AP-NORC poll: Biden bolstered by strong marks on pandemic

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

President Joe Biden speaks during an event on COVID-19 vaccinations and the response to the pandemic, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – Americans are broadly supportive of President Joe Biden’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll finds, and approval of his stewardship of the economy has ticked up following passage of a sprawling $1.9 trillion relief bill.

But Americans are more critical of Biden’s early approach to some of the hot-button issues that are moving to the forefront, including guns and immigration, according to the survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The president has outlined goals for tackling both issues but has made clear that they are not his immediate legislative priorities.

“I’m going to deal with all those problems. The question is the priorities as they come and land on my plate,” Biden said in a news conference last week.

Biden's early weeks in office have made it abundantly clear that his top priority is curtailing the pandemic: urging Americans to take precautionary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, prioritizing the rollout of vaccines and pushing the relief bill through Congress in a party line vote. Vaccine distribution has soared since Biden took office, with more than 96 million Americans having received at least one dose.

Americans have responded favorably to the president's approach, with 73% approving of his handling of the pandemic. That includes about half of Republicans, a rarity given how divided Americans have been along party lines on many key issues in recent years.

Gwen Medley, a nurse from Galveston, Texas, who has been administering vaccines in her state, is among them. The 66-year-old Republican is critical of Biden on a range of other issues, including immigration, but said the president is doing a “pretty good job” on the pandemic so far — in part, she says, because of vaccine efforts he inherited from the Trump administration.

“Trump got the ball rolling, and Biden is continuing to push that ball,” Medley said.

Notably, Biden’s approval rating on the economy has ticked up slightly since passage of the relief bill, which included direct payments to millions of Americans and aid to schools and state and local governments. Sixty percent of Americans now say they approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, compared with 55% a month ago.