Americans optimistic about the direction of the country over the next twelve months

New ABC News/Ipsos poll finds Americans split on additional government stimulus vs increased taxes

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 2, 2021

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds Americans are optimistic about the direction of the country over the next twelve months, even as most say the country has not become more unified in the first months of the Biden presidency. As testament to that continued division, Americans are almost evenly split on continued government economic stimulus versus increased taxes with a bare majority (52%) preferring the continued spending. However, when asked about if President Joe Biden and Congressional Republicans have done enough to work across the aisle, half (51%) say Biden has compromised with Republicans about the right amount versus a large majority (67%) who say Republicans have done too little to compromise with the President.

Detailed findings:

1. Americans are optimistic about the next twelve months.

  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of Americans say they are optimistic about the direction of the country over the next twelve months compared to just over a third (36%) who describe themselves as pessimistic.
  • Partisanship appears to be the largest driver of pessimism with Republicans (60%) most likely to say they are pessimistic. Aside from Republicans, no other group appears to be more pessimistic than optimistic.

2. Americans are divided on government spending versus tax increases.

  • About half (52%) of Americans say it is more important right now to have “the federal government spend money to help the economy, even if it increases taxes” versus just under half (47%) who say “keep tax rates the same, even if it means not spending money to help the economy”.
  • Republicans (78%) are most likely to say keeping taxes the same is the more important. Democrats (80%) are most likely to say it is more important to have the government continue to spend money to help the economy.
  • White Americans are split on which is currently more important, but a majority of Americans not identifying as white view federal spending to help the economy as more important.

3. Americans believe President Biden is doing enough to compromise with Republicans in Congress, but Republicans are doing too little to compromise with the President.


  • When asked if “Joe Biden is doing too much, too little, or about the right amount to compromise with the Republican leaders in Congress on important issues”, half of Americans (51%) say the right amount, 9% too much, and 39% too little.
  • When asked the same question about Republican leaders in Congress, only 22% says the right amount, 10% too much, and two-thirds (67%) say too little.
    • Among Republicans, 16% say their leaders have done too much, 37% too little, and 46% the right amount of compromise with Biden on important issues.

About the Study

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted April 30 to May 1, 2021 by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 513 general population adults age 18 or older.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The study was conducted in both English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, and party identification. The demographic benchmarks came from 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau. Party ID benchmarks are from recent ABC News/Washington Post telephone polls. The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.18. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs