Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Trust in federal coronavirus response surges

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Trust surged in the federal government since President Biden's inauguration when it comes to COVID-19 — but that's almost entirely because of Democrats gaining confidence, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: Americans reported the biggest improvement in their mental and emotional health since our survey began last March, and the highest trust levels since April about the federal government providing them accurate virus information and looking out for their best interests.

  • The survey also found a new high for interest in getting vaccinated, with half of respondents now saying they want to take it as soon as they can get it.
  • But just 12% said they'd signed up or made an appointment to get the vaccine, and overwhelming majorities had not yet sought out information from their doctors, pharmacies, government health departments or social media.

What they're saying: Pollster Chris Jackson, senior vice president for Ipsos Public Affairs, said the rising numbers are "indicative of the switch in government; this is almost entirely based on trust in Biden."

  • "Biden has an opportunity to get people into it," Jackson said of the vaccine. "But he's going to have to do it, it's not just going to happen. People are kind of waiting to be told to take the vaccine."
  • Respondents were relatively confident (62%) in the Biden administration's ability to make the vaccine widely available, but divided (52%) about whether the new government can quickly revive the economy.
  • Jackson said that suggests the public may be less patient with Biden pursuing policies right now that aren't directly tied to dealing with the virus.

Between the lines: Republicans' trust in the federal government was flat or marginally lower than in our Jan 8-11 survey, the last time we asked the question. Independents' trust was flat or marginally higher.

  • What's really driving the trust gains is how deeply Democrats distrusted former President Donald Trump — and how strongly they trust Biden. That translates to 25- and 30-percentage point gains over just two weeks.
  • It's worth noting that Republicans aren't abandoning trust proportionately to Democrats' gain in trust.
  • 58% of respondents overall say they trust Biden to give them accurate information, compared to the 27% who trust Trump.

By the numbers: Overall, 50% of Americans now say they have a great or fair amount of trust in the federal government to provide accurate information about the virus, while 50% have not very much trust or none at all.

  • That's the highest it's been since our April 3-6, 2020, survey. It compares with a 40% trust v. 60% distrust split when we last asked this question two weeks ago, in the waning days of the Trump administration.
  • More than seven out of 10 Democrats (72%) trust the information now, up from 42% two weeks ago.
  • 48% of independents' trust the information, up from 44%.
  • Republicans' trust is in the hole: just 30% trust the information now, down from 34%.

Asked if the government is looking out for their family's best interests, 43% of respondents now say yes while 57% say no.

  • That's nothing to be proud of, but it's an improvement from the 36%-63% divide two weeks earlier — and the highest trust figures since the April 24-27 survey.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Jan. 22-25 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,112 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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