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Expand chart
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.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Health

CDC: 60% of U.S. is fully vaccinated

Photo: Nick Oxford/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sixty percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: This comes as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the U.S. It has been detected in 19 states, and the number is expected to increase, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Tuesday's White House COVID-19 briefing.

Dec 7, 2021 - Health

Report: COVID exacerbated young people's "unprecedented" mental health challenges

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 15. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. surgeon general warned on Tuesday young people face "unprecedented" mental health challenges — and the pandemic has only made matters worse.

Why it matters: Depression, suicidal ideation and emergency room visits for mental health reasons have risen significantly in young people, according to the 53-page advisory from the country's top physician, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy.

Young Dems more likely to despise the other party

Expand chart
Data: Generation Lab; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Nearly a quarter of college students wouldn't be friends with someone who voted for the other presidential candidate — with Democrats far more likely to dismiss people than Republicans — according to new Generation Lab/Axios polling.

Why it matters: Partisan divides — as each side inhabits parallel political, cultural and media universes —make a future of discord and distrust in the U.S. all the more likely.