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Public Wants Stimulus Checks More Than GOP Support for Plan

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Majority back jobless benefits, wage hike, some college debt relief; Negative views of Biden, Congress rise

West Long Branch, NJ – More than 6 in 10 Americans support the Covid stimulus bill being considered by Congress, according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. While many Americans would be willing to entertain cuts in the overall $1.9 trillion spending plan in order to gain Republican votes in the Senate, most say the $1,400 per person direct payments are off-limits. There is also widespread support for extending additional jobless benefits and majority support for raising the minimum wage. Outside the current bill, there is majority support for limited college debt relief. The poll also finds that President Joe Biden’s job rating has gotten slightly more negative since he first took office and ratings for Congress and the direction of the country have also declined since late January.

Biden currently holds a 51% job approval rating, down slightly from the 54% mark he held in late January. His disapproval rating has climbed to 42% from 30% just days into his term. The shift comes as more Americans form an opinion of the new president, with “no opinion” going from 16% in late January to 8% now. Biden gets a 91% approval rating from Democrats (similar to 90% in January) and an 80% disapproval rating among Republicans (up from 70%). Independents are now divided at 43% approve and 48% disapprove, compared with their net positive rating (47% to 30%) of Biden in January.

The poll also finds the job rating for Congress at 30% approve and 59% disapprove and views of the nation’s trajectory at 34% who say it is headed in the right direction and 61% saying it is on the wrong track. Both ratings were slightly better in January: 35% approve to 51% disapprove for Congress and 42% right direction to 51% wrong track for the country. The prior poll’s results were a historical high in eight years of national polling by Monmouth. While the current ratings have declined, they remain on the higher end of the range across which they have fluctuated since 2013.

“It’s probably not a surprise that Biden’s honeymoon period has closed quickly. He does maintain a net positive rating, but the Covid stimulus package will be the first significant test of how stable that support is,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Just over 6 in 10 (62%) Americans support the $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package currently making its way through Congress, while 34% oppose it. Strong support registers at 35% of the public while strong opposition stands at 23%. Overall support for the plan comes from 92% of Democrats and 56% of independents, but just 33% of Republicans.

Most Americans are satisfied with one key component of the package – the $1,400 per person payments to individuals and families who meet certain income levels. A majority (53%) say this amount is about right. Another 28% would like to see larger payments and just 14% want smaller payments.

Another aspect of the stimulus plan – increasing additional unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 per week and extending them through the summer – receives support from 67% of Americans. Just 30% are opposed to an extension of jobless aid.

A majority (53%) of the public also supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, while 45% are opposed to this. The minimum wage hike was included in the House bill passed last week but is likely to be stripped from the Senate version due to a parliamentary ruling.

“Even though the decision to jettison the minimum wage hike is largely out of Democrats’ hands, one lesson from 2009’s recovery bill is that you don’t get much credit if it is seen as a half measure. The question is whether the minimum wage hike is considered essential. It will be interesting to see how public opinion reacts to the final legislation, both in the short-term and the long-term,” said Murray.

The bill passed by the House did not garner any Republican votes. It will almost certainly face the same fate in the Senate without significant changes. Looking at the plan as a whole, the public is evenly divided on whether the $1.9 trillion amount should be cut in order to gain bipartisan support (48%) or whether the full plan should remain intact even if it only gets support from senators in one party (45%).

Preference for bipartisanship plummets, though, when the public is asked this same tradeoff about the direct stimulus checks specifically. Willingness to make cuts to this component of the bill in the name of bipartisanship stands at just 25%. Two in three (68%) Americans say the full $1,400 amount should remain even if it means the bill will pass with just single-party support. Even most Republicans (53%) join independents (65%) and Democrats (85%) in saying the $1,400 payments should be left untouched.

Those who are favorable toward cutting the stimulus plan’s overall price tag in order to obtain bipartisan support are evenly divided, though, when it comes specifically to cutting the $1,400 direct payments. Among those who prefer cuts to the $1.9 trillion bill as a whole, 46% say they would not support reducing the direct relief payment amount. A similar 44% say they would support cutting the $1,400 figure in the name of bipartisanship.

“Bipartisanship sounds great on paper, but a $1,400 check sounds even better,” said Murray. He added, “It would be a mistake to look at these numbers and assume GOP legislators will pay a price for their opposition. They know that the checks will reach their base regardless and they can continue to rail against Democratic excesses. There would only be a problem if they somehow managed to sink the bill.”

Congressional Republicans have tried to weaken public support for the stimulus by saying that it will allow individual states to prolong current restrictions on businesses and social activities. Just 14% feel this is likely to happen as a result of the plan. Most Americans (53%) say the bill will have no impact on when the restrictions will be lifted and another 28% feel the stimulus plan is actually more likely to help states lift restrictions sooner.

Student loan relief is not part of the stimulus bill, but it has been a top concern for progressives. The poll finds fairly widespread backing for canceling $10,000 in college debt for anyone with an outstanding federal loan – 61% support and 37% oppose. However, increasing the amount of debt cancellation to $50,000 per borrower drops public support to 45% and increases opposition to 53%.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from February 25 to March 1, 2021 with 802 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1.Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

  TREND:March
2021
Jan.
2021
Nov.
2020
Early Sept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Right direction34%42%26%27%22%18%21%33%30%39%37%37%
Wrong track61%51%68%66%72%74%74%60%61%54%57%56%
(VOL) Depends4%3%4%4%4%5%4%4%5%4%6%6%
(VOL) Don’t know2%4%2%3%2%3%1%3%5%3%1%1%
(n)(802)(809)(810)(867)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)(902)(903)
  TREND:
Continued
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Right direction32%30%30%28%31%29%28%29%35%35%40%33%31%37%
Wrong track56%61%61%62%62%63%62%63%55%57%53%58%61%57%
(VOL) Depends8%7%6%8%6%4%7%6%7%6%3%5%6%3%
(VOL) Don’t know4%2%2%2%2%3%3%2%3%3%3%4%1%3%
(n)(903)(908)(1,161)(800)(751)(802)(801)(802)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(806)
  TREND:
Continued
Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Aug.
2016*
Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction24%32%31%35%29%30%24%28%23%27%23%28%
Wrong track66%58%61%56%65%65%66%63%68%66%69%63%
(VOL) Depends7%4%5%4%4%2%6%5%5%5%5%5%
(VOL) Don’t know3%5%3%5%2%3%4%3%3%2%3%4%
(n)(806)(805)(1,002)(801)(801)(803)(1,012)(1,001)(1,002)(1,005)(1,008)(1,012)

       * Registered voters

2.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as president?

  TREND:March
2021
Jan.
2021
Approve51%54%
Disapprove42%30%
(VOL) No opinion8%16%
  (n)(802)(809)

3.Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

  TREND:March
2021
Jan.
2021
Approve30%35%
Disapprove59%51%
(VOL) No opinion11%14%
 (n)(802)(809)
  TREND:
Continued

Nov.
2020
Early June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

Feb.
2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.
2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019

Aug.
2019

June
2019

May
2019

April
2019

March
2019

Jan.
2019
Approve23%22%32%32%20%24%22%23%21%17%19%20%24%23%18%
Disapprove64%69%55%55%69%62%65%64%68%71%69%71%62%68%72%
(VOL) No opinion13%9%13%13%11%14%13%13%11%13%12%9%14%9%10%
 (n)(810)(807)(808)(857)(902)(903)(903)(908)(1,161)(800)(751)(802)(801)(802)(805)
  TREND:
Continued
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Approve23%17%19%17%18%21%16%17%18%19%19%25%23%
Disapprove63%69%67%71%72%68%65%69%69%70%68%59%66%
(VOL) No opinion14%14%14%12%11%11%19%15%13%11%13%16%11%
 (n)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(806)(806)(1,009)(805)(800)(1,002)(801)(801)
  TREND:
Continued
Sept.
2016*
Aug.
2016*
June
2016*
March
2016
Jan.
2016
Dec.
2015
Oct.
2015
Sept.
2015
Aug.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Jan.
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Approve15%14%17%22%17%16%17%19%18%18%19%21%18%17%14%
Disapprove77%78%76%68%73%73%71%71%72%69%71%67%70%73%76%
(VOL) No opinion8%9%7%10%10%10%12%11%11%12%10%12%11%11%10%
 (n)(802)(803)(803)(1,008)(1,003)(1,006)(1,012)(1,009)(1,203)(1,001)(1,002)(1,005)(1,003)(1,008)(1,012)

        * Registered voters

4.As you may know, Congress is currently considering a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Have you heard a lot, a little, or nothing at all about this plan?

 March
2021
A lot52%
A little41%
Nothing at all6%
  (n)(802)

5.In general, do you support or oppose this plan? [Is that strongly or somewhat support/oppose?]

 March
2021
Strongly support35%
Somewhat support27%
Somewhat oppose11%
Strongly oppose23%
(VOL) Don’t know4%
  (n)(802)

6.Do you think this plan is more likely to help individual states lift restrictions on business and social activities sooner, is it more likely to prolong the restrictions and lockdowns, or will it have no real impact on when the restrictions will be lifted?

 March
2021
Help lift sooner28%
Prolong14%
No impact53%
(VOL) Don’t know5%
  (n)(802)

7.Republicans in the Senate say they will not support this plan unless the Democratic sponsors make significant cuts to the overall spending amount. Should cuts be made to the plan in order to get bipartisan support or should the full spending plan remain intact even if it only gets support from one party?

 March
2021
Cuts should be made48%
Full plan remain intact45%
(VOL) Depends on amount2%
(VOL) Don’t know6%
  (n)(802)

8.The plan includes a stimulus payment of $1,400 per person to individuals and families who meet certain income levels. Do you think this payment should be larger, should be smaller, or is it about right?

 March
2021
Should be larger28%
Should be smaller14%
Is about right53%
(VOL) Don’t know6%
  (n)(802)

9.Republicans in the Senate say they will only support smaller stimulus payments. Should the amount of the stimulus payments be reduced in order to get bipartisan support, or should the amount remain at $1,400 per person even if it only gets support from one party?

 March
2021
Stimulus payments reduced25%
Amount remain at $1,40068%
(VOL) Depends3%
(VOL) Don’t know4%
  (n)(802)

10.The plan increases additional unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 per week and extends them through the summer. Do you support or oppose this?

 March
2021
Support67%
Oppose30%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
  (n)(802)

11.Do you support or oppose raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour?

 March
2021
Support53%
Oppose45%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
  (n)(802)

[QUESTIONS 12 & 13 WERE ROTATED]

12.Do you support or oppose the federal government canceling $10,000 in college debt for anyone with an outstanding federal student loan?

 March
2021
Support61%
Oppose37%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
  (n)(802)

13.Do you support or oppose the federal government canceling $50,000 in college debt for anyone with an outstanding federal student loan?

 March
2021
Support45%
Oppose53%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
  (n)(802)

[Q14-30 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from February 25 to March 1, 2021 with a national random sample of 802 adults age 18 and older. This includes 281 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 521 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
26% Republican
39% Independent
34% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
30% 18-34
32% 35-54
38% 55+
 
63% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
69% No degree
31% 4 year degree

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs