Congress, Biden, Gaza, and China: key results from the Nov. 18-20, 2023 Economist/YouGov Poll

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
November 22, 2023, 7:08 PM GMT+0

This week’s Economist/YouGov poll covers Americans' views on Congress, Biden's job performance and handling of specific issues, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and the China-U.S. deal on fentanyl.


  • Americans are dissatisfied with Congress overall, and with each chamber. Congress is especially unpopular with Republicans.
  • Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to strongly or somewhat disapprove of how the Democratic-controlled Senate is handling its job (79% vs. 30%), and also more likely than Democrats to disapprove of the way the Republican-controlled House is performing (66% vs. 56%).
  • Only 6% of Americans say Congress has accomplished more than usual at this point in its two-year term; 46% — including 44% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans — say it has accomplished less than usual.
  • Nearly twice as many Americans who think Congress has accomplished less than usual blame Republicans more for this than blame Democrats more (37% vs. 20%). Three times as many blame the House more than the Senate than blame the Senate more (30% vs. 9%), though 54% blame both equally.
  • Among Americans who think Congress has accomplished less than usual, almost no Republicans blame their party more than they blame the Democrats (1% do, compared to 2% of Democrats who blame Democrats more).
  • Most Republicans like the new Republican House Speaker, Mike Johnson. By 61% to 11%, they strongly or somewhat approve of how Johnson is handling his new job.
  • One Republican disliked by most Republicans is New York Representative George Santos. By 53% to 17%, Republicans see Santos very or somewhat unfavorably — similar to opinion of Santos among Americans overall (56% to 18%).

How Biden is doing

  • 40% of Americans strongly or somewhat approve of how President Joe Biden is handling his job; 54% disapprove.
  • Similar shares approve and disapprove of how Biden is handling specific issues. Less than 40% approve of his handling of inflation/prices, immigration, crime, criminal justice reform, and the Israel-Hamas war.
  • About 40% approve of Biden’s performance on education, jobs and the economy, national security, the Russia-Ukraine war, and foreign policy in general.
  • Because fewer Americans have an opinion on Biden's handling of specific issues than of his job performance overall, more disapprove of his overall work than of his handling of most specific issues. Inflation and immigration are the exceptions.

Russia-Ukraine war

  • Three in four Americans have unfavorable views of Russia President Vladimir Putin. Opinions of Putin are similar among Democrats and Republicans.
  • While Democrats overwhelmingly like Ukraine President Vlodymyr Zelensky — 64% are favorable, 19% unfavorable — Republicans are torn: 39% favorable, 36% unfavorable.
  • Americans are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Ukraine, not Russia, in the war between the two countries. Only 18% say most or all of Russia’s attacks have been aimed at military, not civilian, targets; 40% say that about Israel’s targets in Gaza.
  • Americans are divided on which side is currently winning the Russia-Ukraine war.
  • As many Americans would decrease U.S. military aid to Ukraine as increase it.
  • Nearly three in four Americans would support a ceasefire in the Russia-Ukraine conflict now.

Israel-Hamas War

  • Majorities support a tactical pause in the Israel-Hamas war and an immediate cease-fire there. Israel and Hamas recently came to an agreement that would pause fighting for four days.
  • In the Israel-Hamas conflict, a plurality of 39% are more sympathetic to Israel; 29% sympathize equally with Israel and the Palestinians and 11% sympathize mostly with the Palestinians.
  • As with Ukraine, as many Americans would decrease military aid to Israel as increase it.

China and Fentanyl

  • 87% of Americans say it is a good thing that President Joe Biden and China president Xi Jinping agreed at their recent meeting to a crackdown on Chinese companies producing chemicals for fentanyl. Most say it will make a small (47%) or a big (15%) difference in slowing the fentanyl epidemic. Only 15% say it will make a big difference.
  • Who’s to blame for the fentanyl epidemic? 71% put a lot of blame on drug dealers, while about half place a lot of blame on each of China and Mexico, followed by pharmaceutical companies, fentanyl addicts themselves, and the federal government. Only 17% place a lot of blame on doctors.

People and groups in the news

Each week, we ask Americans how they feel about selected political and non-political figures and groups. Below, we present the net favorability of each of the people and groups asked about this week, calculated by subtracting the percentage of Americans who view them very or somewhat unfavorably from the percentage who view them very or somewhat favorably. Americans with no opinion of each are not included in the calculations. Figures may not add up precisely because of rounding:

  • President and vice president
    • Joe Biden: -10 net (44% view favorably, 53% unfavorably)
    • Kamala Harris: -11 net (40% view favorably, 51% unfavorably)
  • Political figures
    • Donald Trump: -10 net (43% view favorably, 53% unfavorably)
    • George Santos: -39 net (18% view favorably, 56% unfavorably)
  • Business leaders
    • Elon Musk: +7 net (48% view favorably, 40% unfavorably)
    • Sam Altman: -1 net (16% view favorably, 17% unfavorably)
  • World leaders
    • Volodymyr Zelensky: +19 net (46% view favorably, 27% unfavorably)
    • Benjamin Netanyahu: +4 net (36% view favorably, 32% unfavorably)
    • David Cameron: -2 net (21% view favorably, 23% unfavorably)
    • Rishi Sunak: -6 net (17% view favorably, 22% unfavorably)
    • Xi Jinping: -44 net (13% view favorably, 57% unfavorably)
    • Vladimir Putin: -63 net (13% view favorably, 76% unfavorably)
  • Political parties in Congress
    • Democrats in Congress: -12 net (39% view favorably, 51% unfavorably)

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty