Facing dueling crises of rising inflation and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden has seen a slight uptick in approval rating with some Utah voters, though the president remains deeply unpopular in the state.

According to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll, 34% of respondents say they approve of Biden’s performance, with 61% saying they disapprove and 5% saying they don’t know. Only 10% said they “strongly” approve of the president, while 49% said they “strongly” disapprove.

Biden’s current approval rating marks a small increase since his support plummeted in February to the lowest point of his presidency. His net approval rating — the difference between his approval and disapproval numbers — also improved, but he is still 27 points underwater.

Since February, Biden’s approval has rebounded the most among Democrats in the state — 89% of whom give him good marks for his performance, up from 74% in February. Half of self-identified moderate voters now approve of the president, and three-fourths of all “somewhat” and “very” liberal respondents agreed.

“Somewhat” liberal voters have swung 24 points in the president’s favor in the last two months.

Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, said the swing is likely the result of Biden’s historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making good on a key campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the nation’s highest court.

“I attribute a large percentage of that to the nomination and the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. It was one of those campaign promises that President Biden made, and it’s one he kept,” Perry said. “It was historic in terms of the nomination ... and I think there were a lot of Democrats in the state and across the country that were very supportive of that.”

Republicans, on the other hand, remain staunchly disapproving of Biden. Fewer than 1 in 5 Republicans approve of his performance and 68% say they “strongly” disapprove. Those numbers remain relatively stable when compared to the February poll results.

“Beyond a couple percentage points this entire year,” Perry said, Biden hasn’t seen any real increase in approval, and his support in Utah remains on par with where his numbers are nationally. He said Utahns have noticed the stress on their pocketbooks, and sees inflation as a major issue throughout the current election cycle.

“As long as the top concerns in the minds of Utahns are the war in Ukraine and inflation — how much money they’re paying at the pump — (Biden’s) numbers are going to stay relatively close to this number,” Perry said. “They are just some big issues in Washington, D.C., that Utahns are paying attention to.”

Perry said that the economy is a uniquely difficult problem for presidents to message around because financial concerns “transcend” political rhetoric voters might normally respond to.

“It’s just the reality for voters. They know exactly what’s happening at the pump. They know exactly what’s happening in the grocery store,” he said.

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Biden has received frequent criticism from conservatives who blame his policies for continued inflation. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, recently said the president needs to “ditch his woke advisers” and warned of a possible recession.

Republicans would also like to see Biden do more to help Ukraine, with 60% saying the U.S. is not doing enough. On Thursday, Biden announced $1.3 billion in additional military and economic assistance for Ukraine, including heavy artillery, ammunition and drones, according to The Associated Press.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregated polling average, nearly 43% of Americans approve of Biden, while 52% disapprove. That’s only slightly higher than former President Donald Trump’s approval and six points lower than former President Barack Obama’s approval at the same point in their presidencies.

Dan Jones & Associates conducted the survey for the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics, polling 804 registered Utah voters between April 5-12, 2022. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

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