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Poll: President Biden losing support of independents amid concerns over economy, immigration

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:30 AM CDT
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GRINNELL, Iowa (KCRG) - The latest Grinnell-Selzer poll shows collapsing support among independents for President Joe Biden.

The poll showed just 37 percent of all respondents approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 50 percent disapprove.

The poll also asked respondents whether they would vote for Joe Biden, Donald Trump, or someone else if the 2024 general election were held today. Among likely voters, both Biden and Trump received 40 percent of the support, with 14 percent saying they’d vote for someone else.

Biden still polls stronger among Democrats, and Trump still polls stronger among Republicans. The interesting response came from Independents, who both candidates would need to win over.

This latest poll showed Biden’s support among likely independent voters has collapsed, with the majority indicating they’d support Trump over Biden.

“In 2020 exit polling, President Biden won independent voters by a 54 percent to 41 percent margin, J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Company said in a news release. “If the election were held today, our poll shows former President Trump winning that group 45 percent to 28 percent. It is a massive shift in a demographic that helped carry Biden to victory less than two years ago.”

Biden still has time to turn things around, but Grinnell College National Poll Director Peter Hanson said if it doesn’t happen soon, Democrats are likely to face a serious reckoning in the 2022 midterm elections.

Key issues leading to the declining support for Biden are his handling of immigration, where 58 percent disapprove (27 percent approve), and the economy, where 53 percent disapprove (36 percent approve).

In particular, the economy was a sore spot, with just 36 percent saying they believe the economy will be in a better position 12 months from now. That’s an 11 point drop from a previous poll in March.

Another interesting finding from the poll was in regard to the growing division within the country, based on disagreements on individual liberty.

The poll asked respondents about activities Americans feel they should be “absolutely free to do.” This section revealed sharply differing viewpoints.

According to the poll, a majority of Republicans feel they should be free to do the following:

  • Refuse vaccines (78 percent)
  • Punish their children in the way they think is best (67 percent)
  • Openly carry a gun whenever and wherever they want (58 percent)
  • Be exempt from rules and regulations that they find conflict with their religious beliefs (55 percent)

All of those issues had less than 40 percent support among Democrats.

A majority of Democrats feel they should be free to do the following:

  • Get an abortion during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy (82 percent)
  • Use marijuana recreationally, whether it’s legal or not (65 percent)
  • join a public protest that blocks city streets (61 percent)

These issues received less than 50 percent support among Republicans.

While Americans are divided on these issues, there are still issues both Republicans and Democrats agree on. Majorities among both parties agree on the importance of freedom of speech, the right to become as wealthy as possible, regulating smoking, prohibiting physically harming others, and supporting laws requiring seatbelt use.

Grinnell Associate Professor of Political Science Danielle Lussier said Americans care about their freedoms, but what different political parties see as liberty is quite different.

“Both sides appear to see freedom in narrow, partisan terms rather than through a lens of broadly shared individual rights,” Lussier said.

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