For Trump, 68% oppose a self-pardon; Biden receives positive marks for transition: POLL

Still, Biden trails other recent presidents on how he's handled the transition.

January 17, 2021, 9:00 AM

Ahead of his inauguration, Americans by more than a 40-point margin approve of the way Joe Biden has handled the presidential transition -- but just half are confident he'll make the right decisions for the country's future, with muted expectations for his progress on key issues.

As to the man he's replacing, 68% in this ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose President Donald Trump pardoning himself for any federal crimes he may be accused of committing. And 58% support Twitter's ban on Trump, muzzling the outgoing president on his main platform.

Trump leaves office awash in controversy, as seen in results from this poll reported Friday. Biden enters on a better note: Two-thirds in this survey, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, approve of how he's handled the transition. That's 27 percentage points higher than Trump four years ago.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

Still, Biden's grades for handling the transition, while well above Trump's, trail those of other recent presidents. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush saw 80 to 82% approval ratings for their transition work. George W. Bush received 72%.

Similarly, the 49% who express confidence in Biden to make the right decisions fall in between the same readings for the past two presidents -- lower than it was for Obama as he came into office, 61%, while higher than it was for Trump four years ago, 35%.

In another measure, despite Trump's unsupported allegations of widespread voter fraud, Americans see Biden as the legitimate winner of November's presidential election by an almost 2-to-1 margin, 62%-32%. But there are wide partisan divides: Seven in 10 Republicans and 6 in 10 conservatives say Biden did not legitimately win. The opposite view is held by 62% of independents, 71% of moderates and 93% of both Democrats and liberals.

On the issues

Like views on his decision-making overall, the public expresses middling confidence in Biden's ability to make progress on a variety of issues, ranging from 53% on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control to 44% both on dealing with global warming and "negotiating compromises with the Republicans in Congress on important issues."

In the middle, about half express a great deal or good amount of confidence in Biden to address three other issues he's emphasized: rebuilding the economy, addressing unequal treatment of people because of their race or ethnicity and improving America's standing in the world.

Unsurprisingly, the partisan gaps in these expectations are vast. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats have a great deal or good amount of confidence in Biden making the right decisions overall -- dropping to 43% of independents and 12% of Republicans.

Within his party, confidence is lowest for dealing with global warming, at 73%. Among Republicans, confidence peaks, at a mere 20%, for his making progress on addressing unequal treatment of people because of their race or ethnicity.


Views on Trump are detailed extensively in Friday's report, including the finding that 54% of Americans say he should be charged with a crime for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Further, Americans, by a 40-point margin, 68%-28%, oppose Trump issuing a presidential pardon to himself in an attempt to forestall prosecution for any federal crimes he may be accused of having committed.

In addition to the expected partisan and ideological differences, opposition to a self-pardon is particularly high – 91% – among the two-thirds of Americans who say Trump has acted irresponsibly since the election. And it's 95% among those who say he should be charged criminally.

Tweet no more?

Lastly, there's the issue of the president's Twitter lockout. Americans, by 58%-41%, support Twitter's permanent shutdown of Trump's account. Almost half, 48%, strongly support the decision, while 36% strongly oppose it.

Partisanship and ideology again inform these views. In other divides, two-thirds of women support Twitter shutting down Trump's account, compared with half of men. And among those who think Trump has acted irresponsibly since the election in November, 83% support the Twitter ban, as do 92% of those who favor charging him with the crime of inciting a riot.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 10 to 13, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, including design effects. Partisan divisions are 31%-25%-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md. See details on the survey's methodology here.

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