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Americans Like What’s In The Build Back Better Act. They’re Lukewarm On The Bill Itself.

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.


It looks like Democrats’ legislative agenda will have to wait until 2022. It no longer appears that the Build Back Better Act, a $1.75 trillion social-services bill that passed the House last month, will pass the Senate by Christmas, the deadline that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had hoped to hit.

In what is surely becoming a familiar point of contention among Democrats at this point, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has once again thwarted their ambitions. Negotiations over the Build Back Better Act apparently stalled due to the cost of extending the child tax credit, a payment to families with children that research indicates reduced child poverty in 2021. Manchin, whose vote will likely decide whether the Build Back Better Act is able to pass the 50-50 Senate, is reportedly worried that the true cost of the bill is higher than $1.75 trillion because the tax credit, which Build Back Better technically only extends for one year, is likely to continue getting renewed in the future.

In order to cut the true cost of the bill, the bill’s authors could eliminate the child tax credit altogether, but that is a non-starter with most Democrats — and it would be unpopular with the American public too. According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted Dec. 4-6, 53 percent of registered voters support extending the child tax credit for one year, while only 33 percent are opposed.

It’s not clear how big of a deal it will be to most Americans that the vote on the Build Back Better Act is delayed, but support for the bill at this point isn’t overwhelming. Following the passage of the bill in the House, Morning Consult/Politico’s poll found that 47 percent of registered voters supported the bill and 40 percent opposed it. Similarly, an NPR/Marist Poll conducted Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 found that 41 percent of adults supported the bill, while 34 percent said they opposed it. 

There are certain parts of the bill that are very appealing to Americans, though — namely, expanded health care access. In fact, when Morning Consult/Politico asked respondents to select the five most important provisions in the bill, four of the five top issues were health care-related.1 For instance, the House version of the bill adds $150 billion over 10 years in funding for Medicaid home care for seniors and people with disabilities — the largest increase in funding for this program since its creation. According to Morning Consult/Politico, more registered voters said this funding was an important component of the bill than any other — and a whopping 76 percent of registered voters supported it.

The second biggest priority in the bill per Morning Consult was allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, which 71 percent of registered voters supported. In addition, 65 percent supported more funding for affordable housing, and 75 percent supported the expansion of Medicaid to cover hearing services.

With negotiations stalled, it no longer looks like any of these provisions will become law before the end of the year. However, the Build Back Better Act is far from doomed. There is still a year left in the 117th Congress, and it’s entirely possible that Manchin and other Democrats will reach a compromise and pass a version of this bill soon. Provided Democrats keep many of the bill’s health care provisions, it could still prove to be a popular bill for Democrats in the end, too.

Other polling bites

  • Shortages and inflation are affecting how some Americans are shopping for the holidays. Americans found that more often items have been out of stock in stores (46 percent) and online (41 percent), per a recent Monmouth University poll. Yet Americans were split when it came to cutting back on gift shopping due to high prices, with 48 percent purchasing gifts as normal and 40 percent cutting back on purchases at least a little.
  • Even with a surge of omicron now expected in the U.S., many Americans don’t plan to change how they celebrate this holiday season. Only 23 percent of Americans said they were likely to cancel their holiday travel plans, according to a December Axios/Ipsos poll. And many still plan to gather with friends and family who live outside their household, with 59 percent saying it was not very likely or not at all likely they would stop these social gatherings.
  • Nevertheless, Americans are starting to worry about engaging in daily activities again. According to another Ipsos/Axios poll, concern about the health risks of traveling on an airplane and returning to a normal, pre-COVID-19 life had been on a steady decline for a few months, but they spiked back up in December, to 68 percent and 52 percent, respectively.
  • A strong majority of American parents thought having a stable partner (86 percent) and job security (80 percent) were very or extremely important when deciding whether to have a child, per a recently released University of Chicago/AP-NORC poll. And more women (47 percent) than men (36 percent) saw having a child as an obstacle for job security. Mothers were more likely than fathers to say they did most or all of responsibilities such as managing a child’s schedule (56 percent of mothers, compared with 10 percent of fathers) and handling household chores and meals (68 percent of mothers, compared with 18 percent of fathers).
  • Taylor Swift’s rumored ex-boyfriends — of whom she frequently sings — are often the target of online harassment, and a plurality of Americans think that’s the fault of “Swifties,” or Swift fans, according to a recent Morning Consult poll. Thirty-three percent of American adults said Swift fans were most responsible for the harassment, while 22 percent blamed Swift herself and 19 percent blamed the media. Notably, even a plurality of Swift fans (36 percent) also blamed Swifties for the harassment.

Biden approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker,2 43.7 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 50.7 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -7.0 points). At this time last week, 42.6 percent approved and 51.0 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -8.4 points). One month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 42.8 percent and a disapproval rating of 51.7 percent, for a net approval rating of -8.8 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot,3 Republicans currently lead Democrats by 1.2 percentage points (43.1 percent to 41.8 percent). A week ago, Republicans led Democrats by 0.5 points (43.0 percent to 42.5 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Republicans by 0.3 points (42.4 percent to 42.1 percent).

Footnotes

  1. Respondents were given a list of 16 provisions as well as the option to select “none of these.”

  2. As of 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

  3. As of 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

Mackenzie Wilkes was a politics intern at FiveThirtyEight.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.

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