White House criticizes bleak “outlier” Quinnipiac Biden poll
White House deputy chief of staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is publicly attacking a new poll that gave President Biden a 33% approval rating, using the full weight of her office to call it an “outlier,” according to a memo shared with Axios.
Why it matters: By releasing a memo questioning the Quinnipiac University poll’s methodology, the White House is demonstrating how seriously it takes negative perceptions of the president’s job performance at the outset of a critical midterm year.
- It's also acknowledging the president’s approval rating is well underwater — just not as deep as Quinnipiac found.
- “The FiveThirtyEight average of all public polls finds the president’s approval is at 43% approval,” O’Malley Dillon writes. “Quinnipiac, on the other hand, is at 33% approval. This is drastically different from all other recent polls."
- The poll, released Wednesday, showed 53% of Americans disapproved of the job Biden is doing, with 13% telling the pollster they didn’t have an opinion.
- "We stand by our numbers," said Doug Schwartz, associate vice president and director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
The big picture: Since the summer, Biden has been battered by events and his own miscalculations.
- His signature Build Back Better agendas stalled in Congress, and his push for voting rights was undercut by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) right before he arrived in the Senate on Thursday to lobby for it with his fellow Democrats.
- His administration was first caught flat-footed by the Delta variant of COVID-19 and now appears a step behind the Omicron variant as it surges across the country.
- Also Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected his plan to force large companies to impose vaccine mandates on their employees.
- His poll numbers turned sharply negative after America's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which 13 service members were killed by a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul.
What they're saying: “What you see in most of these polls is a real frustration and exhaustion with COVID and the fact that it’s not over,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
- “We share that. We understand that. People are fatigued across the country.”
Flashback: Throughout the campaign and as president, Biden has been dismissive of polling.
- “Polls are going to up and down and up and down,” he said at the G-20 summit in Rome last October. “They were high early, then they got medium, then they went back up and now they’re low."
Go deeper: In her critique, O’Malley Dillon targets the poll’s use of so-called “random digit dialing." She says the practice has been abandoned by many major polling organizations.
- She also suggests Quinnipiac is allowing too many respondents to give a “don’t know” answer when asked about the job the president is doing, and therefore undercounts some soft support for the president.
- “In this most recent poll, their 'don’t know' share was 11%, while the 538 average was 6%.”
Go deeper: Read the memo.