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Republicans Really, Really Dislike Biden. But It’s Not Just About

Republicans don’t like President Biden very much. Among Republicans, his approval rating sits somewhere between 10 and 20 percent in most recent surveys, and his disapproval rating hovers between 75 to 90 percent.

On the one hand, there’s nothing that unusual about members of the other party holding disproportionately negative attitudes about the president. Democrats similarly really disliked former President Trump. Biden’s topline approval rating also isn’t that bad — he’s currently at 53 percent approval and 41 percent disapproval, per FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker — thanks to positive opinions of the president among Democrats (overwhelmingly) and independents (albeit marginally).

Yet, there is something different about GOP opposition to Biden, something that has only emerged as a trend in recent years: Most Republicans don’t just disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president — they strongly disapprove of his job performance.

We looked at presidential approval polling data from the first six months of presidencies dating back to George W. Bush and found that, compared to Bush’s early tenure, fewer Americans from the opposing party are lukewarm in their disapproval of the president. Meanwhile, the share of respondents who say they strongly disapprove of the president has trended upward during Trump and Biden’s time in office. Consider that only around 3 in 10 Democrats strongly disapproved of Bush during the first six months of his presidency, but more than 6 in 10 Republicans have expressed strong disapproval of Biden over the first roughly five months of his time in office.

More people from the other party strongly disapprove

Average share of Americans from the party that’s out of office who “strongly” or “somewhat” approved or disapproved of the president’s performance during the first six months of his first term

Average of opposing party attitudes
President Strongly approve Somewhat approve Somewhat disapprove Strongly disapprove
George W. Bush 11% 23% 22% 31%
Barack Obama 8 19 18 47
Donald Trump 5 7 12 72
Joe Biden 7 12 14 62

Biden’s approval ratings based on polls released as of June 9, 2021.

To avoid overweighting any one pollster, approval ratings were calculated based on an average of polls from each pollster.

Source: Polls

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his abysmal overall approval rating, Trump had the most damning strong disapproval rating, on average, with 72 percent of Democrats saying they disapproved of his job as president. But Biden isn’t that much better off than Trump, as a similar share of the Republicans who disapprove of Biden do so strongly. 

Members from the other party were once more willing to give a new president some benefit of the doubt early on — or at least, their opposition was not quite so baked in, as the figures for both Bush and Barack Obama suggest. What’s more, there hasn’t…

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