NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Ten months in, a plurality of Washingtonians still approve of Joe Biden’s job performance

As Pres­i­dent Joe Biden reach­es the ten month mark since his inau­gu­ra­tion, a new statewide poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute finds that a near major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers still approve of the job he’s doing, with slight­ly more than four in ten dis­ap­prov­ing and a small per­cent­age not sure.

49% of Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers sur­veyed from Novem­ber 10th-11th said they approved of Biden’s job per­for­mance, while 43% dis­ap­proved. 7% were not sure.

Plurality of Washingtonians approve of Joe Biden's job performance

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s Novem­ber 2021 Biden job per­for­mance poll finding

Although Biden has worked hard to bring the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic under con­trol, restore com­pe­tence and eth­i­cal norms to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and work with Con­gress to pass leg­is­la­tion to improve Amer­i­cans’ lives, he has faced almost unceas­ing attacks from Repub­li­cans as well as harsh cov­er­age from mass media out­lets, includ­ing not just right out­lets like Fox, but also news­pa­pers, tele­vi­sion net­works, and online media that claim to be objec­tive in their coverage.

Con­se­quent­ly, his approval rat­ings have been on a down­ward tra­jec­to­ry, espe­cial­ly since mid-August, when the Tal­iban marched into Kab­ul and the NATO and Amer­i­can-backed Afghan gov­ern­ment col­lapsed, neces­si­tat­ing a mas­sive air­lift of Afghani allies from Hamid Karzai Inter­na­tion­al Airport.

How­ev­er, Biden remains above water here in Wash­ing­ton. His approval rat­ings aren’t as good as they were back in the spring, but they look a lot bet­ter than his nation­al num­bers. (In May, 54% of vot­ers we sur­veyed said they approved of Biden’s job per­for­mance, while 41% dis­ap­proved and 5% were not sure.)

As I not­ed back in May, Biden’s pre­de­ces­sor Don­ald Trump was nev­er above water in Wash­ing­ton State at any time dur­ing his pres­i­den­cy. Giv­en the degree of polar­iza­tion in our coun­try, the days when pres­i­dents could get sky-high approval rat­ings seem to be behind us, at least for the fore­see­able future.

Let’s take a look at Pres­i­dent Biden’s approval rat­ings by region.

First, here are the statewide num­bers again:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s job performance?

ANSWERS:

  • Approve: 49%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 43%
  • Not sure: 7%

Now, here are the num­bers by region:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s job performance?

ANSWERS:

  • King Coun­ty
    • Approve: 65%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 30%
    • Not sure: 4%
  • North Puget Sound 
    • Approve: 37%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 41%
    • Not sure: 22%
  • South Sound
    • Approve: 55%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 42%
    • Not sure: 3%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Washington 
    • Approve: 39%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 54%
    • Not sure: 7%
  • East­ern and Cen­tral Washington 
    • Approve: 41%
    • Dis­ap­prove: 56%
    • Not sure: 3%

And here’s where sur­vey tak­ers are from:

  • King Coun­ty: 31%
  • North Puget Sound: 17%
  • South Sound: 13%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Wash­ing­ton: 18%
  • East­ern or Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton: 21%

Although Biden’s num­bers have slipped in King Coun­ty, North Puget Sound, and the Olympic Penin­su­la / South­west Wash­ing­ton regions since May, the Pres­i­dent is hold­ing steady in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, and his South Sound num­bers are a lot bet­ter than they were back in the spring.

In fact, the South Sound num­bers are almost invert­ed from last spring.

That might sound strange, but it’s actu­al­ly pret­ty com­mon for there to be swings or vari­ances between the South Sound sub­am­ples in our statewide polls.

Because the South Sound sub­sam­ple is the small­est of all of our geo­graph­ic sub­sam­ples, it is espe­cial­ly prone to weird­ness. It has the high­est mar­gin of error of any geo­graph­ic sub­sam­ple in the survey.

This poll as a whole has a rea­son­ably low mar­gin of error, at just +/- 3.3%, due to its large sam­ple size (over nine hun­dred respon­dents participated).

But the South Sound’s mar­gin of error is around +/- 9%, since only 13% of the sur­vey tak­ers are from that region. It would be a mis­take to draw any sweep­ing con­clu­sions based on these geo­graph­ic sub­sam­ple per­cent­ages, espe­cial­ly the South Sound’s. While it’s nice to have some sense of how the regions break down, we have to be mind­ful that we’re run­ning up against the lim­i­ta­tions of what a statewide poll can tell us about pub­lic sen­ti­ments in a par­tic­u­lar area.

Our sur­vey of 909 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Novem­ber 10th through Thurs­day, Novem­ber 11th, 2021.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI, and as men­tioned, it has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

As not­ed, nation­al­ly, Pres­i­dent Biden’s approval rat­ing is in rougher shape than it is in Wash­ing­ton State. Most of the recent nation­al polls have found Biden’s dis­ap­proval num­ber in the low fifties and approval in the low forties.

Tomor­row, we’ll have an update on the 2022 U.S. Sen­ate race in Washington.

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