President Joe Biden’s job approval hit its highest point in months in the days immediately following the announcement that his administration is fulfilling a campaign promise to cancel student debt, new polling shows.
CBS/YouGov polling released on Sunday shows that Biden’s job rating among registered voters is now at 45 percent, up from 42 percent in July. Overall, 20 percent of respondents said they “strongly approve” of Biden’s performance, while 25 percent said they “somewhat approve.” The poll was taken between August 24 and 26. Biden announced the plan midday on the 24th, meaning that some respondents may have answered the survey before the announcement.
This is the highest the president’s approval has been since February, according to CBS/Yougov. Most of the gain came from Democrats, with the amount of Democrats who say they strongly approve of Biden’s job performance increasing by eight points since July. He’s also seen gains among young people, among whom his approval is now in the positives.
The upswing comes as Biden’s approval has dipped over the past year, hitting low points this summer. Biden’s approval has typically followed the public’s view of the economy. While other recent polls taken before the announcement also indicate that Biden’s job approval could be bouncing back, the student debt plan may have given him a bump in the CBS/YouGov poll.
Poll after poll shows that a majority of voters support some form of student debt cancellation, and 54 percent of respondents said they approved of Biden’s plan in the recent poll. Meanwhile, debt and political experts argue that delivering thousands of dollars of semi-direct relief to tens of millions of Americans — especially at a time of major greed-driven inflation — is simply good and effective policy.
“Wow, it’s as if enacting popular public policy that helps everyday people is actually good politics,” wrote Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) in response to Sunday’s poll.
“Formula for success: pass really popular things while your political opponents are trying to take people’s rights away,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).
Meanwhile, debt relief advocates say that Biden’s approval rating would be even higher if he took the debt relief plan further. The plan cancels $10,000 of student debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year, with up to an additional $10,000 of cancellation for Pell Grant recipients; although it has been lauded by progressive lawmakers and debt activists, it still falls far short of what many advocates have called for.
If Biden’s approval did get a bump from the student debt plan, it bolsters arguments that Democrats should implement popular policies supported by the left, like raising the minimum wage, passing Medicare for All, and reforming the tax system to benefit the working class rather than the rich.
The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) may also be helping Biden in the polls. The bill — the result of major compromises on climate action and other reforms between Democrats and the conservative wing of their party — polls well among voters, with CBS/YouGov finding that 55 percent of voters approved of the bill.
Biden’s approval is still far lower than it was at the beginning of his presidency, however. According to an aggregate of polls gathered by FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s approval rating has been in the negatives for a year now after he enjoyed above 50 percent approval for roughly his first seven months in office.
Still, recent polls and election predictions show that the midterm elections this fall could be far better for Biden and Democrats than pundits have predicted. Recent projections indicate that Republicans are poised to win smaller margins in the House than previously suggested, while FiveThirtyEight is now reporting that the likelihood that Democrats will maintain their control of the Senate is increasing.
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