2-point negative approval this August.

Other notable trends in the poll:

  • Only 29% say the country is heading in the right direction, down 7 points from the last poll.
  • 54% are mainly worried and pessimistic about the U.S. future.
  • Just 44% are mainly hopeful and optimistic.
  • Just 24% consider the economy excellent or good.
  • 42% say the worst of COVID-19 is to come, while just 37% say the worst is behind us.

That latter number is significantly more pessimistic than April, where 61% said the worst was behind us and just 19% said the worst was yet to come.

“We are still in a red and blue country — not a red, white and blue America,” Hart told NBC News, noting the political divide of the responses despite Biden’s inaugural address promising unity.

NBC News, with Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies, polled 1,000 adults and 790 registered voters Aug. 14-17. The margin of error among U.S. adults was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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