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How Americans feel about Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration

Americans give Biden good marks on presidential transition — but Republicans still believe Trump’s voter fraud lies.

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware on January 16.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will start his term on Wednesday with a far higher approval rating than President Donald Trump — but with little support among Republican voters, who remain largely bought into Trump’s election fraud lies.

That’s according to new polls this week from CNN and SSRS, the Washington Post and ABC News, and NBC News.

According to the Post and ABC, fully two-thirds of Americans — about 67 percent — approve of how Biden has run his presidential transition, which has been repeatedly stymied by the Trump administration. By comparison, just 40 percent approved of Trump’s transition effort in 2016.

Prior transitions — those of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — all polled substantially higher than either Biden or Trump, but Biden faces greater headwinds with a Republican Party still devoted to Trump, who has yet to formally acknowledge Biden as the winner of the 2020 election (though Trump has said he will support the transition).

Biden’s transition also had a slow start after his victory last November. Though virtually every major outlet had called the race in his favor by November 7 — the Saturday after the presidential election — the head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, delayed issuing a letter of ascertainment until November 23.

As a result, the Biden team had to wait more than two weeks after Election Day for access to federal transition funding — and even after clearing that hurdle, Biden transition director Yohannes Abraham said last month that the Biden team had “encountered obstruction” from Trump appointees at multiple agencies.

Despite those obstacles, not only did Biden’s transition get better marks than Trump’s, but 49 percent of Americans say they are “confident that [Biden] will make the right decisions for the country’s future” — 14 percent more than said the same about Trump before he took office in January 2017, according to the Post-ABC poll.

What’s more, more Americans — 53 percent — are confident of Biden’s ability to get the Covid-19 pandemic under control than they are of his performance on any other issue.

Biden has promised to administer 100 million vaccine doses within his first 100 days in office, and this week proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief and economic stimulus plan.

Still, Biden will face major hurdles, even aside from what incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain termed America’s “overlapping and compounding crises” in a Saturday memo sketching Biden’s early agenda, once he takes office.

Notably, a CNN-SSRS poll finds that just 65 percent of Americans believe Biden “legitimately won” the election. Three-quarters, or 75 percent, of Republicans either suspect that Biden did not win legitimately, or believe that there is “solid evidence” he did not. (There is no such evidence; after dozens of lawsuits, Republicans have turned up no evidence of meaningful voter fraud in the 2020 election).

The same holds true in the Post-ABC poll, which found that 7 in 10 Republicans questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s election.

According to NBC, however, Biden beats out Trump in terms of his overall favorability rating: 44 percent of registered voters feel favorably toward Biden, while just 40 percent feel favorably toward Trump (and other polls have shown Trump with still lower approval ratings).

Trump’s net favorability is in even worse shape: 53 percent of registered voters have a negative opinion of the outgoing president, putting his net favorability at -13 percentage points compared to +4 points for Biden.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also outperforms Vice President Mike Pence in favorability by a slim three-point margin, according to the same NBC poll, and the Democratic Party stacks up even better against the Republican Party: While only 29 percent of registered voters feel favorably toward the GOP, 39 percent feel favorably toward the Democratic Party.

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