Biden approval steady after document discovery: AP-NORC Poll

Biden approval steady after document discovery: AP-NORC Poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — More U.S. adults disapprove of the way President Joe Biden has handled the discovery of classified documents at his home and former office, a new poll shows, but that appears to have had little impact on his overall approval rating to have.

The new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 41% of Americans say they agree with how Biden is handling his job as president, about the same as the 43% who do said in December. In the new poll, 77% of Democrats approve of how Biden is handling his work, while 91% of Republicans disagree, both of which have changed little since late last year.

Biden, who will address a joint session of Congress in his State of the Union address next week, needs all the support he can muster as he strategizes his expected re-election campaign and has been working to get voters on his agenda and instead big legislative gains to focus on the document flap.

Biden’s lawyers discovered classified items in a locked closet in November while vacating his office at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank where he worked briefly after leaving government. The records were turned over to Justice Department officials. The discovery sparked an investigation by a special attorney, and searches by his attorneys and the FBI have turned up additional documents at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. Agents also searched Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and his former office at the Penn Biden Center.

More people disapprove than approve of his handling of the situation since the classified documents were found, 39% to 23%. Another 36% say they neither agree nor disagree. Democrats are more likely to agree than disagree, 44% to 15%, with 40% saying they have no opinion either way.

A majority of Republicans, 68%, say they disagree, 6% agree, and 24% disagree. Republicans are also slightly more likely than Democrats to say they’ve at least heard something about the situation, 71% to 63%.

“It seems to me like he’s doing the right things, and this is happening, people have these documents, Trump and now Mike Pence, too,” said Candace Porth, 72, of Phoenix, a Biden supporter. “It’s happening. I think people who support Biden understand that.”

In follow-up interviews, some survey participants said they would differentiate between Biden’s willingness to surrender documents and the behavior of former President Donald Trump, who refused to release hundreds of documents and prompted the FBI to search his home. Still, many are concerned that executives don’t seem to be good at handling confidential information.

“I feel like it’s a big problem in general,” said Jenifer Hudgins, 36, of Gadsden, Alabama, a Democrat who voted for Biden. One wonders why they have these documents in their homes.

Trump faces a special counsel investigation into his keeping of several hundred classified documents and other government records at his Mar-a-Lago, Fla., estate — and his resisting their release, which led to an FBI warrant and an overnight search to get them to confiscate last August.

Banty Patel, a 46-year-old Republican from New Brunswick, New Jersey, said it seemed like he had the same problem, but Trump and Biden were being treated very differently.

“I think things are looking worse for Joe Biden. He went on the news saying he would always stick with the FBI and later they found out he had documents too.

Most Americans have paid at least some attention to ongoing investigations into classified documents, but they don’t necessarily follow them closely. The survey shows that 28% say they have read or heard a lot about the situation, while a further 35% say they have heard something about it but not much. Another 37% say they have heard little or nothing about it.

On Wednesday, the FBI searched Biden’s home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, but found no classified documents there, according to his personal attorney. The Bidens bought this home, which overlooks a state park adjacent to the beach, in June 2017, months after he left the vice presidency.

Agents took some handwritten notes and other materials related to Biden’s time as vice president for review, just as they did last month when they searched his home in Wilmington, where they also found classified items.

Biden said he was surprised when the documents were first discovered. His lawyers have called his mishandling of the documents a “mistake”.

The administration’s public response was characterized by belated and incomplete information. There are many unanswered questions — what information the documents contained, exactly how many were discovered, and why Biden had them in his possession. Even so, Biden’s attorneys and officials in the White House Attorney’s Office insist they are as transparent with the public as possible.

“I’m more favorable to Biden than Trump, but I don’t think any of this should be in private hands, that’s not right. They should be kept in government buildings,” said Memduh Can, 45, of Falls Church, Virginia, who said he was an independent who voted for Biden. “But the most important thing for me is the economy. If managed well, the country will be safer.”


The survey of 1,068 adults was conducted Jan. 26-30 using a sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Probability-Based Panel, which is intended to be representative of the US population. The range of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for all respondents.

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