AP-NORC Poll: Americans Largely Back Biden’s Virus Response

Mar 5, 2021, 7:40 AM

US President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a virtual call to congratulate the NASA JPL Per...

US President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a virtual call to congratulate the NASA JPL Perseverance team on the successful Mars Landing in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden is enjoying an early presidential honeymoon, with 60% of Americans approving of his job performance thus far and even more backing his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

At a moment of deep political polarization in America, support for Biden’s pandemic response extends across party lines. Overall, 70% of Americans back the Democratic president’s handling of the virus response, including 44% of Republicans.

Still, Biden faces more skepticism from Americans on the economy, which has been battered by the pandemic. Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of Biden’s approach to the economy thus far, and 63% say the U.S. economy is in poor shape, the AP-NORC survey shows. Republicans are also less likely to back Biden on the economy than they are on the pandemic, with just 17% supporting his fiscal stewardship.

Less than two months into his presidency, Biden has made the pandemic his central focus, urging Americans to follow stringent social distancing and mask guidelines and vowing to speed up distribution of critical vaccines. He’s also argued that until the spread of the virus is under control, the economy won’t fully recover.

To address financial shortfalls in the meantime, he’s asking Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue plan that would provide direct payments to millions of Americans and surge funds into state and local governments.

The measure has already passed the House. But Biden is having to make compromises to keep all Democratic senators in support of the measure, including agreeing this week to narrow eligibility for $1,400 stimulus checks. In a concession to moderate Democratic senators, Biden agreed that individuals making more than $80,000 annually and couples making more than $160,000 won’t receive any benefits. Biden’s original proposal extended the stimulus funds to Americans with higher annual wages.

The administration estimates that 158.5 million households will still receive checks under the Senate compromise.

The prospect of a pandemic relief bill is welcome news to John Villegas, 58, an Illinois Democrat who supports Biden’s handling of both the virus response and the economy.

“With the closure of so many businesses, there are a lot of people suffering,” said Villegas, who called Biden’s approach a “180 degree shift” from his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Trump argued that the U.S. economy couldn’t afford the hit that came from enacting restrictions on business and travel. The worst fears of economists were averted as Republican-led states followed Trump’s lead and resisted restrictions, but COVID-19 cases skyrocketed. More than 520,000 people have died in the United States from the virus over the past year.

Despite their differing approaches to managing the economy during the pandemic, Biden’s approval ratings on the economy are similar to Trump’s, whose handling of the economy since the virus took hold was consistently backed by about half of Americans. The key difference: That level of support made the economy Trump’s strongest issue, while it’s a relative weakness for Biden compared with Americans’ views of his handling of the pandemic and other issues.

In a reflection of the partisanship that continues to rage in the U.S., many Americans’ views of the economy have flipped since the new president was inaugurated. In December, 67% of Republicans and just 15% of Democrats described the economy as good. Now, 35% of Republicans and 41% of Democrats describe the economy positively. There’s been little change in overall growth or unemployment over that time.

Biden’s handling of the pandemic may well determine the course of his presidency and the political capital he has to pursue significant legislation on other matters. Democrats are working urgently to tee up bills addressing infrastructure investmentpolicing reforms and voting rights. Biden has also vowed to tackle climate change and build on the sprawling health insurance measure signed into law when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president.

His promises of action have garnered him solid approval ratings on some of those fronts. For example, about 6 in 10 Americans say they approve of Biden’s handling of health care and race relations.

Overall, 48% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 37% who said that in December. The poll also shows that 43% of Americans expect things in the country overall to get better in the next year, while 34% think things will get worse and 23% think they will remain about the same.

Biden himself has been purposefully cautious in predicting when life in the U.S. will return to a pre-pandemic normal. Even as he promises that the U.S. will have enough vaccine supply for all Americans by the end of May, he’s said it could be the end of the year or early 2022 before Americans can stop wearing masks or fully return to normal activities.

His team’s goal in setting expectations? Underpromise, then overdeliver.


The AP-NORC poll of 1,434 adults was conducted Feb. 23-March 1 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - This Jan. 22, 2018, file photo, shows Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home which is oper...

Brianna Chavez

Utahn recounts how attempted arson at the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. was prevented

Several bystanders, including two from Utah, were able to prevent a 26-year-old woman from burning down the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday evening. The incident has since sparked national attention.

4 hours ago

emergency lights...

Andy Rose, CNN

Three people killed, including child, after tornado strikes Tennessee

A tornado that cut through Clarksville, Tennessee, Saturday evening left at least three people dead, the county officials said.

6 hours ago

Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania
(Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images)...

Matt Egan, CNN

University of Pennsylvania president resigns after hearing on antisemitism

In a stunning downfall for the leader of one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Liz Magill, the president of University of Pennsylvania, voluntarily stepped down from the helm of the Ivy League school on Saturday following a torrent of criticism for her testimony about antisemitism on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

6 hours ago

Elon Musk may restore Alex Jones account on X.

Clare Duffy, CNN

Elon Musk signals he will restore the X account of notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

Elon Musk signaled Saturday that he would restore the account of right-wing extremist Alex Jones on X, formerly known as Twitter, reversing a 2018 decision by the company’s previous management to deplatform the notorious conspiracy theorist after he repeatedly broke rules prohibiting harassment and hate.

7 hours ago

Greta Gerwig in Los Angeles on Dec. 3.
(Emma McIntyre, Getty Images.)...

Lisa Respers France, CNN

This celeb had the best year ever. And no, it’s not Taylor Swift or Beyoncé

Greta Gerwig has gone from actress to writer/producer/director and, this year, the helmer of the the buzziest movie of 2023, “Barbie.”

10 hours ago

Fewer than two in five people in the US have gotten the flu vaccine this season, according to CDC e...

Deidre McPhillips, CNN

It’s not too late to get vaccinated, as the holidays and respiratory virus season ramp up

Now is the time to get vaccinated to stay safe and healthy amid holiday gatherings and rising levels of respiratory viruses, including the flu, Covid-19 and RSV, experts say.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

AP-NORC Poll: Americans Largely Back Biden’s Virus Response