Oct 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles

Confidence in Biden administration's ability to ensure a quick post-pandemic economic recovery
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Confidence in President Biden's ability to rescue the economy from COVID-19 has dropped since January, even as Americans' faith rises in his ability to make the vaccine widely accessible, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: It's Democrats and independents driving the declining economic confidence, from 52% of all U.S. adults at the start of his presidency to 44% now. Their softening faith could hinder Biden's ability to lead and hurt Democrats' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

  • In another ominous sign, barely two in 10 Americans are confident Biden can convince vaccine skeptics to take the shots.

What they're saying: Biden's messaging is "focused on the wrong problem" from a confidence-building perspective, said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.

  • "The problem is not the unvaccinated. The problem is convincing those who are vaccinated that they have the tools to navigate a COVID world ... [and reassuring] those who’ve been vaccinated that they can live a normal life again."
  • "People are confused," Young said. "There's no sense of what the endgame is."

By the numbers: 71% of Democrats said they're confident that the Biden administration can ensure the economy recovers quickly after the COVID-19 pandemic — but that's down from 86% in late January just after Biden's inauguration.

  • Independents' confidence on that measure has dropped to 42% from 51%.
  • Republican support is now at 18%, virtually unchanged from 17% in January.
  • Just 21% have any confidence Biden can get vaccine skeptics to take the shot — and just 5% say they're "very confident."

Yes, but: On most vaccine measures, the administration's standings have risen.

  • 76% of all Americans are confident in its ability to make the shots widely available, up from 62% in January.
  • 70% have confidence in the administration to distribute the vaccines quickly, up from 57%.
  • And in a new question, 64% of respondents expressed confidence in the administration's upcoming ability to distribute vaccines to children ages 5-11.

Between the lines: Large shares of Americans are still in the dark about the basic science around transmission and intensity of illness for the vaccinated versus unvaccinated, the survey shows.

  • Only two-thirds know the vaccine is effective in preventing serious illness among people with "breakthrough" cases.
  • Six in 10 Americans either incorrectly believe that unvaccinated people and vaccinated people are equally likely to test positive for the virus, or said they don't know.
  • Four in 10 either don't believe or don't know that unvaccinated people are at least 10 times more likely to die of COVID-19.

Their confusion could deepen their unease, said Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson.

  • "There's this huge mushiness about who's protected, how much they're protected," he said.
  • "Democrats have always been more worried about the pandemic" than Republicans. As a result, he said, "they still don't necessarily think they're safe."

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Oct. 22-25 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,038 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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