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Afghanistan, Virus Take Toll on Biden's Ratings

For the first time, president's approval numbers fall below 50%
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2021 6:07 AM CDT
Biden's Ratings Dip Below 50% for First Time
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk between tombstones as they arrive at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., to attend a Mass, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to be having an effect on President Biden's popularity. His overall approval rating in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, taken early last week, fell to 44% from 50% from June, while his disapproval rating hit 51%. At the same time, concern about the disease has been on the rise, the Washington Post reports. There was an 18-point climb from June in the share of Americans who consider their risk of becoming infected to be moderate or high, to 47%. The part of the population with at least one shot of vaccine who are worried about contracting the illness rose from 32% to 52%, and among the unvaccinated, the climb reported was 22% to 35%.

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Then there's Afghanistan. Support for pulling out US forces was overwhelming—77%, per ABC. But 60% of Americans didn't like the way Biden managed the withdrawal, the poll shows. About half of respondents wanted the withdrawal but didn't like Biden's handling of it. And just 8% say the withdrawal made the US safer from terrorist attacks; 44% think the withdrawal left the nation less safe. In the end, only 36% of Americans say the 20-year war was worth waging. It's the first time Biden's approval rating has been below 50%, and the Afghanistan situation appears to be the main driver, per a Post analysis.

Afghanistan is the major issue on which Biden polls worst. It could well fade in urgency among voters before long, per the Post, but the risk to the president is that it combines with other issues to undermine his promise of a competent administration. Political differences fade when it comes to helping individual Afghans, the poll found. Accepting screened refugees into the US has the support of 79% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 56% of Republicans. The telephone poll surveyed 1,006 adults, with three-fourths reached by cellphone and the rest by landline. Its overall findings carry a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. (Read more President Biden stories.)

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