A Solid Majority Of Americans Approve Of How Biden Has Handled The Pandemic. But They Don’t Necessarily Approve Of His Job Overall.

Throughout President Biden’s first few months in office, Americans have generally viewed the coronavirus as the country’s most pressing problem. But as communities reopen, vaccination rates rise and new COVID-19 cases fall, is Biden getting “credit” for his handling of the pandemic?

Well, yes, on the one hand. Americans rate Biden’s response to the pandemic quite positively, especially compared with former President Donald Trump’s. According to FiveThirtyEight’s average,1 63 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus, while only 39 percent approved of Trump’s when he left the White House. 

But, on the other hand, no. Despite the importance of COVID-19 to voters, Biden’s overall job approval rating has never come close to his approval rating for dealing with the pandemic, which suggests that some segments of the public approve of his work on the coronavirus but not of his job performance in the aggregate.

The interplay between Americans’ views of a president’s performance on specific issues and Americans’ views of that president’s performance overall is messy, inconsistent and complicated by partisanship. Voters might largely approve of Biden’s handling of COVID-19, but the coronavirus isn’t the only issue that matters to them. And more importantly, partisanship tends to override most things when it comes to a president’s overall standing — whether it’s someone from the opposing party approving of a certain issue but not overall, or someone from the president’s party backing him overall but not on a particular problem.

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Biden’s topline rating sits at about 55 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s approval tracker,2 about 8 percentage points lower than his approval on handling the coronavirus. And that gap has mostly widened since February.

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