Biden’s First 100 Days

Commentary by Mark Schulman, SSRS Senior Research Consultant  |  January 27, 2021

Since the first days that Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat in the oval office facing the most crippling economic calamity in the nation’s history, the “first hundred days” has taken on outsized significance in predicting an administration’s future success, particularly in difficult times.

A new SSRS national poll, conducted January 19-24, finds that Joe Biden’s election injected a shot of optimism among Democrats and Independents that his administration’s first 100 days can successfully begin to address many of the overarching issues facing America. However, on most issues, Republicans deliver a mixed, but not hopelessly bleak verdict on how much progress Biden will achieve in his first 100 days.

Even as Biden’s rash of executive orders and legislative proposals have begun to address many of these pressing campaign issues, the blue-red divide does surface in every major area, from COVID relief to affordable health care, but not in the extreme. Here are some of the findings.

  • On the overarching issue of controlling COVID, 8 in 10 Democrats (81%) and most independents (69%) believe that Biden will be “very” or “somewhat” successful. By contrast, only about 1 in 3 (36%) Republicans express optimism. Among Baby Boomers and those older Americans, cohorts most impacted by COVID, about 2 in 3 are optimistic.

On other issues, the Republican judgements are not as extreme.

  • As Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and took other actions to strengthen the nation’s environmental laws, Republicans are more divided. Almost half of Republicans (44%) see Biden likely to be successful, but with an almost equal number (42%) disagreeing. Most Democrats (89%) and Independents (75%) predict success.
  • With Biden already reopening the Affordable Care Act plans for new registrants as a first step in expanding health care, most Democrats (85%) and Independents (73%) predict success for Biden. Almost half of Republicans (47%) expect him to succeed.
  • On relief for small businesses that suffered during the pandemic, almost half of Republicans (48%) expect Biden to succeed, compared to 92% of Democrats and 79% of Independents. Biden has already proposed legislation to provide COVID relief.

And on what had been an explosive divide during the Presidential campaign – a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, immigrant children brought to the United States – over half of Republicans (58%) see Biden as likely successful.  More than 8 in 10 Democrats (87%) and Independents (82%) expect Biden to fulfill this campaign pledge early in his administration. Biden has already proposed legislation that would provide a citizenship path and immigration reform.

Mark Schulman, Ph.D., a veteran of the polling industry, has worked extensively with the news media and served as Time magazine’s pollster for almost ten years. He is a former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and has been interviewed by many news media outlets including CNN, Fox News, Vice Media/HBO, Time Magazine and the BBC.