End of the honeymoon? Not yet, but Biden faces ‘brewing problems,’ warns Dem pollster

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President Joe Biden remains in his “honeymoon phase,” but as more voters size up the administration on the issues, he faces “some brewing problems,” warns Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, based on a late April survey.

The mood of the American people is generally positive, though still largely divided along partisan lines, according to the poll, conducted April 27-29 among 1,872 registered voters. Democrats feel much better about the trend lines of the country and the economy, but even numbers among Republicans rose 3% in the latter category.

There are three main takeaways from the poll, Penn explained Monday on “Just the News AM.”

First, Americans are optimistic about the country because they are optimistic about the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those polled, 54% credit the perceived improvement in the U.S. economy to the vaccine and not the Biden administration’s policies.

Second, the president remains in his “honeymoon phase” with a 59% overall approval rating — markedly higher than the numbers from less than a month ago. However, that rating is modest by historical standards, cautioned Penn.

People like the administration, but this isn’t a big honeymoon,” he said. “It’s not to Hawaii or anything.” The veteran Democratic pollster recalled that when he worked with former President Bill Clinton he saw approval ratings into the 70s.

Biden‘s honeymoon also looks precarious — Penn’s third takeaway.

“If you look under the surface here, the administration has some brewing problems,” he warned. “Perhaps the biggest is the fact that 85% of voters would prefer stronger borders, and two-thirds reject catch-and-release as a policy.”

Biden is polling weakest on immigration in the April poll — and the issue ranks just behind the coronavirus as the most important problem facing the country today.

Some 80% of voters in the poll regard immigration as a serious issue, and 65% believe Biden‘s policies have encouraged illegal immigration. Those numbers translate into a majority belief that those policies have resulted in an increase of drugs and crime in the United States.

More than two-thirds of those polled think illegal border-crossers should be turned back to Mexico as opposed to released into the country with a court date, and 77% believe the president and the vice president should visit the border now.

Beyond immigration, voters appear to be trending conservative on a range of hot-button topics. Asked if transgender athletes should be able to play on girls’ sports teams, 65% of voters (56% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans) answered “No.” 

Americans would prefer that the oil and gas industries remain in business by a margin of 74% to 26%, and when it come to infrastructure spending, a plurality of 40% of voters want to keep the proposed figure under $1 trillion, which is more in line with the $600-800 billion being floated by Senate Republicans than with the $2.3 trillion sought by Biden. A surprising 24% say they don’t believe in infrastructure spending at all, and 65% want the package passed only with bipartisan support. 

If Mark Penn’s polling is right, Biden‘s honeymoon with the American public isn’t over — but there may be some underlying problems in the relationship. 

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