- Biden expected to improve environment (64%), education (63%) most
- Outlook for Biden reducing budget deficit lowest since 1980
- Expectations of Biden lower than they were of Obama, higher than Trump
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than half of Americans expect the Biden administration will be able to accomplish 10 of 15 specific national and foreign policy goals commonly sought by U.S. presidents. The public is most likely to predict the next administration will make improvements to the environment (64%), education (63%) and conditions for minorities and the poor (60%), as well as increase respect for the U.S. abroad (60%).
At the same time, U.S. adults are least likely to say President-elect Joe Biden will be able to substantially reduce the federal budget deficit (28%) or avoid raising Americans' taxes (30%).
Bar chart. Americans' expectations that the Biden administration will be able to accomplish 15 specific national and foreign policy goals. Americans are most likely to predict the next administration will make improvements to the environment (64%), education (63%) and conditions for minorities or the poor (60%), and increase respect for the U.S. abroad (60%). U.S. adults are least likely to say Biden will be able to substantially reduce the federal budget deficit (28%) or avoid raising Americans' taxes (30%).
The other six policy goals that majorities of Americans think the Biden administration will achieve are improving the health care system (58%), keeping the U.S. safe from terrorism (56%), reducing unemployment (54%), improving race relations (54%) and the economy (53%), and keeping the nation out of war (52%).
Meanwhile, in addition to Americans' skepticism on tax increases or deficit reduction, less than half of U.S. adults think he will be able to reduce the crime rate (39%), heal political divisions in the country (39%) and control illegal immigration (44%).
At least 65% of Democrats believe that Biden will accomplish all the goals except for substantially reducing the deficit (45%) and not raising taxes (49%), and majorities of independents say he will achieve nine of the 15. Yet, no more than 30% of Republicans think the Biden administration will realize any of these goals. Though this pattern is typical, partisans' views have become increasingly politically polarized for the past two presidents-elect.
Outlook for Biden Administration Better Than Trump, Not as Good as Obama
These findings, from a Dec. 1-17, 2020 poll, are the latest in Gallup's tracking of Americans' expectations for modern-day presidents-elect, although the list of specific goals has varied over the years.
Since 1988, majorities of Americans have anticipated that each new presidential administration would improve the economy and education. Likewise, in the years that it was asked, majorities consistently said the incoming president would keep the U.S. safe from terrorism and reduce unemployment.
Americans have also been more likely to have positive expectations for incoming Democratic than Republican presidents on the environment, conditions for minorities and the poor, and the health care system.
|G.H.W. Bush 1988||Clinton 1992||G.W. Bush 2001||Obama 2008||Trump 2016||Biden 2020|
|Improve quality of the environment||50||64||42||70||35||64|
|Increase respect for the U.S. abroad||64||50||58||76||47||60|
|Improve conditions for minorities, poor||39||68||44||80||44||60|
|Improve health care system||-||64||46||64||52||58|
|Keep the U.S. safe from terrorism||-||-||-||62||57||56|
|Improve race relations||-||-||44||-||35||54|
|Improve the economy||65^||59||63^||64^^||60||53|
|Keep the nation out of war||70||60||-||-||38||52|
|Control illegal immigration||-||-||-||35||59||44|
|Heal political divisions in country||-||-||41||54||39||39|
|Reduce crime rate||36||-||44||-||43||39|
|Avoid raising your taxes||24||20||49~||36||51~||30|
|Substantially reduce federal budget deficit||33*||38*||50**||42*||46||28|
|All readings from Nov. or Dec. except George W. Bush which was from a Jan. poll. Varied wordings: ^"Keep America prosperous"; ^^"Create a strong economic recovery"; ~"Cut your taxes"; *Question did not include "substantially"; **"Keep the federal budget balanced"|
In general, Americans' predictions for the Biden administration are somewhat less optimistic than they were for Barack Obama in 2008 but more optimistic than they were in 2016 when Donald Trump won the election and in 2001 when George W. Bush was sworn in.
Expectations of Biden's administration are significantly higher than they were for Trump's on seven of the policy areas, including the environment, education, increasing respect from abroad, improving conditions for minorities, the health care system, race relations and keeping the U.S. out of war.
Yet, Americans were more likely to think the Trump administration would accomplish five of the goals than think Biden will -- reducing unemployment, improving the economy, controlling illegal immigration and reducing the deficit. In fact, the 28% who think Biden will substantially reduce the deficit is the lowest on record for a president in his first term since 1980.
The public's expectations that Biden will keep the U.S. safe from terrorism, heal political divisions in the country and reduce the crime rate are about the same as they were for Trump.
Biden is taking office at a challenging time for the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge across the country, and the nation's economy is in a fragile state. Despite this, majorities of Americans think that the new administration will be able to accomplish a wide range of policy goals that relate to the pandemic in some way. These include improving the economy, education, conditions for minorities and the health care system, as well as reducing unemployment.
A majority also trust Biden will improve race relations, another area of deep concern for the U.S. last year. Yet, after a divisive election amid sharp partisan polarization, the public is largely unconvinced that the incoming administration will be able to heal the political divisions that exist in the country. Americans will surely be watching closely to see if Biden is able to work with Republicans to help America move past the pandemic and its ill effects.
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