Joe Biden’s recent job approval ratings, which are averaging 14 points lower than those early in his presidency, have declined far more among younger than older generations of Americans. In fact, Biden’s job approval has changed relatively little among baby boomers and not at all among traditionalists. As a result, older Americans are now more likely to approve of the president than younger Americans are.
This analysis is based on aggregated Gallup poll data since Biden became president, dividing his presidency into three distinct periods defined by his average approval rating at the time.
- During the honeymoon phase of Biden’s presidency, spanning January 2021 through June of that year, an average of 56% of Americans approved of how he was handling his job as president.
- The first obvious decline in Biden’s approval occurred in July and August 2021, when 49% of Americans, on average, approved.
- By September, Biden’s approval rating had fallen further to the low 40% range; it has stayed there since, averaging 42%.
Gallup interviewed roughly 6,000 adults in the first and third of these periods, and over 2,000 in the middle period.
During Biden’s honeymoon period, 60% of both Generation Z adults and millennials approved of the job he was doing, putting these groups above the national average approval rating. His support was below the national average among baby boomers (53%) and, especially, traditionalists (48%) early in his presidency.
By the summer, as coronavirus cases unexpectedly rose, Biden had lost significant support among Generation Z, millennials and Generation X, ranging from seven- to 10-percentage-point drops. But his approval rating held steady among baby boomers and traditionalists.
All generational groups have become less approving of Biden since the summer, after the troubled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August 2021, with the exception of traditionalists, whose approval has not changed.
Traditionalists are the only major demographic subgroup whose approval is similar now to what it was in the early part of Biden’s presidency. A small number of other subgroups — including some that have never been inclined to approve of Biden — have modestly lower approval now, with declines of less than 10 percentage points. These include Republicans (down four points, from 10% to 6%), adults aged 65 and older (down five points), baby boomers (down seven points), political conservatives (down eight points) and 50- to 64-year-old adults (down nine points). The full data on changes in approval by all major subgroups can be found at the end of the article.
Political Independence a Factor in Differential Change by Generation
One reason older Americans are less likely to have changed their opinions of Biden during his time in office is that they are much more likely to identify politically as a Republican or a Democrat than as an independent. Approval ratings are more strongly linked to partisanship now than in the past. To date, approval of Biden among independents has declined more than it has among Democrats or Republicans.
Only about one in four traditionalists (27%) and one in three baby boomers (34%) identify as political independents. This compares with roughly half of Americans among Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z. These figures are based on polls conducted throughout Biden’s presidency; party identification within each generation has been relatively stable during that time.
However, a greater share of political independents cannot by itself explain why older Americans show less change in their evaluations of Biden than younger generations do. Traditionalists and baby boomers who identify politically as Democrats or as independents show less change in approval than their political counterparts in the younger generations. For example, approval of Biden among millennials who identify as independents is down 24 points (from 59% to 35%) compared with a 14-point drop among baby boomers who identify as independents (from 54% to 40%). Millennial Democrats’ approval has dropped 15 points (from 93% to 78%), compared with a five-point drop among baby boomer Democrats (from 96% to 91%).
Republicans’ opinions of Biden have been highly fixed, and highly negative, regardless of their age or generation.
Hispanic, Black Adults Among the Subgroups Most Likely to Show Declines
In addition to the 21-point decline in Biden job approval among Generation Z adults, and the slightly larger 23-point drop among 18- to 29-year-old adults, Black and Hispanic adults also show big drops.
Early in Biden’s term, 87% of Non-Hispanic Black adults approved of the job he was doing. That fell to 74% in the summer of 2021 and is now at 67%, 20 points lower than in the early stages of his presidency.
Among Hispanics, Biden’s job approval has slumped from 73% in early 2021 to 52% now, a 21-point fall.
To a significant degree, the bigger declines among Black and Hispanic adults have occurred because those subgroups started out at much higher levels of approval than other subgroups. Among Non-Hispanic White adults, Biden’s approval rating has fallen 10 points but started out much lower, at 45%.
Even though Biden’s approval rating has dropped sharply among Black and Hispanic adults, their approval of him is still well above the national average.