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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

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.