President Joe Biden did not get off to his best start in the new year as a solid majority of Americans expressed frustration over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy. 

On Tuesday, a CNBC/Change Research poll found that Biden’s economic management received poor grades with 60% of those polled expressing their disapproval. This negative score has also cut into Biden’s overall approval rating, which sagged to 44%, the lowest of his young presidency. 

Why Biden’s ratings continue to crater may have to do as much with Americans’ mounting concerns over inflation and the intensification of the COVID-19 pandemic this winter. 

Prices for core goods like food and energy have been pushed higher by a combination of supply chain bottlenecks and a nationwide labor shortage. Cases of COVID-19 have surged in the last month due to the Omicron variant, pushing a number of cities to tighten their restrictions or introduce new ones to curb the virus’ spread. 

Inflation has had a direct impact on Americans' views about the economy. The CNBC/Change poll found that Americans were putting the blame on Biden with 72% disapproving of his handling of everyday prices and his relief efforts.

Biden has taken a number of steps in an effort to limit inflation. He has met with the heads of major companies to determine steps to reduce supply chain bottlenecks, concocted an action plan aimed at food inflation and coordinated an international effort to bring down energy prices by encouraging more oil production. Biden has made cutting inflation a priority, but he has also at times appeared to downplay it.

However, there are areas where the Biden administration can tout success. Initial unemployment claims are at historic lows, wages are higher and the president presided over a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is aimed at improving dilapidated sections of the nation’s infrastructure.

A sour mood on the economy does not bode well for Biden going into this year’s midterm elections. First-term presidents typically lose a chunk of their allies in Congress or outright control of at least one chamber to their opponents in midterms.

With his approval ratings stuck in the mid-40s, Republicans are all but salivating at the prospect of regaining control of at least the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold only a five-seat majority.