Public Opinion on Coronavirus and The Vote: Navigator Update

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted October 15-19, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • The pandemic continues to dominate negative conversation around Trump and remains the top issue for Americans.
  • Growing shares say the number of new cases is increasing at both the state and national level, and a majority say the pandemic is “out of control.”
  • Americans worry most about Trump’s ignoring of experts, failure to prepare, and downplaying the pandemic, and most trust Fauci to make decisions over the president.

Trump Underwater on Range of Metrics

Trump’s approval ratings are in the negative on everything from the economy to handling the pandemic.

  • Among independents, Trump is at -4 on the economy (43% approve/47% disapprove), and on the pandemic, is underwater by 32 points (31% approve/63% disapprove).

Coronavirus Dominates Last Four Months of Negatives on Trump

Among those hearing mostly negative or a mix of positive and negative things on Trump this week (77%), coronavirus continues to dominate the conversation, consistent across the news cycles of the last four months on the president.

Pandemic Remains Top Concern for Most Americans

Nearly three in five say the pandemic is one of the top issues the President and Congress should be focused on.

  • Jobs and the economy (45%) and health care (42%) also remain top issues on which Americans feel the President and Congress should be focusing.

Nearly Three in Ten Know Someone Who Has Died from Coronavirus and Three in Five Someone Who Has Been Sick

With total U.S. coronavirus cases exceeding eight million and a death toll greater than 222,000, a majority know someone who has been infected and a quarter know someone who has died from it.

  • Democrats, Hispanic Americans, and Black Americans are the groups most likely to know someone who has been infected and who has died from complications related to coronavirus.

More Than Half Still Say “Worst is Yet to Come” in Pandemic

As cases continue to rise in states across the country, a majority ofAmericans say the “worst is yet to come,” while less than three in ten say the “worst is over.”

  • Among independents, 56% say the “worst is yet to come” in the pandemic and 21% say the “worst is over.”

In Last Week, Near Double-Digit Increase in Those Saying Cases are Rising

Now, nearly two in three say new cases in the country are increasing, up 9 points in a week, while a majority say the same about the number of new cases in their state, up 7 points.

  • There are notable geographical differences: while 48% of those in Western states and 52% in Northeastern and Southern states respectively say cases are rising in their state, 70% of those in Midwestern states say the same.

Majority Say Coronavirus is “Out of Control”

Nearly three in five say the pandemic is “out of control,” with three in ten saying it is “totally out of control.”

  • Republicans (65%) and white Americans (40%) are the most likely to say the pandemic is “under control.”
  • At least three in five independents, Hispanic Americans, Black Americans, and Democrats believe that the pandemic is “out of control.”

Top Indicators Pandemic is Out of Control: Single Day Records Across Country, 8 Million Cases, 222,000 Fatalities

Among those who say the pandemic is not under control, majorities say a range of items are “clearly a sign” the pandemic is out of control.

Majority See Trump as “Not Doing Enough” on Pandemic

Nearly three in five say Trump is “not doing enough” on handling the pandemic, consistent with the level who said the same mid-July during the surge in new cases that took place in the U.S. this summer.

  • On a separate question, 54% say they trust their state and local government more to handle the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, while just 32% say they trust Trump and the federal government more.

Americans Have a Favorable View of Dr. Fauci Across Parties, Trust Him More Than Trump on Coronavirus

Three in five have a favorable opinion of Dr. Fauci, including nearly two in five who have a “very favorable” opinion.

  • Even among Republicans, 43% have a favorable view of Dr. Fauci and 29% trust him more than Trump to make decisions and share information about the state of coronavirus.
  • Donald Trump is at net -14 on favorability this week (42% favorable/56% unfavorable).

Few Voters Think Fauci Has Praised Trump, and Majority Say Fauci Thinks Trump Has Done a Bad Job on Pandemic

Two in five say Fauci has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and another three in five think Dr. Fauci believes Trump has done a bad job on coronavirus.

  • Nearly equal shares of Democrats (45%) and Republicans (41%) feel Fauci has been outspoken in his criticism.

Pandemic Tops List of Americans’ Greatest Concerns About Trump’s Performance as President

Among those who do not strongly approve of Trump’s handling of his job as president, nearly half say they are most concerned about Trump’s handling of the pandemic as cases continue to rise nationally.

Top Concerns on Trump’s Handling of Pandemic: Ignoring Experts, Failing to Prepare, Downplaying Threat

Consistent across Navigator’s tracking since March, the top concerns on Trump’s handling of the pandemic focus on three items: his ignoring of experts, failing to prepare for the pandemic, and downplaying the threat of the virus.