Black Americans continue to be among President Biden’s strongest supporters, with two-thirds approving of his job performance. But as with the public overall, the president’s approval ratings among Black Americans fell over the course of 2021 and have not returned to the heights seen at the start of his term.
It’s inflation weighing on his ratings now: most Black Americans disapprove of Mr. Biden’s handling of inflation, specifically — as do Americans overall. Nor do most think he’s focused enough on inflation.
This is even as they give him net positive marks for other issues, for handling the pandemic, and for the economy more generally.
Black Americans who disapprove of his overall job performance overall also disapprove of his handling of inflation, in particular, among other issues.
Black Americans still give Mr. Biden very positive marks for handling coronavirus, even though that measure dipped over the last year too. And it’s an important measure because they feel Black communities have been hard-hit by the virus, citing “a lot” of impact.
For context: compared to other recent Democratic presidents one year into their terms, Mr. Biden’s approval rating from Black Americans today is a little lower than it was for Bill Clinton in 1994 (72%) and quite a bit lower than for Barack Obama in 2010 (87%.)
The president has also lost ground on his ratings of empathy. Among Americans overall — including Democrats, both White and Black — the percentage who describe Mr. Biden as caring about people like them is down over the year.
The percentage of Black Americans who feel the president cares about people like them “a lot” is only about half of what it was a year ago.
We also see some unmet expectations, compared to a year ago. Ahead of his inauguration, two-thirds of Black Americans thought Mr. Biden’s policies would do more to favor the interests of Black people — as well as other groups — but today, Black Americans are more apt to feel his policies have had no impact on their interests in particular. And those who say they haven’t seen a positive impact are far more likely to give him negative ratings on handling the economy and inflation, as well as overall.
More White Democrats feel Mr. Biden’s policies have favored Black people than Black Democrats do. Black Democrats, meanwhile, are more likely than White Democrats to feel Biden hasn’t focused enough on issues of discrimination.
Differences by age
Younger Black Americans are not as positive in their assessments of Mr. Biden as older Black Americans are. Black people under age 45 give him lower approval ratings overall and on key issues compared to those who are older. Younger Black Americans are less likely to think Mr. Biden’s policies are doing more to favor Black people or that he cares about people like them.
Black voters are a core part of the Democratic Party’s coalition, but younger Black Americans are not as likely to identify with the party as their older counterparts. And like younger Americans more generally, younger Black people are less likely than those who are older to be registered to vote and to have voted in the 2020 presidential election.
We also see differences within Black Americans by education and income. Black Americans with lower incomes and those without college degrees have generally less positive views of Mr. Biden’s job performance compared to those with higher incomes and those with college degrees.
Supreme Court nominee
Mr. Biden has said that he plans to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. This is being received quite well among members of his own party, including both White and Black Democrats, most of whom are enthusiastic about the prospect. Most Americans overall are either enthusiastic or at least satisfied about this.
Democrats, including majorities of Black Democrats and White Democrats, think it’s important that the Supreme Court should reflect the diverse gender, ethnic, and racial make-up of the country as a whole. This is less important to Republicans, but about half say it’s at least somewhat important.
And those who say it’s important that the diversity of the Supreme Court represent America are particularly likely to be enthusiastic about Mr. Biden’s plans to put a Black woman on the bench.
Black voters were pivotal to Mr. Biden’s victory in the presidential election. The strong support of Black voters in South Carolina, for example, was instrumental in delivering Mr. Biden his first primary win, that represented a turning point in the campaign that helped propel him to the nomination. He won 87% of the Black vote in the general election.
Overall, Mr. Biden’s job approval is at 43%. His handling of inflation, in particular, has dipped this week and ratings of the overall economy, widely seen as bad, fell again after they had rebounded a little bit in the weeks prior. Those dips are, in turn linked to his overall approval edging down to its low to-date. Mr. Biden does retain majority support from Black Americans, as noted, and also from Democrats, but remains underwater with independents. His ratings began falling last summer with events in Afghanistan, and the case rise from the Delta variant, and then were weighed down further by inflation and haven’t rebounded.
Kabir Khanna and Fred Backus contributed to this report.
This story is part of a series from the CBS News poll looking at Black Americans’ views on a range of important issues as part of Black History Month.
This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,494 U.S. adult residents interviewed between February 15-18, 2022. Respondents were selected to be representative of adults nationwide with an oversample of African-American respondents included, and the final sample as reported was weighted to be representative of adults nationwide according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as to 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error for the total sample is ±2.3 points. The margin of error for the sample of African Americans is ±5.0 points.
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