The trajectory of past presidents' approval ratings in midterm years
In the last four midterm cycles, the president's approval rating by June was at or slightly above where it ultimately landed in early November.
Driving the news: President Biden's average approval has hovered for months in the low 40s, but hit a new low of 39.7% on Monday — worse than former President Trump's was at this point in 2018, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Why it matters: Presidential job approval — particularly at this stage of an election — can serve as a proxy for understanding how the public feels about the party in power in Washington. Biden's window of opportunity for boosting his standing ahead of the midterms is quickly closing.
- There's no clear, concrete way to assess when voters make up their minds ahead of casting a ballot, but pollsters and political scientists say job approval is a useful snapshot of the country's mood.
The big picture: It becomes more difficult for late-breaking bombshell developments — like the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade or the Jan. 6 hearings — to have a real impact when there are voters who have made up their minds by the spring.
- The sitting president's party usually faces strong headwinds in their first midterm cycle.
- Approval trends suggest political perceptions can be baked in as early as February.
Between the lines: Primary contests don't get underway in earnest until May, and several states will continue to host their elections throughout the summer.