2. COVID-19 policies: The U.S. economy and the vaccine rollout

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Since Biden took office in January, he and his administration have received positive marks for their handling of the coronavirus. In the current survey, 72% of Americans say the Biden administration has done an excellent or good job in managing the manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Last month, 65% of the public expressed confidence in Biden to handle the public health impact of the coronavirus outbreak, his highest rating among seven issues included on the survey.

While a sizable majority says the Biden administration has done well in managing the manufacture and distribution of vaccines, far fewer (43%) give the Trump administration positive ratings for how it handled this while in office.

However, the Trump administration receives more positive ratings for its support of the development of the COVID-19 vaccines by pharmaceutical companies, with over half of Americans (55%) saying the Trump administration did an excellent or good job.

Opinions about how the Biden and Trump administrations have handled the vaccine rollout differ by party. Nearly nine-in-ten Democrats (88%) give positive marks for the job the Biden administration is doing; 46% say it has done an excellent job, while 42% say it has done a good job. Republicans offer less positive evaluations; still, a 55% majority says the Biden administration has done an excellent or good job in managing the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine.

In their retrospective views of the Trump administration’s handling of the vaccines, both Republicans and Democrats offer more positive evaluations for how the administration supported the development of vaccines than for how it managed their manufacture and distribution.

Large majorities of Republicans (86% and 83%, respectively) give the Trump administration positive ratings for both supporting the vaccine development and managing its distribution. Yet while a majority of Republicans (54%) say the Trump administration did an excellent job supporting vaccine development, fewer (41%) say it did an excellent job managing the manufacture and distribution of vaccines.

Nearly a third of Democrats (31%) say the Trump administration did an excellent or good job in supporting the development of vaccines by pharmaceutical companies. Just 12% of Democrats say the same about the administration’s management of the vaccine rollout.

Broad public support for coronavirus aid package

Americans approve of the $2 trillion coronavirus economic aid package by a margin of about two-to-one. Two-thirds of the public (67%) approve of the bill, with 36% saying they strongly approve. About one-in-three (32%) of Americans disapprove of the bill (17% strongly).

The legislation draws overwhelming support from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (93% favor). A smaller majority of Republicans and Republican leaners (65%) oppose the coronavirus aid package. Roughly a third of Republicans (35%) favor the aid package, which received no support from congressional Republicans.

Overall, the demographic divides in support for the aid package are modest and track with the partisan leanings of each group: Women are somewhat more likely than men to say they approve of the bill. Among racial and ethnic groups, White Americans support the bill at lower rates than Black, Hispanic and Asian adults. And young people are more likely to approve of the aid package than older people.

Lower income Republicans view the aid package much more positively than do Republicans with higher incomes. A majority of lower income Republicans and Republican leaners (55%) approve of the bill, compared with just 18% of those with the highest family incomes.

Similarly, lower income Republicans are much more likely than other Republicans to say the bill will have a positive impact on their family (43%) and the country as a whole (42%) than those Republicans with the highest incomes (12% and 16% respectively).

Lower income Democrats are somewhat less likely than those with higher incomes to say that the bill will have  a positive impact on their families or the country as a whole – though the income divides on the Democratic side are less pronounced than those among Republicans.

Most Americans say they understand how the coronavirus aid package may affect them

A majority of Americans (79%) say feel like they understand how the coronavirus aid package will affect them very or somewhat well, while three-in-ten say they understand its effects very well.

Unlike Americans’ approval of the bill, their reported understanding of the bill is not marked by large partisan divisions. About three-quarters (74%) of Republicans and Republican leaners say they understand the bill at least somewhat well. A slightly larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say the same (84%).

Public split over how Biden’s economic policies compare with Trump’s

Three months into the new administration, 43% of Americans say that, compared with the Trump administration, the Biden administration’s policies are making the country’s economy stronger, while 36% say Biden’s policies are making the economy weaker and 20% say they are not making much of a difference.

About three-quarters of Republicans (76%) say Biden’s policies are making the country’s economy weaker than the policies of his predecessor. In contrast, about the same share of Democrats (74%) say the new administration’s policies are making the economy stronger when compared with the policies of the previous administration. About two-in-ten in both parties say Biden’s policies aren’t having much of a different effect on the economy than Trump’s did (17% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats say this).