President Biden’s first press conference: 37% say it should have come sooner

March 24, 2021, 5:40 PM GMT+0

President Joe Biden will hold his first press conference since assuming office on Thursday, and for many in the latest Economist/YouGov poll, it’s about time. While President Biden has taken press questions several times, this will be his first formal press conference – and President Biden has been slower to hold a full-scale press conference than his recent predecessors.

Only about half the public say they had heard anything at all about the press conference in the poll, conducted mostly over the weekend. Just 14% claim to have heard “a lot.”

Despite their limited attention, most Americans believe press conferences matter. Four in five say it is important for presidents to hold regular press conferences to take questions from reporters – with 42% saying it is “very” important.

Men (80%), women (80%), those of every race and party allegiance see the conferences as important, though Republicans (52%) are slightly more likely than Democrats (40%) to call them very important.

The public has viewed press conferences as important parts of a president’s role for a long time. In March 1993, at the start of President Bill Clinton’s first term, a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll found similar results. Then, four in five Americans said regular presidential press conferences were very important. Clinton held his first presidential press conference on March 23, 1993. That would be two days earlier in his first term than President Biden’s coming press event.

More than a third of the country (37%) thinks the current President waited too long. But the answers on this are heavily partisan, with two-thirds of Republicans (67%) saying President Biden waited too long, and nearly as many Democrats (60%) claiming he waited the right amount of time. One in four (25%) don’t have an opinion on the timing.

The press conference will take place in the afternoon – so it will not be a prime-time event, like many of Biden’s predecessors’ press conferences. But it is likely to be more viewed in online replays.

President Biden continues to maintain positive ratings from the public. While his approval rating doesn’t match those of some of his predecessors during their first year, it is higher than any approval rating in Economist/YouGov polls for President Donald Trump. Half (50%) today approve of how President Biden is handling his job overall, while 41% disapprove.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

Related: Explore President Joe Biden’s job approval rating

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between March 20 - 23, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample

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