NBC News national political correspondent Steve Kornacki said Sunday on “Meet The Press” that the results of the latest NBC News poll show President Joe Biden’s lowest-ever approval rating.
KRISTEN WELKER: As the war between Israel and Hamas rages, it is having a transformative impact on our politics. We have a brand new NBC News poll out this morning, which shows the toll it is taking on the president.
KORNACKI: I think you’re right to set it up that way. What’s happening in the Middle East really does seem to be connecting with what’s happening domestically in our politics. Let’s start with the bottom line here. President Biden, what is his job approval rating? We measure it now at 40%, with 57% disapproving.
The significance is that is the lowest President Biden has ever measured in our poll in terms of job approval. Just look at the sea change from the start of this year. Recall, remember, Democrats coming off strong from the 2020 midterms, he was almost even. Now he’s 17 points underwater.
If you look by party, it’s significant for two reasons. One, independents, obviously, more than two to one disapprove. You don’t want to be there as an incumbent president. But equally significant, no surprise, 7% of Republicans approve of Joe Biden’s job performance, but three times as many Democrats, 21%, more than one in five, say they disapprove.
You need much more unified support in your own party than if you’ll have a successful re-election campaign. We mentioned the drop in that approval rating and the connection of the Middle East. Here it is: on foreign policy, 33% approve of Joe Biden’s job performance. Just in September, we asked the same question, and it was 41-53.
WELKER: These numbers surprised our own pollsters with one saying he cannot remember a time when a foreign entanglement that didn’t involve U.S. troops had the power to transform the electorate, and that’s not the case in this poll.
KORNACKI: To go a step further, this jumps out at you, too. Overall, this is the handling of the Israel-Hamas war. It kind of measures overall with Biden’s foreign policy approval, but look at this. Among the oldest group of voters, 65+, there’s a majority that approve how Biden is handling this, that’s +12. Look at the youngest group of voters: 20 approve, 70% disapprove — he’s 50% underwater with the youngest voters. That’s a 62-point net swing between youngest and oldest on this topic of Israel and Hamas.
We are showing you Biden’s problems here, and the question is, who will the Republicans nominate to oppose him? Donald Trump towering above the field here. Two others in double digits. Compare this to the last poll, and Trump is steady, and the only growth here is right there, Nikki Haley. She grew last time. She grew a little bit more this time into double digits.
WELKER: Those numbers are fueled by non-trump voters. I’ve been talking to sources inside the Trump World who say they’re not panicking because of that, but it’s clear she has real momentum here.
KORNAKCI: If you look at voters who call themselves conservative or very conservative, they’re very pro-Trump. They seem a little reluctant, a little resistant to her [Nikki Haley] and she has to breakthrough not just with moderates and independents. She’s got to break through with core Republican voters who like Donald Trump if she wants to make this a real game with Trump. So, if we are heading toward Trump-Biden, a re-match in 2024, how does that look in the polling right now? Here it is. Donald Trump, we have at 46%, Biden, 44%.
WELKER: This is significant because this is the first time in the history of our poll that former President Trump beats President Biden, still within the margin of error, but still significant.
KORNACKI: In 2019 and 2020, when Trump was president, he trailed all of them. This year, he trailed all of them in our poll. This is the first time in more than a dozen polls we’ve seen a result like this. Some of the other ingredients that go into this, Biden has long had an advantage over Trump on likability.
At the start of the year, 39% had a positive view of Biden and barely 30% of Trump. Now, the gap is gone. 36% positive on both, and actually Biden, one point more negative than Trump. That’s been a significant advantage. That advantage, for now, may be gone. And we talked about younger voters on foreign policy, and it’s true on a host of other topics, disaffected with Joe Biden. We have 46% for Trump 42% for Biden among the youngest [18-34] voters. The youngest voters in the 2020 election were Biden +26. This could be a massive sea change. If you take a look here, too, everybody sort of says, “I’m not too nuts about the possibility of this matchup.” So we said, let’s measure this one way and here’s how we did it.
Biden against an unnamed Republican, and this is a referendum on Biden. Look at this: he goes from being in a dogfight with Trump to double digits behind. But flip it around. Trump against an unnamed Democrat, and Trump goes from leading against Biden to down six points to the Democrat.