A new Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) Poll shows President Joe Biden’s positivity numbers have fallen from 38 percent to just 25 percent among independents since August.

The survey also found that, broadly speaking, more Pennsylvania voters now rate President Joe Biden as doing a “poor job” than at any previous point in his presidency.

F&M’s Center for Opinion Research surveyed 490 registered Keystone-State voters from February 21 through 27 and found 51 percent of them rated Biden as inadequately handling his presidential duties. One year ago, only 36 percent rated Biden as performing poorly.

Meanwhile, a combined 30 percent of respondents think the president is doing an “excellent” or “good” job. That’s his lowest F&M approval rating yet, down from an apex of 44 percent last June.

Biden’s positivity numbers have fallen from 78 percent to 58 percent among Democrats over the last seven months as well.

Voters give Biden especially bad marks for controlling inflation, with 48 percent of them saying they give him an “F/failing” grade on that issue. Another 13 percent say he gets a “D/below average” grade on the subject, while a combined 19 percent approve of his performance on inflation.

Pennsylvanians currently seem to dislike the chief executive’s economic record all around, with 47 percent giving him either a D or an F on job creation. Only 32 percent give him an A or a B in that regard, despite the U.S. unemployment rate declining to 3.8 percent in February. 

To be sure, the economy has not fully recovered from the economic restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While America has seen significant job growth in recent months after COVID countermeasures ended, workers and job seekers remember a better time: only 3.5 percent of Americans suffered unemployment in February 2020, the month before the pandemic hit, and they didn’t have to deal with inflation then.

The poll showed 35 percent of those surveyed indicating they felt worse off financially than they did a year prior while 16 percent said they deemed themselves better off, the worst such result at any point in the last six years.

“There’s about a third of voters – including sizable chunks of Democrats and independents who just don’t feel good about their economic circumstances,” F&M polling director Berwood Yost told The Pennsylvania Daily Star. 

When the college’s pollsters asked respondents what issue they believe to be the most pressing problem facing Pennsylvania, 18 percent of them replied the “economy [and] finances,” just behind the 19 percent plurality who said “government [and] politicians.” Another nine percent said “taxes” topped their state-related concerns and another three percent said “unemployment [and] personal finance” did. 

Overall, Pennsylvanians don’t believe things are looking up for state residents or their government. When asked if the commonwealth’s general state is headed in the right or wrong direction, 32 percent replied “right” while 55 percent answered “wrong,” with nearly three-quarters saying they think issues in the U.S. are generally headed in the wrong direction. Four in 10 said they presently consider themselves “not too happy.”

Bad results for Biden and an unhappy general outlook largely came alongside inauspicious results for Democrats: While 37 percent of voters rated Governor Tom Wolf (D) as doing either an excellent or good job in office, 38 percent said he is doing poorly, his highest negative rating yet. Forty-two percent of respondents said they expect to vote for the GOP candidate in their upcoming congressional election, while 38 percent said they plan to vote for the Democrat and 20 percent said they are undecided.

These results come despite slight pluralities of respondents having said they are registered Democrats and voted for Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

“Our numbers put [Biden] and Democrats in a pretty dire circumstance,” Yost said. “Those economic-hardship numbers are probably as bad as they’ve been since [Barack] Obama’s first [2010] midterm” during which Republicans made sweeping gains in Congress, winning majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

What could make the situation even worse for the current president is that Obama’s approval rating in March 2010 was about 10 percentage points higher in Pennsylvania than Biden’s is now. 

Yost issued a caveat that Biden may see some improvement in approval numbers after having given his State of the Union address last week. What national polling data has been released from other institutions reflecting later responses suggests that that improvement seems modest: An Investor’s Business Daily poll shows an eight-percent net disapproval of the president among American voters and a Rasmussen Reports poll indicates a net disfavor of 10 percent.

F&M’s poll also asked those registered as either Republicans or Democrats who they would nominate for U.S. Senate if the primary were being held today. Former Bridgewater Chief Executive Officer David McCormick led the GOP pack with 13 percent, just ahead of former ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands who had 11 percent. For the Democrats, Lt. Governor John Fetterman led U.S. Representative  Conor Lamb (D-17) 28 percent to 15 percent.

Read the poll:

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].