President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE is beginning his first term in the Oval Office with the approval of roughly half of Americans, but faces a stark partisan divide as he looks to make good on his vow to unite the country, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.
The poll — Quinnipiac’s first since Biden took office on Jan. 20 — shows the newly inaugurated president’s approval at 49 percent, while 36 percent said they disapprove of how he has handled his job in the White House so far. Another 16 percent said they either didn’t have an opinion on the matter or declined to answer.
The partisan divide in opinions on Biden’s job performance are striking. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats said they approve of the new president’s work so far, an opinion shared by only 11 percent of Republicans.
Independents, meanwhile, were more evenly split, with 44 percent approving and 36 percent disapproving, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
Biden’s early approval rating is already somewhat better than that of his predecessor, former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE. A Quinnipiac poll released at a similar point in 2017 showed Trump’s job approval registering at 42 percent and disapproval at 51 percent.
“The Biden numbers are solid but not spectacular as the country tries to coalesce around a new administration that faces the dual challenge of daunting economic struggles and comforting a COVID-weary public,” Tim Malloy, a polling analyst at Quinnipiac University, said.
Despite the sharp partisan split in Biden’s approval numbers, about 6 in 10 Americans — 61 percent — said they are generally optimistic about the next four years with him in the White House. And most respondents — 56 percent — believe he is doing more to try to unite the country than divide it, the poll found.
But Biden has his work cut out for him, coming into the White House amid a pandemic, economic turbulence and boiling political tensions.
Opinions are split on the Democratic Party, with 46 percent of Americans believing that it is moving in the right direction and another 46 percent believing that it is headed down the wrong path, the Quinnipiac poll found.
But it still fares better in the court of public opinion than the GOP. Nearly two-thirds of Americans — 64 percent — said they believe the Republican Party is heading in the wrong direction, while only 25 percent believe it is moving in the right direction.
Meanwhile, approval of the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate is underwater.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they approve of Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE’s (D-N.Y.) job performance, while 42 percent disapprove. His Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to act on debt ceiling next week White House warns GOP of serious consequences on debt ceiling Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-Ky.), fares even worse; only 21 percent said they approve of his job performance, while about two-thirds — 67 percent — disapprove.
Leaders in the House received lackluster reviews, as well. House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Jan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-Calif.) scored 45 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval in the Quinnipiac poll. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Top Democrats tout California recall with an eye toward 2022 Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE (R-Calif.) notched 27 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval.
Overall, congressional Democrats received a 44 percent approval rating, while 46 percent of respondents said they disapprove of their job performance. Republicans, meanwhile, registered only a 26 percent approval rating, with 64 percent disapproving of how they are handling their role.
Despite the bitter partisanship in Washington, a clear majority of Americans — 68 percent — agree that the coronavirus pandemic represents a major crisis for the country.
The Biden administration has already proposed a $1.9 trillion relief plan to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, though that package has been met by resistance from Republicans, some of whom have countered by offering up a $618 billion aid package.
Most Americans, however, want to see Biden’s proposal come to pass, according to the Quinnipiac poll. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they support the $1.9 trillion measure, while only 24 percent oppose it.
Likewise, the vast majority of respondents — 78 percent — support a provision in that measure that would distribute $1,400 stimulus payments to Americans. The plan proposed by Republicans calls for $1,000 direct payments, but only to those making under $40,000 per year.
Another provision in Biden’s proposed legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour also has the support of a majority of Americans, with 61 percent backing such a requirement and 36 percent opposing it, the poll found.
The Quinnipiac University poll is based on live phone interviews with 1,075 U.S. adults conducted from Jan. 28-Feb. 1. It has a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.