Democrats in Congress are struggling to pass one of President Joe Biden’s signature pieces of legislation. The social spending and climate bill has been whittled down to approximately $1.75 trillion from $3.5 trillion, and it still faces roadblocks to final passage. But that’s not for lack of support for all parts of the bill. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, many of the bill’s provisions and some that have been eliminated have support from the majority of Americans.
While more than half of Americans support many provisions that are now or were in the social spending and climate bill, generally Democrats and Independents account for nearly all of the support. More than half of Democrats and independents favor paid family leave, universal pre-K, free community college, higher taxes collected from the very rich, and funding to reduce energy costs and create clean energy jobs. More than half of Republicans oppose each of those measures.
There is one proposal supported by most Republicans — and it’s also supported by most Democrats and independents. That broadly popular proposal is allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies. This measure — overwhelmingly popular with seniors, who support it, 77% to 10% — has just been restored to the legislation. But neither the requirement that companies provide four weeks of paid family leave nor making tuition free at community colleges remain in the bill. (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added family leave back to the House version of the bill last week.)
Congress has received poor marks from the public for years, and this poll is no exception. Just 15% approve of how Congress is doing its job while 59% disapprove. Democrats, whose party controls both chambers – albeit by the narrowest of margins – also are more likely to disapprove than approve of how Congress is doing its job: 29% of Democrats approve, but 41% disapprove.
However, the Democratic Party enjoys one advantage the Republican Party does not: Its leaders in the House and Senate are both popular within the party, while Republican Congressional leaders receive tepid, or even negative, responses from Republicans nationally. Democrats overwhelmingly approve of the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are handling their jobs. More Republicans approve of how House Minority Leader Keven McCarthy is handling his job than disapprove, but half disapprove of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s job performance.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between October 30 and November 2, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.