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Polls show Biden reaping solid approval ratings with popular policies

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden reacts as he delivers remarks on the Department of Labor's March jobs report from the State Dining Room at the White House on April 2, 2021.Erin Scott / Reuters file

WASHINGTON — In the last 48 hours, we’ve seen four different national polls that all show President Biden’s approval rating above water — with the highest (Pew) at 59 percent approve, 39 percent disapprove, and with the lowest (Quinnipiac) at 48 percent approve, 42 percent disapprove.

It’s a break with former President Donald Trump, whose job rating remained mostly underwater during his presidency, even in his first 100 days on the job.

And one of the reasons why Biden is staying above water is that almost everything he’s deliberately tried to make part of his agenda during his honeymoon period is popular.

That Covid-19 relief law? It remains widely popular. (A Monmouth poll finds 63 percent of Americans supporting it, including 43 percent who do so strongly.)

His infrastructure plan? It pretty much matches his job rating in the Quinnipiac and NPR/PBS/Marist surveys.

Increased taxes for corporations and Americans making more than $400,000? Popular.

What about making long-term health care part of his infrastructure plan? NPR/PBS/Marist shows 58 percent of Americans believing that this is part of the country’s infrastructure, versus 39 percent who don’t.

The exceptions to Biden’s popular agenda are his Afghanistan withdrawal (where the polling has been more mixed than you might expect for a 20-year war) and Biden’s unpopular handling of the border (which wasn’t something he put on his early to-do list, but which is now something he clearly owns).

Bottom line: Biden has been careful not to push policies that aren’t significantly popular with the public. (In fact, more controversial proposals to expand the Supreme Court and advance reparations bills are not coming from the White House.)

And that’s a reversal from the last four years, when the focus was on appealing to the base rather than to the 50 percent-plus.

Yesterday’s big Russia-related news

There were two big pieces of news yesterday as the Biden slapped sanctions on Russian entities and individuals.

One, it turns out that the intel community has determined that the evidence on that widely reported Russia-Afghanistan-bounty story isn’t conclusive — and that finding cuts against Biden’s rhetoric during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Two, the Biden administration says that a longtime associate of Trump 2016 campaign chief Paul Manafort — Konstantin Kilimnik — gave Russian intelligence agencies “sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,” per CNBC.

And that assertion on the 2016 polling goes further than the Mueller investigation or the Senate Intel Committee determined.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

At least 8: The number of people shot at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis last night.

63 percent: The share of Americans who say that a “not guilty” verdict for Derek Chauvin would have a negative effect on race relations, according to a new Monmouth poll.

31,633,796: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 71,850 more than yesterday morning.)

569,218: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 792 more than yesterday morning.)

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

NBC’s Carol Lee reports on how some elite members of the military are swapping extremist sentiments in exclusive Facebook groups.

Biden is calling for a de-escalation of tensions with Russia after a fresh round of sanctions.

Republicans are struggling to write a counteroffer to Biden’s infrastructure plan.

What are rank-and-file police officers saying about the Chauvin trial?

Mike Pence got a pacemaker.

The Florida Senate has passed a controversial anti-riot bill.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has reached a settlement of at least $62,500 with a former campaign staffer who accused her of sexual harassment.