The end of America’s longest war one year ago was the start of an approval ratings crash for President Joe Biden that Democrats hope to reverse before November’s midterm election.
First negotiated during the Trump administration, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan culminated in chaos. Biden said the U.S. evacuated more than 120,000 people, but a suicide bomber killed at least 183 people at the airport in Kabul and several people were killed after trying to hold on to an evacuating U.S. aircraft before the Taliban retook power.
Though public opinion had turned against the war in Afghanistan, 60% of Americans disapproved of Biden’s handling of the exit, with just 30% approving, according to a September 2021 Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The U.S. withdrawal coincided with the rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus, which dampened public opinion about Biden’s handling of the pandemic. Voters soured on Biden’s handling of issues including the economy and foreign policy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and his approval didn’t recover.
Biden’s lowest point came last month, when his approval rating average hit 37%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s calculations. It’s since bounced back to 40%.
Biden’s rebound comes as gas prices fall and following the killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. His once-stalled legislative agenda has made it through Congress. Democrats are optimistic Biden’s recent wins signal a comeback, but he’s still a long way off from a positive approval rating.
Democrats hope a late August push by the administration to sell the public on Biden successes can help turn things around. Cabinet members are scheduled to make visits to 23 states by the end of the month to promote the Inflation Reduction Act and House and Senate Democrats will host town halls and roundtables, according to a White House memo obtained by Politico Playbook.
The committee to elect Senate Republicans said Monday that Biden’s handling of the withdrawal was an embarrassment and proof of why Republicans should take back the chamber.
“The withdrawal from Afghanistan will go down as one of the most embarrassing overseas actions taken by the United States,” committee spokesman T.W. Arrighi said in a statement. “The stunning gall of the administration to tout the withdrawal as a positive should serve as a reminder to voters as to why we must restore proper oversight in the Senate by returning control to Republicans.”