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Six months of big change hasn’t changed the political environment

This is largely in-line with the average of all polls, which finds Biden has an approval rating of 53%.
What’s the point: The Biden presidency entered its fifth month this past week. A lot has happened since Biden took office: We’ve seen a failed impeachment trial, a major economic and coronavirus relief package signed into law and the continuation of a mass vaccination campaign leading to more than 60% of adults with at least one a Covid-19 shot nationwide.

All of this has happened — and the national political environment has remained stagnant. It’s almost as if no event seems to really change public opinion.

Biden’s approval rating today is pretty much the same as it was a month ago (54%). It’s the exact same as it was at the beginning of his presidency (53%). Any movements can be ascribed to statistical noise.
When Biden first entered the White House, many noted he did not get much of a traditional honeymoon bounce. Now, into his fifth month, he’s not seeing the traditional drop that many presidents have, either.

As I noted last month, Biden’s approval rating is the most consistent through the early part of his presidency of any president since World War II. That’s even more the case now than it was in April.

To put this in some recent perspective, look at what was happening during then-President Donald Trump’s first four months in office. Recall that was the presidency in which supposedly nothing mattered.

Trump’s approval rating had moved significantly by this point. He started off with an approval rating of around 45% and was in the 30s by this point.

But it’s not just that Biden’s approval rating is static. Other measures of the political environment are basically where they were last November as well.

The generic congressional ballot shows Democrats with about a 3- to 4- point lead. That advantage has been steady over the last few months.
And remember, Biden won by a little over 4 points in 2020. Democrats won the national House vote by around 3 points.
Compare that to where we were during the Trump administration at this point. Democrats, after losing the national House vote by a point in 2016 and winning the national popular vote in the presidential race by 2 points, were ahead by 7 points on the generic ballot.

Actual special election results are showing the political environment has barely changed since 2020, as well.

The Republican margin in state legislative and congressional special elections is, on average, about 2.5 points better for the GOP than the 2020 presidential result in those districts, when at least one Democrat and one Republican are running.

When only one Democrat and one Republican is running without a significant independent candidate, the Republican margin is on average only about 0.5 points better for the GOP than the 2020 presidential baseline.

These are statistically insignificant differences given that special elections are also about the individual candidates running in them and that they’re not necessarily a perfect random sample across the country.

Again, look back at the Trump administration and the special elections with one Democratic and one Republican without a significant independent candidate. The Democratic margin in them was 10 points higher on average through this time in 2017 than Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin in those same districts.

There had been a clear shift in the national environment toward Democrats that was consistent with other measures. Some things clearly mattered during the early days of the Trump administration.

So far, during the still early days of the Biden White House, nothing seems to have significantly moved public opinion.

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