President Biden’s Honeymoon Period

The public is giving the Biden Administration some benefit of the doubt as it begins to meet the challenges facing the country. A majority approve of Biden’s job performance and have measured confidence in his ability to handle key policy and governance issues.

February 4, 2021

As is typically the case with new presidents, Joe Biden is enjoying a honeymoon period with the public. Two weeks into his administration, 61% approve of how he is handling his job as president. Most Americans have at least some confidence in the president’s ability to handle the variety of problems facing the nation, in particular the coronavirus pandemic and race relations. However, the strong partisan divisions seen during the Obama and Trump administrations remain.

Forty-four percent think Biden has a great deal of respect for the country’s democratic institutions and traditions, and another 26% say he has a fair amount. But while 80% of Democrats say Biden has a lot of regard for country’s institutions and traditions, 58% of Republicans think he has little or none.

Most Americans are at least somewhat convinced of Biden’s skill in dealing with the key policy and governance issues facing the country. Seventy-four percent have a great deal or some confidence in Biden’s ability to deal with the pandemic. Seventy-one percent are confident that Biden will be able to handle race relations and the same number are confident in his ability to manage climate change.

In contrast to his predecessor, more than 4 in 10 Americans have a great deal of confidence in Biden’s ability to manage the White House, appoint good people to the cabinet and high level positions, and then incorporate their advice in his decision-making. In June 2018, more than 4 in 10 Americans had hardly any confidence in Donald Trump’s ability to manage these same tasks.

The public’s view of Congress has improved, albeit still negative overall. However, Democratic control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives has improved how the party’s supporters view the institution. Fifty-four percent of Democrats approve of how Congress is handling its job compared with 16% of Republicans. In February 2020, only about 20% of both Democrats and Republicans approved of Congress’s job performance.

Democrats have favorable impressions of both Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader. Republicans have mixed views of Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. Negative views of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority leader, have increased among Republicans. In February 2020, 27% of Republicans had an unfavorable opinion of McConnell; now 52% are unfavorable.

The nationwide poll was conducted January 28-February 1, 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 1,055 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.8 percentage points.

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