May 4, 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden completed his first 100 days in office on Thursday, April 29—and the nation now is more optimistic about the coming year, according to findings of a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.
Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) are optimistic about the direction of the country, the poll indicated. The research was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel.
The last time the country came close to that level of optimism about the coming year was in December 2006 during the administration of President George W. Bush—when 61% said they were optimistic about the direction in which the country was headed, according to previous ABC News/Washington Post polls.
But there are some warning lights flashing for the White House. Biden is betting on a lofty agenda to maintain momentum and set up Democrats for success in next year’s midterms, while the GOP is hoping that voters perceive an overreach and the president’s policies become an electoral anchor.
Only a slim majority (52%) think the federal government should spend to revitalize the economy, even if it raises taxes—including 80% of Democrats and 54% of Independents. The question of government spending and taxes largely divides Americans, with 47% saying taxes should stay at the same level, even at the expense of the economy—including 78% of Republicans.
After more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, roughly one-third of Americans (36%) still remain pessimistic about the country’s future under Biden.
Only about one-quarter of Americans (23%) think the country has become more united since Biden took office. Among this group, an overwhelming 87% give Biden credit. Only 3% assigned credit to Republican leaders in Congress, and 10% said both in the poll.
Among the 28% who said the country is more divided, 6 in 10 think Biden is more responsible for the divisions, compared to 34% who say both Biden and Republicans are culpable for sowing division. Only 6% faulted Republicans.
Nearly half of the country (48%) doesn’t see movement on the question of unity since Biden took office—believing the country is neither more united nor more divided. Views on the polarization of the country during Biden’s early tenure fall along party lines—with 95% of Democrats saying the country is either more united (45%) or the same (50%), and 97% of Republicans saying the nation is more divided (65%) or the same (32%).
Biden, who developed a reputation as a moderate over decades in the Senate, has shifted his policy priorities leftward as president. In his address before a joint session of Congress this week, he outlined unprecedented investments for his core priorities, while standing undeterred by sharp Republican resistance. And the Democratic Party appears united behind him: 90% of Democrats approved of his job performance in the latest poll.
But uncertainty looms over what will be his next legislative achievement, with Biden’s political capital split between his enormous infrastructure bill and plans for gun control, immigration, education and child care.
A slim majority of respondents (51%)to the new survey think Biden is compromising about the right amount with congressional Republican leaders on the most pressing issues. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39%) think Biden is doing too little, and only 9% say he is compromising too much.
Republican leaders are viewed more adversely, however. Two-thirds of Americans view GOP leaders in Congress as doing too little to compromise with Biden. Just over 1 in 5 Americans (22%) believe Republicans are doing about the right amount to compromise, and only 10% think they are doing too much.
Biden, for his part, is outperforming his predecessor on this measure. More than half of the country (56%) thought Trump was doing too little to compromise with Democrats in an ABC News/Washington Post poll from September 2017.
Meanwhile, current Republican leaders in Congress are slightly underperforming their Democratic counterparts in the Trump era, when 60% of Americans said the Democrats weren’t doing enough to compromise with Trump.
Research contact: @abcnews