Biden Favorability Leads Trump, Other Potential Candidates Tested
Two-thirds of Americans Say Businesses Should Not Have Right to Deny Service Based on Sexual Orientation as Supreme Court Decision Looms
The newest Grinnell College National Poll shows that President Joe Biden’s job approval numbers have risen slightly, but he remains underwater less than two years before the 2024 election.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans approve of the job Mr. Biden is doing as president (up from 36% in September of 2022), while 51% disapprove, according to the poll, which was conducted March 14–19, 2023, The Grinnell Poll is a partnership between Grinnell College and nationally renowned polling firm Selzer & Company.
Biden’s approval ratings have risen for his handling of the economy (35%, up from 31% in March 2022), immigration (31%, up from 27% in October 2021), and the war in Ukraine (43%, up from 37% in March 2022).
“Confidence in the economy has risen, and with it, so has approval of President Biden,” said Peter Hanson, director of the Grinnell College National Poll and associate professor of political science. “It’s the highest approval rating we’ve ever measured for the president, but still quite low by historic standards. He’s not operating from a position of strength heading into 2024.”
While President Biden’s approval ratings have climbed slightly, the percentage of Americans who view him favorably has dropped 5 percentage points, and his unfavorable numbers have risen 9 points from March 2021.
“The bad news for President Biden is that his favorability numbers have fallen over the past two years,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Company. “The good news is that he still has a higher favorability rating than anyone else tested.
“Not only are former President Trump’s overall numbers down from two years ago, but we also find that the former president’s positives are becoming less intensely positive, and his negatives are becoming more intensely negative,” said Selzer. “His very favorable rating is down five points, and his very unfavorable rating is up six points from 2021.”
Several political leaders were tested for the first time in the Grinnell College National Poll, and they were all underwater from a favorability standpoint:
- 38-41% favorable-to-unfavorable for Ron DeSantis (21% not sure)
- 29-40% for Kevin McCarthy (31% not sure)
- 25-28% for Nikki Haley (48% not sure)
Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, former President Trump has a narrow edge in favorability:
68% of Americans Oppose Allowing Businesses to Refuse Services to Homosexual Customers
The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the coming weeks on 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis – a case involving a Colorado website designer opposed to designing websites for same-sex marriage ceremonies based on religious opposition to homosexuality. Ahead of the ruling, more than two-thirds of Americans (68%) oppose allowing businesses to refuse service based on such a stance. Republicans (53%) are the only demographic with a majority favoring the position, while all other demographics solidly oppose (including 59% of evangelicals).
“Our findings are clear. By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose allowing business owners to discriminate against gay and lesbian people on religious grounds,” Hanson said. “The court already faces a public convinced that it makes decisions based on the politics of its justices rather than the Constitution and the law. Allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation will be seen by most Americans as a grave injustice that will further damage the court’s legitimacy in the eyes of the public.”
Sixty percent of Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case (which overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade). Majorities of every demographic oppose, except for Republicans (57% approve) and evangelicals (where a plurality of 47% approve).
Republican Confidence in Voting Integrity Falls, Overall Remains Steady
Voters’ confidence that votes would be counted as intended in the next general election remained roughly the same since the last poll. Sixty-three percent are very or somewhat confident that the votes in the 2024 election will be counted as intended, while 35% say they are not too or not at all confident – as compared to 64-31% in September 2022 regarding the 2022 election. However, this poll shows a 10-point decline in confidence among Republicans.
“The drop in Republican confidence in voting comes after the party’s unexpectedly poor performance in the 2022 midterm elections,” Hanson said. “It is a troubling signal that many Republicans continue to blame false accounts of election fraud for the party’s losses at the polls. Free and fair elections are the bedrock of American democracy, and it is deeply worrisome that they have been baselessly called into question.”
When asked whether they expected the strength of the U.S. economy to be better or worse in 12 months, 58% of Americans think it will be worse – the same percentage as 12 months ago. However, 36% of people think the economy will be stronger than it is today, a rise of 9 points from March 2022.
Other Findings from the Grinnell College National Poll:
- A majority of Americans (57%) say it is not appropriate for public school teachers to speak their minds about politics in the classroom.
- Majorities of respondents say librarians (57%), students (55%), and families of students (53%) should have a major role in making decisions about what materials are in public libraries. Only 17% believe elected officials at the state level should have a major role.
- Sixty-six percent of Americans believe it is very important or somewhat important that a teacher, if aware, informs a parent or guardian that a student has adopted a gender identity different than the one assigned to them at birth.
The Grinnell College National Poll surveyed 1,004 Americans ages 18 and over between March 14–19, 2023. Results for questions asked of the full sample have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
For more political and legislative insight from the Grinnell College National Poll, see related press release, "Majorities of Americans Approve of Citizens and Elected Officials Speaking Their Minds on Politics, but Not Public School Teachers."