Poll: Biden presidency lowers pandemic pessimism, but Americans still worry about road ahead

U.S. & World
Biden covid plan

US President Joe Biden speaks about the Covid-19 response as US Vice President Kamala Harris (left) looks on before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With a new president in the Oval Office leading the United States’ federal response to the year-long COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are more optimistic about the outlook.

An NBC News poll conducted Jan. 10-13 and released Thursday found that 38% of Americans believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us, while 44% think the worst is yet to come.

These results show the country is more optimistic than it was before Election Day, when the same poll in late October found 25% thought the worst of COVID-19 was behind us and 55% thought it was still ahead.

That’s a bit more optimistic than survey results from shortly before the November election, when just 25 percent of voters said that the worst of the virus was already in the rear view mirror, while 55 percent predicted that the worst was yet to come.

Both polls found 15% Americans believe the coronavirus is not a major problem.

NBC’s poll of 1,000 registered voters has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

For most polls, you can read the margin of error (MoE) like this: If the poll were to be done again 100 times, in 95 of those times the results would be within “X” percentage points of the original.


So let’s say a national poll of a sampling of registered voters, with an MoE of +/- 3, has:

  • Joe Biden at 53%
  • Donald Trump at 47%

  • You can be 95% certain that a hypothetical poll of all registered U.S. voters would yield results between these extremes:

  • Biden 56/Trump 44 (+3 more for Biden, -3 fewer for Trump)
  • Trump 50/Biden 50 (+3 more for Trump, -3 fewer for Biden)
  • "We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus,” President Joe Biden said during his inaugural address Wednesday, “We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.”

    The spike in pandemic optimism was predictably greatest among Democrats. In late October, 83% of Democratic voters said the worst was yet to come. It’s 57% now. Among independent voters, it went from 55% last fall to 42% now.

    Biden’s election has Republicans more pessimistic, however, with the share of GOP voters who think the worst of the virus is still to come rising from 25% to 30%.

    Bumpy road ahead

    Despite Biden’s promises to do more to tackle the pandemic than his predecessor, more than four in 10 Americans still believe the worst of COVID-19 is yet to come.

    Biden inherits a wildly unpopular vaccine rollout left behind by the Trump administration. More than half of voters in NBC’s poll say the administration of vaccines has gone poorly (30%) or “not too well” (25%).

    Just 11% said the vaccine rollout is going “very well,” and 31% think it is going “fairly well.”

    Among those unhappy with the rollout, 64% chiefly blame the federal government, while 21% blame the states and 11% blame both levels.

    One of Biden’s major pandemic promises is for the federal government to distribute 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine in his first 100 days, which ends April 30.

    Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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