WASHINGTON – The overwhelming majority of Americans — about 8 in 10 — favor plans to increase funding for roads, bridges and ports and for pipes that supply drinking water. But that’s about as far as Democrats and Republicans intersect on infrastructure, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
President Joe Biden has bet that his handshake with a group of Republican senators can help power a $973 billion infrastructure deal through Congress, while Democrats would separately take up a $3.5 trillion proposal that could include money for child tax credits, schools, health care and other priorities. The dual-track approach has produced plenty of drama and uncertainty in Washington as negotiations continue, and those divisions seem to extend to the public at large.
The poll finds a slim majority of Americans, 55%, approve of Biden’s handling of infrastructure; 42% disapprove. About 8 in 10 Democrats, but just 2 in 10 Republicans, approve of Biden on infrastructure.
“I like what he’s done so far,” said Marcos Ommati, 54, who lives in Arlington, Virginia, and edits a military magazine. “The infrastructure plan that he put out there, I think we need that desperately. If you drive around any places in the U.S., you see that the bridges are not in top shape.”
After the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package jumpstarted the economy — possibly creating the risk of inflation — the administration trusts that many voters will cast their ballots in next year’s election on infrastructure and other spending initiatives aimed at helping the economy.
There is general support for strengthening the electric grid, which has been battered this year by a deep freeze in Texas and extreme weather in recent months across the rest of the country. Many of the other infrastructure ideas championed by Biden splinter along party lines, with Republicans largely expressing uncertainty or opposition about many proposals.