Biden & the Issues Facing the Nation

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll

The Economy & Preserving Democracy Top the List of Critical U.S. Issues, But...

While the economy and preserving democracy are top of mind for Americans, partisan differences fuel a lack of consensus about the nation’s policy priorities. Agreement does exist, though, when examining some of the most rancorous issues in U.S. society. Americans perceive crime to be a reality (not just a tool for political rhetoric), agree that healthcare is a basic human right, and that TikTok poses a threat to national security. The most contentious issues pertain to LGBTQ+ rights and the responsibility for providing universal healthcare. Amid this political environment, President Joe Biden receives tepid job approval ratings.

Most Important U.S. Issue
From this list, which of the following issues do you feel is the most important facing our country:
Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted March 20th through March 23rd, 2023, n=1,327 MOE +/- 3.5 percentage points. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
  • Fueled by partisan differences, Americans lack consensus about the number-one issue facing the country. 31% of Americans cite the economy followed by preserving democracy with 20%. All other response options receive single digits.

  • For Democrats, preserving democracy (25%) is the top issue staring down the nation. The economy (17%), healthcare (13%), climate change (13%), and gun policy (10%) follow. For Republicans, nearly half (48%) cite the economy. Preserving democracy (14%) and immigration (14%) are the only other responses which receive double digits among the GOP. Among independents, one in three (33%) consider the economy to be the nation’s top issue followed by preserving democracy (22%), immigration (11%), and healthcare (10%).

  • Amid this political environment, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is 42% among Americans, down from 46% in February shortly after the State of the Union. 49% disapprove, and 9% are unsure. Nearly four in ten Americans (38%) strongly disapprove of the job Biden is doing in office while 22% strongly approve.

  • Biden has failed to make inroads on the economy. His approval rating on the issue is 38%, comparable to 39% he received in April of 2022. 52% currently disapprove of how he is handling the economy. 10% are unsure.

  • Biden’s approval rating on crime is also upside down. 35% of Americans approve of the job he is doing. 50% disapprove, and 14% are unsure how to rate Biden on crime.

"President Biden’s improved standing after the State of the Union was short-lived," says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "With a struggling economy, the Trump investigations, and a host of other issues, the political agenda remains crowded, and Biden has been unable to sustain any traction."

Many Americans Consider Crime a Reality, Not a Politicized Issue

68% of Americans think crime in the United States is a real threat in most communities. 31%, however, say it is an issue blown out of proportion by politicians to win voters. Regardless of demography, at least a majority perceives crime to be a threat to most communities. Those who supported President Biden in 2020 (57%), Democrats (58%), and white men with a college education (58%) are the least likely to have this view.

TikTok Considered National Security Threat… Majority Support for Ban

More than seven in ten Americans (73%) think TikTok poses either a major (35%) or minor (38%) threat to U.S. national security. Only 23% think the social media platform poses no threat at all.

Many Democrats (67%) and Republicans (79%) agree that TikTok is a national security risk. However, they differ in their perception of the threat level. While a plurality of Democrats (40%) think the platform poses a minor threat, a plurality of Republicans (45%) consider it a major threat to the security of the United States.

A majority of Americans (57%) support the federal government banning TikTok. With the exception of GenZ and Millennials, at least a majority of other demographic groups support this action by the federal government. GenZ and Millennials divide with 48% supporting to 51% opposing a ban of the social media platform.

Most Americans Believe in Universal Right to Healthcare

Thirteen years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, more than eight in ten Americans (83%) either agree or strongly agree that all Americans have a basic right to healthcare coverage. More than six in ten (63%) believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have coverage.

While there is bipartisan consensus that all Americans should have the right to healthcare, Democrats (75%) and independents (51%) are more likely than Republicans (27%) to strongly agree.

Partisan disagreement exists on who should be responsible for providing access to healthcare for all Americans. While Democrats (88%) and independents (57%) think it is the role of the federal government, Republicans (61%) disagree.

Majority Opposes Criminalizing Providing Gender Transition-related Medical Care to Minors

54% of Americans oppose a proposed bill which criminalizes gender transition-related medical care for minors. Democrats (68%) and independents (56%) drive opposition to such legislation. Republicans (63%) bolster support for criminalizing gender transition-related medical care for minors. 43% of Americans, overall, support this legislation.

Support for criminalizing this type of medical care for minors has grown since April of 2021 when 28% of Americans supported criminalization, and 65% opposed it.

Nearly Six in Ten Oppose Restricting Drag Shows in Their State

58% of Americans oppose laws that would restrict drag shows or performances in their state. 39% support legislation to restrict them. While 61% of Republicans are in favor of these bans, 73% of Democrats and 57% of independents oppose the proposed limitations.

Sustainability and Business Practices Considerations in Americans’ Investments

More than three in four Americans (76%) say, when considering their investment options, it is more important to invest in companies that are mindful of their business practices and environmental and societal impact. 23% believe it is more important that the company makes the most money, regardless of their practices and larger societal and environmental impact.