NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll: COVID, Biden, Congressional Generic, September 30, 2021

Biden Bounces Back a Bit…Most Americans at Least as Stressed Now as at Start of Pandemic

President Joe Biden’s approval rating is on slightly firmer footing since the last NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll earlier this month. At that time, a majority of Americans (51%) disapproved of his performance, now they split. Americans are stressed out by the COVID pandemic. More than 18 months since the first lockdowns began, 41% are just as stressed and 36% are more stressed now than they were at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still Stressed Out
Compared to how you felt before the coronavirus pandemic started, are you more stressed now than when the pandemic began, less stressed, or about as stressed?
Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted September 20th through September 26th, 2021, n=1,220 MOE +/- 3.4 percentage points.
  • Americans divide about Biden’s performance as president – 45% approve and 46% disapprove. His negative rating has dropped five percentage points from our early September poll when his approval rating was under water by 8 points (43% to 51%). Those saying they are unsure is at 9%.

  • In these partisan times, it’s noteworthy there is relatively little difference between the groups who say they are more likely to be stressed by the pandemic now than at the start. Still, Republicans (41%) and rural Americans (41%) are slightly more stressed than Democrats (36%), independents (31%), or urban residents (37%).

  • While Americans are split about whether or not employers should require in-person workers to be vaccinated (48% for, 46% against), 64% believe healthcare workers should be required to be vaccinated. Although smaller, majorities also support a similar mandate for large employers (56%), federal employees (56%), and federal contractors (51%).

  • All questions about vaccination mandates find a wide partisan divide. A general vaccine mandate for in-person workers is backed by 81% of Democrats, 40% of independents, and 23% of Republicans. The mandate for health care workers has the broadest support with 92% of Democrats, 56% of independents, and 38% of Republicans in favor.

Looking ahead to next year’s midterm elections, Democrats (46%) have an early advantage in the national congressional generic ballot question over Republicans (38%). Both partisan bases overwhelmingly support their side. Right now, independents lean Democratic (37% to 31%), but a notable proportion is unsure.

And, in what may be a major issue in the midterms, a majority of Americans (56%) have a great deal (30%) or a good amount (26%) of trust that elections are fair. Once again, there is a very large partisan divide with 84% of Democrats, 56% of independents, and only 31% of Republicans indicating they have a great deal or good amount of trust that elections are fair.

"With increasing demands both home and abroad President Biden's leadership and competence are being tested," says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist Poll. "Biden needs a legislative win while having only the slimmest of margins in Congress."