WASHINGTON – A majority of Americans approve of U.S. President Joe Biden’s overall performance as he nears the end of his first 100 days in office, two major national polls show, with positive marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and negative reviews for controlling the surge of migrants at the border with Mexico.
A Washington Post-ABC News survey shows 52% of adults give Biden a favorable review compared to 42% who disapprove. An NBC News poll gives Biden a 53%-39% favorable rating.
Both polls show the country’s deep political divide has not changed from the contentious 2020 election in which Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump by narrowly winning several key political battleground states en route to a four-year term in the White House.
The Post-ABC poll showed 90% of Democrats approved of Biden’s performance compared with 13% of Republicans, while the NBC survey said 90% of Democrats, 61% of independents and only 9% of Republicans approve of his performance.
According to the polls, Biden wins some of his highest approval marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 226 million vaccinations having been administered and more than 93 million people fully vaccinated.
The Post-ABC poll said 64% of adults — including a third of Republicans — approved of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. NBC said 69% approved.
But Biden’s performance standing on other issues is weaker, according to the surveys.
The Post-ABC poll said the country’s 46th president is winning a 52% approval rating for his handling of the economy, while 53% disapprove of the way he had dealt with the thousands of migrants from Central America and Mexico who have tried to cross into the United States. Biden, reversing a Trump policy, has allowed unaccompanied minors to stay in the U.S. rather than expelling them.
The NBC poll showed Biden with his highest marks, aside from the pandemic, at 52% on both the economy and uniting the country and 49% on improving race relations. His lowest scores came on dealing with China (35%), restricting guns (34%) and dealing with border security and immigration (33%).
Biden’s first major legislative initiative was a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, approved solely with the votes of Democratic lawmakers against unified Republican opposition. But the Post-ABC poll showed strong public support, with 65% of those surveyed saying they back the plan compared with 31% opposed.
In the politically divided U.S., however, some Republican lawmakers are beginning to publicly take on Biden.
One Trump supporter, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told the “Fox News Sunday” show, “I’m in the 43% [who disapprove of him] — he’s been a disaster on foreign policy. The border is in chaos, the Iranians are off the mat, he’s opening up negotiations with the Iranian regime and they haven’t done a damn thing to change. Afghanistan is going to fall apart. Russia and China are already pushing him around.”
“So, I’m very worried,” Graham said. “I think he’s been a very destabilizing president. And economically, he’s throwing a wet blanket over the recovery, wanting to raise taxes in a large amount and regulate America basically out of business. So I’m not very impressed with the first 100 days. This is not what I thought I would get.”
Biden’s overall favorability rating was essentially the reverse of Trump’s at the same point in their presidencies, with Trump having a 53%-42% disapproval rating three months into his presidency in 2017. But Biden’s approval standing was lower than that for President Barack Obama at the outset of his eight-year presidency in 2009.
Biden is reviewing his first three months in office in a Wednesday night address to a joint session of Congress, although with the necessity of social distancing because of the pandemic, many lawmakers are not expected to attend, and few other officials will be there. In all, about 200 people are expected, compared to the normal 1,600 who have witnessed past presidential speeches in the House of Representatives’ chamber.
In his next effort on a major legislative effort, Biden is attempting to win approval for a more than $2 trillion infrastructure deal.
But many Republican lawmakers are balking at the inclusion of such items as funding for home health care that go beyond the normal infrastructure spending for road and bridge repairs and opposing paying for the program with higher taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals.
Biden, a Democrat, has expressed a willingness for compromise with Republican lawmakers but the two sides remain far apart.