Poll Position: Opinions on Pandemic Response Suddenly Change

Well, that didn't take long. Just weeks after Joe Biden took office, the mainstream media is already out with a glowing poll on his COVID-19 response. The new ABC News/Ipsos survey finds two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the pandemic, more than double the number that disapprove.

The results on Biden are a sharp increase from President Trump, whose COVID-19 approval ratings were consistently below 50% for the past several months. This is despite the fact Biden has only been in office for a few weeks, and is mostly continuing or building on COVID policies implemented under Trump. "When you look substantively at what Biden has done versus Trump on COVID, it's pretty hard to see much all that's different," says Matt Mackowiak, Republican strategist. "So I imagine public perceptions are reflected more by media coverage---the constant negative coverage of Trump and the generally positive coverage of Biden."

Indeed, there has been a predictable change in the tone of COVID-19 media coverage under the new administration. But a closer look at the poll shows a sharp partisan divide as well, with 96% of Democrats supporting Biden's pandemic response, versus only 33% of Republicans...while Republicans only made up 26% of the survey sample. "If you ask those Democratic voters what they like that Biden has done that Trump didn't do, I doubt they could give you a real answer as it relates to COVID," says Mackowiak.

Mackowiak points out that a big reason for all this newfound optimism is the availability of vaccines, something the Trump administration deserves more credit for. "This occurred in less than one year, and that was something President Trump promised, his administration promised, and the media made fun of it, Democrats laughed at it, no one took it seriously," he says. "The fact that we are likely to be through the worse of COVID in the next few months is a reflection of the unprecedented effort to develop these vaccines in less than one year."

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