US President Joe Biden’s popularity rose sharply after bottoming out this summer, although concerns about his economic management persisted, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Support for Biden rebounded from a low of 36% in July to 45%, fueled in large part by a surge in support from Democrats just two months before the midterm elections in November. During the harsh summer months, when gas prices soared and lawmakers seemed deadlocked, Democrats faced the prospect of heavy losses to Republicans.

Prospects seemed to have improved after a series of legislative successes made more Americans willing to judge the president on the terms he prefers: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me with the alternative.”

The approval rating was still in the negative, with 53% of American adults disapproving of his job, and the economy was still a weak spot for Biden. Barely 38% approved of his economic leadership in a context of high inflation, and while Republicans try to make domestic finances the central issue ahead of the elections.

Still, the poll suggested that Biden and his Democratic colleagues were gaining momentum just as voter enthusiasm and turnout loomed large.

“He doesn’t seem to me like the best person for the job, he’s the best person we could pick from,” said Betty Bogacz, a 74-year-old retiree in Portland, Oregon. “He represented stability, which I think President Trump did not represent at all.”

The president’s popularity is now similar to what he had in the first quarter of the year, but remains below his initial figures. His average approval rating in AP-NORC polls in his first half in office was 60%.

His recent popularity boost is due to new support among Democrats, who seemed to have drifted away earlier in the summer. Now, 78% of Democrats approve of Biden’s job, up from 65% in July. 66% of Democrats approve of his economic management, up from 54% in June.

Republicans view him as negatively as before. Barely one in 10 Republicans views the president in a positive way in general or in economic matters, numbers similar to those of previous months of the summer.

Christine Yannuzzi, 50, doubted that Biden, 79, had the ability to lead.

“I don’t think in his mind he’s fully aware of what’s going on all the time,” said Yannuzzi, who lives in Binghampton, New York. “The economy is doing terrible and I find it hard to believe that the unemployment rate is as low as they say.”

“I think that the middle class is being very punished and families have two and three jobs per person to get ahead,” said the Republican.

Akila Atkins, 27, a stay-at-home mom of two, thinks Biden is “just fine” and isn’t very confident that his solutions will curb price hikes.

As the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, the expanded tax credit cut the child poverty rate in half last year, to 5.2%. Atkins said the move had helped them “stay afloat with bills, clothes, kids’ shoes, school supplies, everything.”

Despite her reservations about Biden, the Democratic voter from Grand Forks, North Dakota, said she was preferable to Trump.

“I always think he could be better, but he is certainly better than our last president,” she said.

The survey of 1,054 adults was conducted between September 9 and 12 with a sample drawn from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel, based on probability and designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

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