After a year in power and several months before the midterm elections, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating among Hispanics shows a marked deterioration, according to a new survey by Univision News and NORC at the University of Chicago, conducted in the first two weeks of February.
Six out of 10 of those consulted have a positive perception of the president’s job performance – a drop of 21 points in almost a year. In March 2021, eight out of 10 Hispanics considered that Biden was doing a good job, according to the survey conducted on that date by Univision.
As of February 2022, this new poll shows disapproval of the president's performance increased by 19 percentage points.
The poll indicates that the decline in confidence in the Biden administration occurred mainly among those who strongly supported him at the beginning of his term. That group has reduced by just over half.
The national opinion poll conducted by Univision News and NORC includes 1,517 Hispanics over the age of 18 who are registered to vote. The survey took place before Russia invaded Ukraine and Biden nominated African-American Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Biden's fall is significant when compared to fellow Democrat Barack Obama, who at the end of the first of his eight years in power had an approval rating of 73% among Hispanics, according to a survey conducted by Latino Decisions published in March 2010.
The approval of the Democratic president has also been declining among the general population. Biden began his administration with the support of almost 54%, but has dropped to 41% among all voters after just over 13 months on the job, according to an average of polls compiled by Univision News.
Although Biden enjoys more confidence among Americans than former President Donald Trump in the same period, his support is below that registered by Obama and Republican George W. Bush in their first 13 months. Notably, Trump reported the lowest approval rating at the start of his administration among the four presidents.
Biden's popularity and his re-election
That decline in Biden's job approval is also reflected in a weakening of his image. In the survey, less than six out of ten Hispanics said they have a favorable opinion of the president. In March 2021, that figure was at seven out of ten voters.
After a year in the White House, about one in four Latino voters said they would not vote for Biden again or are unsure if they would support him at the polls.
The poll does not necessarily reflect a partisan shift among the Latino community, as 20% of those who voted for Trump also expressed similar reservations.
Hispanics are still betting on supporting Democratic candidates at the polls. If the elections were held today, 50% of Latinos said they would vote for a Democratic candidate, compared to 28% who would vote for a Republican. A fifth of those interviewed said they were not sure who they would vote for.
The economy, a priority for Hispanics
The survey shows that half of Hispanics see jobs and the economy as the main problems they expect politicians to address, but they have the perception that Biden is not solving this problem.
Six out of ten believe that government policies have made the cost-of-living rise. 44% said they have had a negative effect on the economy.
Despite the fact that more than half of the participants in the poll approved of Biden's work with respect to the economy, the majority of that group did so partially and 27% strongly disapproved of his actions in this field.
Last month, data from the Department of Labor revealed that prices in the United States are rising at the fastest rate in forty years, creating a greater financial burden when it comes to meeting everyday expenses such as gasoline, meals, buying clothes, or paying the rent.
Management of the coronavirus pandemic
For Hispanics, the pandemic is the second most important problem that must be addressed by politicians. This was pointed out by almost half of the participants in the survey.
The management of the health crisis is the area in which the Biden administration has had the most favorable impact, according to those consulted. 42% consider that the situation has improved with the Democratic government.
Some 71% of those consulted are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their health and that of their family, and 29% fear its effect on personal finances.
In this context, nearly two-fifths of Hispanics consider the personal cost of health care to be a problem.
Immigration, a pending issue
When asked about which policies have not had any impact in this first year, the handling of illegal immigration headed the list according to 39% of those interviewed.
A majority of 62% of those surveyed favor seeking a mechanism that legalizes the situation of the undocumented while offering them a way to obtain citizenship, another 21% prefer a system of work visas that does not include naturalization.
Only 15% of respondents consider that the undocumented should be treated as "criminals" who should be deported.
While 40% say they know a family member, friend or co-worker who is undocumented, 63% are not concerned that someone they know could be deported for immigration reasons.
The Biden administration is facing a crisis on the border with Mexico due to the large influx of adult and minor immigrants who were trying, in the midst of the pandemic, to enter the United States escaping natural disasters, violence in their countries of origin and economic crisis.
Widespread disappointment with politicians
The survey shows a disenchantment among Hispanics towards politicians in general.
When asked how they perceived the community's relationship with political parties in the past year, 45% said that Democrats don't care about Hispanics. The same percentage expressed the same opinion about the Republicans.
However, Latino voters continue to perceive a greater closeness to the Democratic Party. Some 47% of the poll participants said that Democrats care about the community. In contrast, only a fifth of those interviewed believe that Republicans are interested in Hispanics, while almost a third believe that Republicans are hostile towards them.
Survey participants also view Congress as an institution where their concerns are not met.
About seven in ten respondents think that Republicans in Congress care "little or not much" about their needs and problems. Five in ten also believe that Democrats in Congress have little concern for Hispanics.
Supreme Court and abortion
With respect to the US Supreme Court, an institution that has traditionally been perceived as a non-political entity, it has little credibility among Hispanics.
Half said they have little or no confidence that the court protects the rights and interests of people like them, while a third considers that it defends them a little. Only 8% said they have complete confidence in the work of the nine judges that comprise this branch of government.
Regarding one of the critical issues in American society that is now in the hands of the court, the right to abortion, the Univision News and NORC survey shows that six out of ten Hispanics agree that abortion should be legal.
Only 12% consider that it should always be illegal, without any exceptions.
When asked about the Texas law that limits abortion to the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, 55% disagree and a little more, 59%, reject the provision that allows private citizens to sue those who help a woman to have an abortion.
The court is expected to rule on abortion-related cases, with the potential to limit or change and even overturn the landmark 1973 ruling, known as Roe v. Wade, that legalized the practice nationwide.
In general, the Latinos interviewed showed some hopelessness, at least in the short term, that things would get better for them. When asked if they think their personal financial situation will improve in the next six months, only 35% said it will. 46% said that their situation will remain more or less the same, while 19% believe that it will become worse.
Despite having a pessimistic outlook, nearly half of Latinos said they felt "extremely" motivated to vote in the midterm elections.
The study also showed that 53% of those surveyed would prefer to see a Democratic majority in the Senate, instead of the current composition, in which each party has 50 of 100 seats. Of those surveyed, a fifth would keep it the same, while just over a quarter would prefer to see a Republican majority in Washington.
It is estimated that at least 11.6 million Latinos will vote in the November midterm elections where control of Congress is at stake, according to a recent report published by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
Although voters in general tend to participate less in elections in which the president is not on the ballot, more Latinos turned out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, during the Trump administration.
Methodology: Univision News commissioned a national poll with registered Hispanic voters age 18 and over representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Interviews for this survey were conducted between February 1st and February 12th, 2022. Data were collected using both probability and non-probability sample sources for a total of 1517 observations. The overall margin of error for the combined sample is +/- 3.71 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. The margin of sampling error may be higher for subgroups. Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone, and online self-completed interviews. The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered by NORC at the University of Chicago.