Pandemic Pessimism Begins to Decline

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,005 registered voters conducted February 11-15, 2021. Additional interviews were conducted among 103 Hispanic voters, 100 African American voters, 100 independents without a partisan lean, and 77 Asian American and Pacific Islander voters.

Key takeaways

  • People are increasingly positive about the state of the country and remain hopeful Biden can put America in the right direction.
  • The public views Biden as focused on the pandemic and trusts him and the Democratic Party more than Republicans to handle coronavirus.
  • As more and more Americans get vaccinated, a growing share approve of the vaccine rollout with most crediting the Biden administration with these successes.

Pessimism At Low Point Compared to the Last Year

Since January 11th, the share who say the country is “off on the wrong track” has decreased by 24 points and the share who say it is going in the “right direction” has increased 21 points.

  • Among independents, the share who say the country is “headed in the right direction” has increased 19 points (from 12% to 31%) since January 11th.

Nearly Three in Five Remain Hopeful Biden Will Put Country in Right Direction

Among independents, there has been a 9-point net increase since February 1st in the share who are “hopeful Biden will put the country in the right direction,” from net +9 to net +18.

Biden Job Approval Remains High; Congressional Republicans Underwater

Almost three in five Americans approve of how Biden is handling the presidency, while only three in ten approve of how Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs.

  • While Biden is net +13 among independents, Republicans in Congress are 41 points underwater.

Most Hearing Positives on Biden: Focus on Pandemic, Stimulus, and Vaccine Distribution

More than nine in ten Democrats, three in four independents, and more than half of Republicans are hearing mostly positive things about Biden or a mix.

Americans Feel Pandemic Is Far and Away Most Important Issue – and Feel Biden and Congress Are Focused on It

Nearly two in three Americans say the pandemic is the most important issue for Biden and Congress to focus on, and even more say it is the issue Biden and Congress are most focused on.

Biden and Democrats More Trusted to Handle Pandemic

Biden and Democrats are more trusted than the Republican Party to handle the pandemic by 31 points, including by 36 points among independents.

Two in Three Approve of How Biden is Handling the Pandemic

The majority of independents approve of how Biden is handling the pandemic, as do almost a third of Republicans.

Fewest Say “Worst is Yet to Come” on Pandemic Since the Beginning of the Crisis

Since January 11th, the share who say the “worst is yet to come” in the pandemic has dropped 19 points.

  • The share who say “the worst is over” is up 12 points (from 25% to 37%) while the share who are unsure rose 7 points (from 17% to 24%) since January 11th.

Three in Four Know Someone Who Has Been Vaccinated

Since January 11th, there has been a 29-point increase in the share of Americans who know someone who has been vaccinated and a 12-point increase in the share who personally have been vaccinated (from 4% to 16%).

  • Black Americans continue to report knowing fewer people who have gotten vaccinated than other groups.

As Biden Administration Begins, a Growing Share Approve of the Vaccine Rollout

Since February 1st, there has been a 7-point increase in approval overall of the vaccine rollout in the United States, including a 10-point increase among both independents and Democrats.

Those Who Approve of the American Vaccine Rollout Credit Biden and Those Who Disapprove Blame Trump

Two in five Americans who approve of the vaccine rollout credit the Biden administration for the success, and nearly the same share who disapprove blame the Trump administration for problems.