Biden Gets Positive Marks For First Steps As President, Survey Finds

Americans give President Joe Biden solid marks for his first day in office, a set of new HuffPost/YouGov polling finds, rating him positively both on his inaugural address and on a series of executive actions he has signed.

The results align with other polls on the beginning of the Biden presidency, which find him taking office with an average approval rating of about 55%. That’s a considerably higher starting point than President Donald Trump had, although it falls below the robust initial job approval “honeymoons” that were common for new White House occupants from the 1950s up through the end of the 1980s.

Trump’s ratings throughout his four years in office remained both notably low and remarkably steady. The stability was likely due in part to his status as a polarizing figure, as well as broader forces of calcifying partisanship. Biden’s broader base of support offers more of a cushion, but also further room for volatility. 

In the HuffPost/YouGov survey, 43% of Americans say they feel Biden’s inauguration was meant for people like them, compared to 29% who say it was not. Four years ago, the public was about evenly split on whether Trump’s inauguration was meant for people like them.

Similarly, Americans say by a 17-percentage-point margin that it would be a good thing if Biden’s actions as president are in line with his behavior as a candidate. In 2017, they said by a 22-point margin that it would be a bad thing if Trump’s presidency continued along the same lines of his candidacy.

The poll finds that 57% of Americans say they either watched the inauguration or consumed later news coverage about it. As is generally the case with political events, the audience was self-selecting: people who chose to tune in are more politically engaged than the public at large and are significantly more likely to be supporters of Biden.

Given that friendly audience, the reception for Biden’s inaugural address was ― perhaps unsurprisingly ― positive. Roughly three-quarters rated his speech as either good or excellent, with similar shares describing it as optimistic and giving them hope. In Four years ago, 55% of Americans who tuned into Trump’s inauguration speech rated it good or excellent.

Immediately following his inaugural address, Biden signed 17 executive actions, more than half of which reversed Trump-era policies. In a second HuffPost/YouGov survey, which gauged opinions on nine of those actions, all polled at least slightly above-water, with most garnering majority support.

Continuations of two Trump-era policies ― a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and an extension of the pause on federal student loan payments ― were among the most popular. But reversals of several Trump policies, including actions to keep the U.S. in the World Health Organization, rejoin the Paris climate accord, and halt construction of the border wall with Mexico, also saw net-positive ratings.

Results of new HuffPost/YouGov polling on several of Biden's actions on his first day in office.

Results of new HuffPost/YouGov polling on several of Biden’s actions on his first day in office.

Two-thirds or more of the public say they support extending the pause on federal student loans (67% approve) and the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures (70%), as well as banning workplace discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity (69%) and asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days while instituting new mask requirements for federal buildings and contractors (70%).

Biden’s move to keep the U.S. in the World Health Organization was backed by 57%, while about half approve of the U.S. rejoining the Paris climate accord and halting construction of a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Less of a strong consensus was found on reversing the Trump administration’s “travel ban” for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries (45% approve, 41% disapprove) and canceling the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline (38% approve and 34% disapprove).

None of the actions asked about in the poll received greater than 41% disapproval, and none saw more than a third of the public strongly opposed.

Underlying those numbers is near-unanimous backing from Biden’s supporters, sometimes coupled with relatively muted reactions by his opponents. Most of the executive actions included in the survey had 90% support or higher among voters who backed Biden in 2020. 

A majority of Trump voters do disapprove of rolling back some of his most highly touted proposals, including the travel ban and the wall. Only about half, though, disapprove of the new mask-wearing guidance, and even fewer of the extended pause on student loan payments.

On balance, Trump voters are more likely than not to support extending the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, as well as banning sexual-orientation or gender-identity based workplace discrimination.

The rest of the public, comprising nonvoters and those who picked a third-party candidate, give positive ratings to all of the executive actions included in the survey, although they’re much more likely to say they’re unsure.

Results of new HuffPost/YouGov polling on President Biden's first day in office.

Results of new HuffPost/YouGov polling on President Biden’s first day in office.

The HuffPost/YouGov polls, each consisting of 1,000 completed interviews, were conducted Jan. 20-22 and Jan. 21-25 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.