President Biden earned a 55% approval rating in the poll and 53% of respondents believe the institution of the presidency is working. This represents a modest improvement in confidence in the White House compared to last year’s survey, when 54% of respondents felt the presidency was ineffective. If the 2020 election took place today, 46% say they would vote for Biden, as opposed to 41% for former president Donald Trump. 63% of Americans reject the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
Americans also demonstrate significant optimism about the country’s future, with 69% showing confidence in what lies ahead. Most respondents express concern about where the nation and the economy are headed. Only 41% of those surveyed believe America and its economy were trending in the right direction, while 52% feel the country was off on the wrong path and 50% are similarly dissatisfied with the direction of the economy. Despite the relative pessimism about national and economic trends, this year’s survey respondents are considerably more optimistic than last year, when only 28% believed the nation was headed in the right direction and 34% said the economy was on the right track.
Congress continues to be a source of frustration for most Americans. 40% of respondents believe Congress is working effectively. Surveyed voters are far more pleased with the Supreme Court and the United States armed forces. 59% of respondents are satisfied with how the Supreme Court is operating and 77% believe the armed forces are a properly functioning institution.
“The U.S. Congress is increasingly seen as not working and as a broken institution hampered by partisanship and the rise of party caucuses,” Christopher Arterton, professor emeritus of political management and founding dean of the GW Graduate School of Political Management, said. “Meanwhile, in keeping with the change of administrations, partisan voters have completely flipped on some important powers such as whether executive orders are being abused. Even so, voters of all stripes give generally positive evaluations to the workings of most executive branch institutions, especially the military.”
Large majorities of Americans tout the importance of bipartisanship in our democracy. 78% believe it is critically important for both parties to agree on major policy changes. Approximately three-quarters of Americans fear the bipartisan system of governing has broken down and 53% blame that breakdown on Congress. 67% of respondents want to preserve the filibuster, with 52% viewing it as a tool that protects the minority party and promotes compromise.
The online survey was conducted by HarrisX on behalf of the Society of Presidential Pollsters from September 8 – 9, 2021. 1,803 registered voters participated in the survey. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, education, political party, and political ideology where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.
The complete results from the survey can be found here. Professor Arterton and Society of Presidential Pollsters founder Mark Penn will discuss the survey results in a virtual event on Wednesday, September 15, at 11:45 AM. You may register and view the event at go.gwu.edu/prespoll2021.
The George Washington University established the Society of Presidential Pollsters in 2010. The Society acts as a membership organization for the select group of people who have served as public opinion advisors to the President of the United States. The Society aims to collect and preserve records of the polling conducted on behalf of the White House over the last eight decades.