Majority Americans pessimistic about country’s direction: Poll

Washington: As President Joe Biden completed 100 days in office, the country was optimistic about the coming year, but now, just after hitting the six-month mark, Americans’ optimism about the direction of the country has plummeted nearly 20 points, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

A majority — 55% — of the public say they are pessimistic about the direction of the country, a marked change from the roughly one-third (36%) that said the same in an ABC News/Ipsos poll published May 2.

The decline in optimism has occurred across the board among Democrats, Republicans and independents. Optimism is down about 20 points among Democrats and Republicans and down 26 points among independents.

The optimism-pessimism flip comes as Americans give Biden his lowest approval rating for his handling of the pandemic yet in ABC News/Ipsos polling. A little over 6 in 10 (63%) approve of the president’s response to the coronavirus, according to the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.

Although still a majority, it’s a nine-point drop from late March — the high for Biden. It likely reflects the growing concern that lockdowns could be reinstated and already vaccinated Americans could need a booster shot as the highly contagious delta variant now is estimated to account for 83% of all new coronavirus cases in the United States.

The level of approval for the president’s handling of the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic has also dropped by seven points since late March, when 6 in 10 approved. Although jobless claims were expected to hit a new pandemic-era low, instead they increased to a level last seen in mid-June, though it’s too soon to know if that will become a trend.

The overwhelming majority (88%) of Democrats approve of the president’s handling of the economic recovery, but only about half (49%) of independents do and less than 2 in 10 (16%) Republicans do.

On other issues, Biden’s approval is underwater, and lackluster even among his own party. Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans approve of the president’s handling of immigration and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, crime and gun violence. Republicans have hounded Biden and Democrats over all three, as border crossings and violent crime rates, especially in Democrat-run U.S. cities nationwide, surge. That’s reflected in Republicans’ high level of disapproval — ranging between 86% and 92% — of the president’s handling of the three issues, according to this poll.

An exception to these low ratings on issue- or policy-based performance is the president’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, for which a majority (55%) of Americans approve.

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