Democrats fail to sell Biden's infrastructure, domestic plans to Americans: POLL

ByQuinn Scanlan ABCNews logo
Sunday, October 31, 2021
State of Biden's infrastructure, social spending bills
A vote on President Joe Biden's infrastructure and social program bills could happen as early as Tuesday, said Averi Harper, ABC News deputy political director.

WASHINGTON -- Negotiations on the infrastructure and social program bills have consumed Capitol Hill for months. Still, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll out Sunday finds Democrats are failing to sell the legislation to the public, who are broadly unaware of what is in the spending packages or skeptical they would help people like themselves, or the economy, if signed into law.

President Joe Biden was unable to secure a legislative win before departing on his second foreign trip since taking office, even after he laid out a framework for the package focused on social programs and climate change around which he believes Democrats can rally. He pitched that package, which no longer includes paid family and medical leave or free community college, as a "historic economic" opportunity on Thursday, but this poll reflects the continued confusion and intraparty mistrust over these bills.

Although a majority (55%) of the public is following news about the negotiations at least somewhat closely, about 7 in 10 (69%) Americans said they know just some or little to nothing about what's in both bills. Fewer than half (31%) said they know a great deal or good amount. Despite Republicans having sat on the sidelines while the White House works exclusively with congressional Democrats to get both bills to the president's desk, the lack of knowledge extends across all parties.

Americans also do not feel like these bills would help them or the U.S. economy if they become law.

WATCH: Biden announces 'historic' deal on $1.75 spending bill, asks Democrats for votes

President Joe Biden announces that he has reached a "historic" framework with Democrats in Congress on his $1.75 trillion spending proposal.

The ABC News/Ipsos poll, which was conducted using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel, found that a plurality (32%) of Americans think the bills would hurt people like them if they became law, while fewer (25%) think it would help them. Nearly 2 in 10 (18%) think the bills would make no difference, and 24% said they didn't know.

Even among Democrats alone, fewer than half (47%) think the two bills would help people like them. A quarter of Democrats think the bills would make no difference for people like them and about 2 in 10 (22%) don't know how they would impact their lives. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans think the bills would hurt people like them, and so do about 3 in 10 (29%) independents.

The American public is evenly divided -- 34% to 34% -- over whether they believe these bills would help or hurt the U.S. economy if they become law. Very few (6%) think the bills would have no effect on the economy, and a quarter don't know. Democrats are much more likely to think the legislation would help the economy if enacted than Republicans and independents, 68% compared with 7% and 29%, respectively.

Biden's inability to get these bills over the finish line has not helped the president's mediocre approval ratings on an array of issues, which have solidified since the Sept. 24-28 ABC News/Ipsos poll.

His handling of the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the United States' infrastructure are the only issues where a majority of the public approves of Biden -- 56% and 52%, respectively -- and neither is an improvement compared with the last ABC News/Ipsos poll. On both issues, he's bolstered by near-universal support from members of his own party, as well as about half of independents.

President Joe Biden announces that he has reached a "historic" framework with Democrats in Congress on his $1.75 trillion domestic policy spending proposal.

Just under a majority of Americans approve of the president's handling of climate change (48%) and the economic recovery (47%). Again, relatively high support among Democrats -- 78% and 86%, respectively -- keeps his approval from sinking too far.

Republicans are generally unified against the president on all issues, but overall approval for Biden takes the biggest hit on issues where Democrats' and independents' confidence drops.

While about half (49%) of independents approve of Biden's handling of climate change, on other issues -- economic recovery, gun violence, crime and taxes -- independents' approval hovers around 4 in 10.

The president's overall approval dips below 40% on three issues: gun violence (39%), Afghanistan (34%) and immigration and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border (31%).

Fewer than two-thirds (64%) of Democrats approve of Biden's handling of gun violence. A similar share (62%) of Democrats approve of the president's handling of Afghanistan. On immigration, Biden is barely holding onto majority support among his own party, with just 54% approving of him on this issue.

Only around 3 in 10 independents approve of Biden's handling of immigration and Afghanistan, 29% and 31%, respectively.

METHODOLOGY: This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs' KnowledgePanel Oct. 29-30, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 514 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.7 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions were 31%-24%-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll's top-line results and details on the methodology here.

ABC News' Ken Goldstein and Dan Merkle contributed to this report.