From 'Scranton Joe' to 'Scranton No': Biden's Approval Rating Plummets in Home District

Just 38 percent of voters in Pennsylvania's Eighth Congressional District back Biden

August 10, 2022

Voters in "Scranton Joe" Biden's home district are souring on the historically unpopular president, polling obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows.

Just 38 percent of voters in Pennsylvania's Eighth Congressional District—which includes Biden's hometown of Scranton—approve of the president, compared with 60 percent who disapprove, according to a recent Cygnal poll. The survey, which was commissioned by Republican congressional hopeful Jim Bognet's campaign and shared with the Free Beacon, comes as Keystone State residents deal with record-high inflation—in June, for example, the average price for a gallon of gas in Pennsylvania exceeded $5 for the first time ever.

Biden has long touted his Scranton upbringing in an attempt to appeal to working-class Americans, a tactic that likely helped the Democrat narrowly carry Pennsylvania in 2020. Roughly a year and a half into his presidency, however, Biden's "Joe from Scranton" image has quickly deteriorated, a development that does not reflect well on Democrats' midterm chances. Beyond the eighth district, just 34 percent of Pennsylvania voters back Biden's performance as president, compared with 55 percent who disapprove, according to Civiqs.

In addition to Biden's approval rating plunge, the Cygnal poll shows Bognet with a 1 point lead over incumbent congressman Matt Cartwright. The Democrat narrowly defeated Bognet by 3 points in 2020, a result that Republicans will look to flip as they work to retake the House in November.

Biden was set to visit Scranton in late July but scrapped the plan after testing positive for COVID-19. Days before the event, Cartwright confirmed that Biden would visit his district but did not say whether he would join the president. Just months earlier, in January, top Pennsylvania Democrats snubbed a Biden appearance in Pittsburgh, with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro citing "scheduling conflicts."

Cartwright in April 2019 said he was "honored" to endorse his "friend, northeastern PA hometown boy, Joe Biden for president" and has since backed the unpopular president to run for reelection in 2024. Some of his House Democratic colleagues, however, disagree. Minnesota Reps. Dean Phillips (D.) and Angie Craig (D.) have both said they would not support a Biden reelection bid, with Phillips arguing that the United States "would be well served by a new generation of compelling, well-prepared, dynamic Democrats who step up."

Biden's lackluster political standing in his hometown marks "the end of Scranton Joe," the National Republican Congressional Committee argued. 

"Scranton voters have completely abandoned Joe Biden and that shift is going to devastate Matt Cartwright's chances in November," spokeswoman Samantha Bullock said in a statement.