Share of Americans viewing illegal immigration as a ‘very big’ problem grows
Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand the public’s views on how the Biden administration has addressed national issues in the first 100 days of its presidency, including evaluations of the coronavirus economic aid package and COVID-19 vaccine distribution. For this analysis, we surveyed 5,109 U.S. adults in April 2021. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
Joe Biden approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency with a relatively strong job approval rating and the public continuing to express positive views of the coronavirus aid package passed by Congress last month. Moreover, nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) say the Biden administration has done an excellent or good job managing the manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Americans.
Currently, 59% approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 39% disapprove. Biden’s job approval rating has increased modestly from 54% in March. Biden’s job approval is comparable to several of his predecessors – including Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush – and much higher than Donald Trump’s in April 2017.
Views of Biden and his administration highlight several stark contrasts with opinions of his predecessor. Far more Americans say they like the way Biden conducts himself as president (46%) than say they don’t (27%), while another 27% have mixed feelings about his conduct. Similarly, 44% say he has changed the tone of political debate for the better, while 29% say he has made the tone of debate worse (27% say he has not changed it much).
On both questions, there are sizable differences in views of Biden and Trump. Last year, just 15% said they liked the way Trump conducted himself as president, which was little changed from telephone surveys dating to 2017. In both 2020 and 2019, majorities (55% on each occasion) said Trump had changed political debate in the U.S. for the worse.
However, the share of the public saying they agree with Biden on important issues is little different from the share saying that about Trump last year. Fewer than half of Americans (44%) say they agree with Biden on all or nearly all (13%) or on many (31%) of the important issues facing the country; 25% say they agree with Biden on a few issues, while 29% say they agree with him on almost no issues. Last year, 42% of Americans said they agreed with Trump on nearly all (19%) or many issues (23%).
The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted on the Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel from April 5-11, 2021 among 5,109 adults, finds that the administration gets high marks for handling the manufacture and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. Note, the survey was conducted prior to the FDA and CDC April 13 recommendation to pause the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
While an overwhelming share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (88%) say the administration has done an excellent or good job in managing the vaccine rollout, so too does a much smaller majority (55%) of Republicans and Republican leaners.
The Trump administration receives far lower ratings for how it managed the manufacture and development of COVID-19 vaccines (43% say they did an excellent or good job). However, a 55% majority of the public – including 86% of Republicans and nearly a third (31%) of Democrats – express positive views of the Trump administration’s support for the development of COVID-19 vaccines by several pharmaceutical companies.
Public support for the coronavirus aid package, which Biden signed into law a little more than a month ago, remains robust. More than twice as many Americans approve (67%) than disapprove (32%) of the $1.9 trillion aid bill. That is little different from the 70% who favored the economic aid package in March, shortly before it was enacted.
More Americans expect the economic aid bill will benefit the country than themselves: 55% say the aid package will have a mostly positive effect on the country as a whole. Fewer than half as many (26%) say it will have a negative effect, while 18% say it will not have much of an effect. About half (49%) expect that the aid bill will have a mostly positive impact on themselves and their families.
While the coronavirus legislation has gotten a positive response from the public, the public has somewhat mixed views of whether Biden’s economic policies are making the economy better when compared with Trump’s. About four-in-ten (43%) say the policies of the Biden administration are making the economy stronger than it was during Trump’s presidency; 36% say his administration’s policies are making the economy weaker, while 20% say they are not making much of a difference.
As is the case with the public’s overall views of the U.S. economy, assessments of how Biden’s policies have affected the economy are deeply divided along partisan lines. About three-quarters of Republicans (76%) say Biden’s policies are making the economy weaker compared with the policies of his predecessor, while nearly an identical share of Democrats (74%) say Biden’s policies are strengthening the economy.
The survey finds that, for the most part, the public’s views of major problems facing the U.S. are little changed from about a year ago. However, the share of Americans saying the coronavirus is a very big problem has declined 11 percentage points since last June (from 58% to 47%), while the share citing illegal immigration has increased 20 points (from 28% to 48%).
While views of most national problems are divided along partisan lines, including illegal immigration, increasing shares of both Republicans and Democrats rate illegal immigration as a very big problem. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (72%) say illegal immigration is a major problem, up 29 points since last June. The share of Democrats who say this is a major problem is now 29%, compared with 15% nearly a year ago.
Over this period, Republicans and Democrats have moved in opposite directions in concerns about the federal budget deficit. Currently, 71% of Republicans say the budget deficit is a very big problem; about half of Republicans (49%) said this in June 2020. By contrast, just 31% of Democrats rate the deficit as a major problem, down from 45% last year.