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Turns out Americans actually like competent government

President Joe Biden is riding high on a public job approval rating his predecessor could only dream of as Americans are giving the 46th Commander-in-Chief high marks based clearly on his handling of the COVID-19 crisis. In new polling from Ipsos, Biden enjoys a 58 percent approval rating among registered voters, including 56 percent of independents — a critical voting bloc that helped deliver him the presidency. At the highest point in his tenure, former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE had just a 49 percent approval rating — back in January 2020, on the heels of his first impeachment acquittal in the senate.

Last month, Trump’s former chief pollster Tony Fabrizio released a 27-page, post-mortem campaign report that laid most of the blame for the incumbent president’s loss on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. From Politico’s coverage of the report, “The autopsy says that coronavirus registered as the top issue among voters, and that Biden won those voters by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. A majority registered disapproval of Trump’s handling of the virus.”

There is no question that the 2020 election outcome was based predominately on the COVID-19 crisis and then-candidate Biden’s assurances that he would defeat the virus early in his administration. In his Inaugural Address, the president spoke of the coronavirus crisis through the lens of unity and shared sacrifice: “My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we will need each other. We will need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.”

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Just over 50 days have passed since the president spoke of that “dark winter,” yet there has been a marked improvement in Americans’ views on the COVID-19 crisis. New polling from Morning Consult track a clear jump in public sentiment around the vaccine: “Two and a half months into the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the public’s opinion of the effort has improved markedly — though they still want it to go faster… 57 percent of adults said they think the vaccine rollout has been effective, up from 39 percent in early January.”

With final passage and signing of the American Rescue Plan this week — the sweeping $1.9 trillion package that has a remarkable level of public approval — Biden is riding a wave of public support specifically based on his response to the COVID-19 crisis. From ABC News: “More than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) approve of Biden's approach to the pandemic — a consistent result since he took office in January. At a moment of deep political polarization, his steady approval is also reinforced by positive marks from 35 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of independents and an overwhelming 98 percent of Democrats in the poll.”

Similarly, for the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the COVID-19 pandemic, 60 percent of Americans believe the coronavirus situation is getting better — a record-high level of positive sentiment, which “likely reflects the steep decline in new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in late January and early February.”

The Biden administration’s markedly different approach from its predecessor’s regarding managing the crisis — namely putting the president front and center with regard to vaccine announcements, distribution and supply chain management — has clearly been a winning strategy. In the past few weeks, a handful of governors have announced both the ending of mask mandates and the reopening of various business in contrast to the guidance from the CDC and Biden’s framing of the mask issue as our collective “civic responsibility.” Public sentiment is strongly behind Biden’s leadership on these issues as well: “More Americans think loosening mask mandates and restrictions on public gatherings is happening too quickly, 56 percent and 50 percent respectively, compared to only about 1 in 4 who believe it's happening too slowly, 22 percent and 26 percent respectively,” according to ABC.

On Thursday night, President BidenJoe BidenFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: report Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting MORE delivered his first primetime address from the White House, marking the one-year anniversary of the world locking down because of the virus. A CBS poll released Thursday morning showed Biden’s support still riding high, “narrowing the partisan divide.”

Kevin Walling (@kevinpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News, Fox Business and Bloomberg TV and Radio.