Axios-Ipsos poll: Biden is losing trust on COVID

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Data: Axios/Ipsos Poll; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Americans' trust in President Biden has eroded as they've slowed their expectations for how quickly they can get back to their pre-pandemic lives, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Two trends we've been watching for a while — drawn-out timelines for returning to normal, and declining trust — are not a coincidence but cause-and-effect, these findings suggest. That's hurting Biden with Democrats as well as independents.

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What they're saying: "He's basically losing the expectations game," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. public affairs. "Once the Delta variant raised its ugly head, it affected people's lives, and now they're adjusting their expectations, which is not good for him."

  • "His central pillar ... is his ability to bring to a resolution the pandemic and the COVID issue. He's in a very difficult place."

  • The survey specifically measures Americans' trust in Biden to provide them with accurate information on COVID. But it has also served as a proxy for broader trust in Biden over the course of his first year in office.

The big question: How much and how fast will Biden's trust numbers recover if infection and hospitalization rates continue to get better?

By the numbers: In our June survey, 36% of U.S. adults said they expected to be able to get back to their normal, pre-COVID lives at some point within six months. Today, that share is just 13%.

  • Those expecting it to take more than a year has tripled over the same period, from 9% to 30%.

  • Back in June, about 65% of people who thought life would be normal again in six months also said they trusted Biden a great deal or fair amount.

  • Today, just 44% of those who think life will be normal again in six months say they trust Biden.

Most Democrats say they still have some degree of trust in Biden to provide them accurate information on COVID — but that trust has softened significantly.

  • 81% of Democrats currently have at least a fair amount of trust in Biden, down from 88% in early June.

  • But the share of Democrats who say they have a "great deal" of trust in Biden has dropped sharply, from 45% to 33%.

  • With independents, the "great deal" measure has dropped from 17% to 11%. Just 2% of Republicans say they trust Biden a "great deal" — that's remained steady since June.

Between the lines: "In the absence of a villain, Democrats are kind of turning on the president because they don't know who else to blame," said Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson. "A lot of the people who are his supporters still feel very anxious about COVID."

  • "He's lost a ton of ground with that group that thought they were going to be able to get back to their lives within the next six months," Jackson said.

  • The president's woes aren't confined to this group. Trust in Biden even slid among those who say life will never go back to normal, from 38% to 30%.

The intrigue: 6% of survey respondents said they know someone with a fake vaccine card.

What we're watching: This week's findings also identify a big political hurdle to enforcing mandates: While clear majorities support employers requiring vaccinations and testing, there's no consensus around what to do when people defy the rules.

  • Just 14% of respondents say those workers should be fired, while 29% say nothing should happen. Another 22% say they should be placed on unpaid leave, 21% say they should be made to work from home or offsite, and 14% say they don't know what should happen.

  • There's a clear partisan split: A majority of Democrats favoring firing or taking away the pay of the non-compliant, while half of Republicans say nothing should happen and just 4% favor firing people.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Oct. 8-11 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,015 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

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