The Beginning of the Biden Years

Tuesday, February 2, 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 January 27-February 1, 2021. Additional interviews were conducted among 100 Hispanic voters, 100 African American voters, and 100 independents without a partisan lean.

Key takeaways

  • Since the election, more Americans are optimistic about the direction of the country.
  • Biden and the Democratic Party are viewed more favorably and trusted more on a range of issues – particularly the pandemic – than the Republican Party.
  • So far, Americans see their top priorities of the pandemic, economy, and healthcare reflected well in the focus of the new administration.

Optimism is Growing, But Stark Partisan Divisions Remain

In October, 57% of Republicans said the country was headed in the right direction while only 6% of Democrats agreed. Now, 56% of Democrats say the country is on the right track and only 13% of Republicans agree.

  • Since October, independents have grown 9-points more optimistic (from 16% to 25% “right direction”).

Many Are Hopeful Biden Will Put the Country in the Right Direction

Nearly half of independents and even one in five Republicans are hopeful Biden will put the country in the right direction.

Most View Biden Favorably and Approve of His Handling of the Presidency So Far

A majority, including more than two in five independents, approve of the job Biden has done so far as president.

  • On the other hand, only 32% approve of the job Republicans in Congress are doing while 60% disapprove.

The Democratic Party is Viewed More Favorably Than the Republican Party

Americans are split on their views of the Democratic Party, while the Republican Party is underwater by 22 points.

  • While 88% of Democrats view their party favorably, only 70% of Republicans say the same of theirs.

Biden and Democrats More Trusted On Wide Range of Issues

Among independents, Biden and Democrats hold a 47-point lead on trust to handle coronavirus relief and a 38-point lead in trust to handle combatting the pandemic.

  • One in three Republicans trust Biden and Democrats more to expand coronavirus relief and unemployment benefits (33%).

Joe Biden and the Public are Aligned on Top Issues: The Pandemic, Jobs and the Economy, and Health Care

The issues Americans rate as most important for Biden and Congress to focus on include the pandemic, jobs and the economy, and health care; at the same time, these are seen as the top priorities of Biden and Congress.

Most Americans Trust Biden to Tell the Truth

Nearly three in five Americans say they trust President Biden to tell the American people the truth, including almost a quarter of Republicans.

Since Biden’s Inauguration, Increased Belief the Worst of the Pandemic is Over

Since January 11th, the share who say the “worst is yet to come” has dropped by 8 points while the share who say the “worst is over” has increased by 5 points.

  • Democrats are largely driving this movement: since January 11th, there has been a 13-point decline in the share of Democrats who say the “worst is yet to come” (from 70% to 57%).

Americans Confident Biden’s Pandemic Response Will Be Better Than Trump’s

Among independents, a majority say President Biden’s response will be better, including 30% who say it will be “much better.” Even a quarter of Republicans say Biden’s response will be better.