President Joe Biden’s approval average at 41%, congressional approval average at 20%

Recent approval polling averages show President Joe Biden (D) one point up from his lowest-ever approval rating and the U.S. Congress receiving its highest approval since early January.

On March 1, Ballotpedia’s polling index showed Biden at 41% approval and 54% disapproval. At this time last month, his approval rating was also at 41%. The highest approval rating Biden has received is 55%, last seen on May 26, 2021, and the lowest approval rating he has received is 40%, last seen on February 18, 2022.

Congress was at 20% approval and 67% disapproval. At this time last month, its approval rating was 17%. The highest approval rating Congress has received is 36%, last seen on July 16, 2021, and the lowest approval rating it has received is 14%, last seen on Jan. 26, 2022.

Ballotpedia’s polling index takes the average of polls conducted over the last thirty days to calculate presidential and congressional approval ratings. We average the results and show all polling results side-by-side because we believe that paints a clearer picture of public opinion than any individual poll can provide. The data is updated daily as new polling results are published.

Biden announces Shalanda Young as nominee for director of Office of Management and Budget

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President Joe Biden (D) announced Shalanda Young as his nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Nov. 24, 2021. Young was previously confirmed as deputy director of the OMB on March 2 and has been serving as the agency’s acting director. 

Earlier this year, Biden nominated Neera Tanden as OMB Director. Tanden withdrew her nomination on March 2 before the Senate voted on her confirmation. The position was last held by Russell Vought, who served from 2020-2021 during the Trump Administration.

So far, the Senate has confirmed 22 of Biden’s Cabinet members. After Tanden’s withdrawal, OMB Director has been the last remaining unfilled position. Young’s path to confirmation will include hearings before the Senate Committees on Budget, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, followed by a confirmation vote by the full Senate.

Before Young’s confirmation as deputy director of the OMB, she had worked for the House Appropriations Committee since 2007. In 2016, she became the Democratic deputy staff director of the committee. She became Democratic staff director in 2017.

The Office of Management and Budget is a United States executive agency formed in 1970 to, according to its mission statement, “serve the President of the United States in implementing his vision across the Executive Branch.” Its chief responsibilities are managing the development and execution of the annual federal budget, overseeing federal agencies and executive branch operations, and coordinating and reviewing agency regulations.

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45 years ago, Alaska voters approved measure removing residency requirement for presidential elections

Forty-five years ago—on August 23, 1966—Alaska voters approved a measure permitting the state legislature to shorten the residency requirement for persons living in Alaska who wished to vote only for President and Vice President of the United States. It was the first measure the state legislature referred to the ballot since Alaska received statehood in January 1959. Voters approved the amendment 75% to 25%.

According to a 1963 Senate Judiciary Committee report on proposed constitutional amendments, 35 states required residents to live in their current state for one year before becoming eligible to vote. These laws prevented people from voting—even for President—when they moved between states. The Senate even drafted a constitutional amendment to eliminate such requirements nationwide.

Here is a quote from the 1963 Senate Judiciary Committee report summarizing the issue:

“The victims of these outmoded residence requirements include many citizens who are best equipped to exercise the right of voting, such as educators, clergymen, and professional people. Interstate businesses constantly shift managers, salesmen, and other executives. The American Heritage Foundation estimates that 8 million adult American citizens were barred from the ballot box in the 1960 elections by inability to meet State, county, or precinct residence requirements. Apart from the possible effects upon election results, this produces apathy and bitterness in such people toward governments which cheat them of their democratic birthright merely because they move their residence.”

The Alaska measure removed the one-year voter residency requirement that was in the state Constitution. The following year—in 1967—the Alaska legislature eliminated those residency requirements in state law. 

In 1970, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act and abolished state residency requirements nationwide as a precondition for voting for President and established uniform standards for absentee voting in presidential elections.

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President Biden announces fifth slate of federal judicial nominees

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate his fifth slate of judicial nominees on June 30, which included six individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms:

• Toby Heytens, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

• Jennifer Sung, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

• Jane Beckering, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan

• Patricia Tolliver Giles, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

• Shalina Kumar, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

• Michael Nachmanoff, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

To date, Biden has nominated 30 individuals to federal judgeships. Seven of the nominees have been confirmed. There were 82 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary as of July 1.

As of his inauguration in January 2021, Biden inherited 46 Article III vacancies: two vacancies in the U.S. courts of appeal, 43 vacancies in the U.S. district courts, and one vacancy on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Biden announced his first federal judicial nominees on March 30.

Biden’s announcement on June 30 also included two nominees to Article I courts:

• Armando Bonilla, to the United States Court of Federal Claims

• Carolyn Lerner, to the United States Court of Federal Claims

Article I courts are federal courts organized under Article I of the United States Constitution. They are created by Congress and have differing levels of independence from the executive and legislative branches. Examples of Article I courts include the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the Court of Military Commission Review, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts.

Biden also announced his intent to nominate one individual to the local D.C. superior court:

• Sean Staples, to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C., has two local courts: the superior court—a trial court of general jurisdiction—and a court of appeals. Justices on these courts are nominated by the U.S. president after recommendation from the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission; they then face confirmation by the U.S. Senate. D.C. judges are appointed to 15-year renewable terms.

Additional reading:

Judicial selection in Washington, D.C.

Judicial vacancies in federal courts

Judicial vacancies during the Biden administration

Comparing 2020 presidential and senatorial vote share by party

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Ballotpedia compared the performance of Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R) in the 2020 presidential election to Democratic and Republican Senate candidates in each state.

Thirty-five U.S. Senate elections were held in the general election. Biden outperformed Chris Janicek (D) in Nebraska, Sara Gideon (D) in Maine, and the cumulative vote total for Democratic Senate candidates in Louisiana by the largest margins with a percentage difference of 27.0%, 22.5%, and 15.8%, respectively.

Biden underperformed Steve Bullock (D) in Montana, Doug Jones (D) in Alabama, and Mike Espy (D) in Mississippi by the largest margins with a percentage difference of 10.7%, 8.0%, and 7.0%, respectively.

The following map shows the percentage difference between Biden and Democratic Senate candidates in all states that held Senate elections. Positive numbers indicate Biden overperformed. Negative numbers indicate Biden underperformed. 

Trump outperformed Allen Water (R) in Rhode Island, Bryant Messer (R) in New Hampshire, and Lauren Witzke (R) in Delaware, by the largest margins with a percentage difference of 19.2%, 11.4%, and 7.5%, respectively.

Trump underperformed Susan Collins (R) in Maine, Mike Rounds (R) in South Dakota, and Ben Sasse (R) in Nebraska, by the largest margins with a percentage difference of 14.6%, 5.7%, and 4.7%, respectively.

The following map shows the percentage difference between Trump and Republican Senate candidates in all states that held Senate elections. Positive numbers indicate Trump overperformed. Negative numbers indicate Trump underperformed.

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Senate Commerce Committee advances Lander nomination for OSTP director

On May 20, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation favorably reported by voice vote the nomination of Eric Lander for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lander advances to the Senate for a confirmation vote.

President Joe Biden (D) elevated the office of the OSTP director to his Cabinet, marking the first time this position was made Cabinet-level. 

Lander, a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. He is the final announced Biden Cabinet nominee awaiting confirmation. 

One other Cabinet position—director of the Office of Management and Budget—currently remains unfilled. Neera Tanden, Biden’s original nominee for the position, withdrew from consideration on Mar. 2 following bipartisan opposition to her nomination. Biden has not yet named a replacement nominee.

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Biden’s first 100 days in office

April 30 marks the 100th day of President Joe Biden’s (D) presidency. Here is a round-up of where his administration stands so far.

Executive actions

Biden has issued 42 executive orders, 14 presidential memoranda, 49 proclamations, and 10 notices. Biden’s 42 executive orders are the most from a first-term president in his first 100 days in office since President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) in 1933.


Twenty-one of Biden’s 23 Cabinet members have been confirmed.

The two outstanding Cabinet positions are the directors of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Eric Lander, Biden’s nominee for OSTP director, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on April 29. If Lander is confirmed, it will be the first time a presidential science advisor is in the president’s Cabinet.

Biden initially nominated Neera Tanden, the president of Center for American Progress, to serve as OMB director. She withdrew from consideration after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and several key Republicans said they would not support her confirmation. Biden has not yet named a replacement nominee. 

Judicial nominations

Biden nominated 10 individuals to the federal circuit and district courts. Five of the nominees are awaiting committee hearings. The other five are awaiting a committee vote. Biden also nominated a judge to the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.


Eleven bills have become law under the 117th Congress. The Biden administration’s signature legislation so far is the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law on March 11, 2021, to provide economic relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion bill passed without support from any Republican members of Congress.

Tie-breaking votes

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) has cast four tie-breaking votes in the U.S. Senate. Two of the votes related to a budget resolution and one to the American Rescue Plan Act. The fourth vote was to discharge the nomination of Colin Kahl for under secretary of defense for policy.

Approval rating

Ballotpedia is tracking the 30-day average of presidential approval rating polls conducted by a select list of polling organizations and outlets.

President Biden’s approval rating for the 13th week of his term was 52.5%, down 1.9 percentage points from the week before. President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his term was 41.7%, up 0.6 percentage points from the week before.

Absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rates decreased in at least 20 states between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections

Ballotpedia’s analysis of 2020 election data shows that at least twenty states rejected a lower percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election than they did in 2016. At least seven states rejected a greater percentage and four states’ rejected the same percentage. Nineteen states have not yet released data making a comparison possible and were not included in this analysis.

The number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast in the 31 states shown above increased 109% from 24.4 million in 2016 to 50.9 million in 2020. The number of rejected ballots also increased from 222,096 in 2016 to 364,242 in 2020, a 64% increase. 

While the number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast and rejected were both higher in 2020 than in 2016, the rejection rate across these 31 states decreased by 0.2 percentage points from 0.9% in 2016 to 0.7% in 2020.

Nationwide, voters cast just under 33.4 million absentee mail/in ballots in 2016 with a rejection rate of 1.0%. In 2020, voters cast an estimated 65.6 million.

The table below shows the 2020 rejection rates Ballotpedia has gathered so far. Vermont is included with its 2020 rejection rate but excluded from other analyses due to the lack of 2016 data.

Data from 2016 was gathered from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey, a biannual state-by-state analysis of elections’ administration mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Ballotpedia gathered information on 2020 rejection rates using news sources, publicly available election statistics, and direct outreach to state election officials.

To view more analyses of rejected absentee/mail-in ballots and to learn more about how Ballotpedia gathered this preliminary data, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Election_results,_2020:_Analysis_of_rejected_ballots

Federal Register weekly update: 1,366 pages added

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The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From April 12 through April 16, the Federal Register grew by 1,366 pages for a year-to-date total of 20,248 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 525 documents:

• 441 notices

• six presidential documents

• 49 proposed rules

• 29 final rules

One proposed rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration aiming to modify the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 12 significant proposed rules and seven significant final rules as of April 16.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register 

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Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018

Final executive clemency update of Trump presidency

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction.” From 2017-2021, Donald Trump (R) issued 143 pardons and 94 commutations. That averages out to about 36 pardons per year and 24 commutations per year. 

Trump’s 143 total pardons are the most by a one-term president since Jimmy Carter (D), who issued 534 total pardons. His 36 average annual pardons are the most of any president since Bill Clinton (D).

Trump issued the second-most commutations since Lyndon Johnson (D), behind Barack Obama who issues 1,715 commutations. Trump’s average annual commutations issued are also second-most since Johnson.

Since 1902, presidents have issued 14,333 pardons (about 120 per year) and 6,641 commutations (about 56 per year). Democratic presidents issued 8,393 pardons and 4,103 commutations, while Republican presidents issued 5,940 pardons and 2,538 commutations. The president to issue the most pardons in that span was Franklin Roosevelt (2,819) and the president to issue the most commutations in that span was Obama (1,715).