Fewer approve of Biden’s handling of the pandemic

President Biden’s approval ratings have dropped and pessimism about the outlook for the country grows.

August 21, 2021

Approval of President Joe Biden’s job performance has dropped over the past month, particularly his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the number of COVID-19 cases across the country rises, approval of Biden’s handling of the pandemic is waning.  Fifty-four percent approve of his handling of COVID-19, while 45% disapprove. Last month, 66% approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic.

Overall, 54% percent of Americans approve of how Biden is handling his job in general, and 46% disapprove.  In July, 59% had a positive view of his job performance, and 41% had a negative view.  The public is evenly divided over Biden’s handling of the economy with 49% approving and 49% disapproving. 

The public is closely divided over the president’s handling of foreign policy and national security. The AP-NORC survey was conducted August 12 through 16, as Taliban forces quickly swept through the countryside and cities of Afghanistan. The Afghan government collapsed after the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul on August 15.  

The increase in negative views toward Biden’s job performance and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic is driven largely by independents who don’t lean to either party, and to a lesser degree by Republicans.  The overwhelming majority of Democrats continue to approve of Biden’s job performance and his handling of the pandemic.

After a rise in positive views about the direction of the country following the election of Biden, Americans are becoming more pessimistic. Thirty-nine percent say things in the country are heading in the right direction and 61% saying they are headed in the wrong direction. In April, 54% thought the country was on the right course, and only 44% said it was going in the wrong direction. 

Optimistic assessments have dropped regardless of party identification, although most Democrats (64%) still say the country is heading in the right direction. Only 12% of Republicans and 33% of independents agree. 

The nationwide poll was conducted August 12-16, 2021 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,729 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

  • Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  (August, 2021).“Fewer approve of Biden’s handling of the pandemic” [https://apnorc.org/projects/fewer-approve-of-bidens-handling-of-the-pandemic]

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