Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) are optimistic about the direction of the country in the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel.
The last time the country came close to that level of optimism about the coming year was in December 2006, when 61% said they were optimistic about where the country was headed, according to previous ABC News/Washington Post polls. Shortly before the 2016 election catapulted Donald Trump to the Oval Office, only 42% of Americans were optimistic about the future, compared to 52% who were pessimistic.
But there are some warning lights flashing for the White House. Biden is betting on a lofty agenda to maintain momentum and set up Democrats for success in next year's midterms, while the GOP is hoping that voters perceive an overreach and the president's policies become an electoral anchor.
Only a slim majority (52%) think the federal government should spend to revitalize the economy, even if it raises taxes -- including 80% of Democrats and 54% of independents. The question of government spending and taxes largely divides Americans, with 47% saying taxes should stay at the same level, even at the expense of the economy -- including 78% of Republicans.
After more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, roughly one-third of Americans (36%) still remain pessimistic about the country's future under Biden.
Only about a quarter of Americans (23%) think the country has become more united since Biden took office. Among this group, an overwhelming 87% give Biden credit. Only 3% assigned credit to Republican leaders in Congress, and 10% said both in the poll.
Among the 28% who said the country is more divided, 6 in 10 think Biden is more responsible for the divisions, compared to 34% who say both Biden and Republicans are culpable for sowing division. Only 6% faulted Republicans.
Nearly half of the country (48%) doesn’t see movement on the question of unity since Biden took office, believing the country is neither more united nor more divided. Views on the polarization of the country during Biden's early tenure fall along party lines, with 95% of Democrats saying the country is either more united (45%) or the same (50%), and 97% of Republicans saying the nation is more divided (65%) or the same (32%).
Biden, who developed a reputation as a moderate over decades in the Senate, has shifted his policy priorities leftward as president. In his address before a joint session of Congress this week, he outlined unprecedented investments for his core priorities, while standing undeterred by sharp Republican resistance. And the Democratic Party appears united behind him: 90% of Democrats approved of his job performance in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.
But uncertainty looms over what will be his next legislative achievement, with Biden's political capital split between his enormous infrastructure bill and plans for gun control, immigration, education and child care.
A slim majority of Americans (51%) in the new survey think Biden is compromising about the right amount with congressional Republican leaders on the most pressing issues. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39%) think Biden is doing too little, and only 9% say he is compromising too much.
Republican leaders are viewed more adversely, however. Two-thirds of Americans view GOP leaders in Congress as doing too little to compromise with Biden. Just over 1 in 5 Americans (22%) believe Republicans are doing about the right amount to compromise, and only 10% think they are doing too much.
Biden, for his part, is outperforming his predecessor on this measure. More than half of the country (56%) thought Trump was doing too little to compromise with Democrats in an ABC News/Washington Post poll from September 2017. Meanwhile, current Republican leaders in Congress are slightly underperforming their Democratic counterparts in the Trump era, when 60% of Americans said the Democrats weren't doing enough to compromise with Trump.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® April 30 to May 1, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 513 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.7 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31%-25%-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.
ABC News' Dan Merkle and Ken Goldstein contributed to this report.