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Where Biden stands with people of faith

One year in, it’s not just religious conservatives who are unhappy with Biden’s job performance

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President Joe Biden speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

President Joe Biden is having a crisis of faith. More specifically, he’s hemorrhaging support from religious Americans, including members of reliably left-leaning faith groups.

The latest data from Pew Research Center shows that Biden’s approval rating has dropped at least 10 percentage points among Protestants and Catholics over the past 10 months.

In March 2021, 56% of Catholics and 44% of Protestants approved of the job he was doing as president. By January, those figures had fallen to 46% and 32%, respectively.

Pew’s analysis notes that religious conservatives are not solely or even primarily responsible for these shifts. Among Protestants, for example, the biggest drop in support came from Black church members, who typically have a strong allegiance to the Democratic Party.

“Roughly two-thirds of Black Protestants (65%) approve of the job that Biden is doing as president,” researchers wrote. “That is down sharply from 92% in March 2021.”

Pew also highlighted a sharp drop in support for Biden among the religiously unaffiliated, who, like Black Protestants, are generally thought of as loyal Democrats.

From March 2021 to early last month, Biden’s approval rating among the “nones” fell 18 percentage points, from 65% to 47%.

Biden’s poor performance among people of faith is part of a larger approval rating problem.

In late August, during the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the share of Americans who disapprove of Biden’s work surpassed the share who approve for the first time. Since then, the disapproving group has remained on top and the gap between the two trend lines has continued to grow, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Pew’s new analysis does not offer theories on what’s driving the widespread drops in support. Other research teams and political analysts have pointed to inflation, congressional gridlock and the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic to explain Biden’s struggles.

“A misstep on any one of these issues could take a toll on approval ratings, but together the cumulative effect has placed a weight on the president that is hard to lift and will continue to be hard to carry forward,” said Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, to the Deseret News in December.