Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Daily

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 is a dynamic time, and as a result, Navigator will transition to a daily tracking poll on the coronavirus crisis. For the foreseeable future, we will be tracking public opinion every weekday, releasing on a Tuesday-Saturday schedule. In addition, future editions will provide more messaging guidance to the progressive community. 

This edition of our daily tracking release features findings from a national online survey of 997 registered voters conducted April 14-April 17, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s approval ratings continue to drop and hit new lows in our daily tracking.
  • The percentage rating the economy negatively has hit a new high.
  • While a growing number of Americans think “the worst is over,” the vast majority support continued social distancing and believe life won’t return to normal for several months or more.

Trump Approval Ratings Hit New Lows

Trump’s approval ratings on four key issues related to the coronavirus pandemic have hit their lowest points yet in our tracking.

  • Trump’s overall job approval rating has returned to his pre-crisis average, matching his average rating in the 5 months before the pandemic began to spread.
  • This is the first time in our daily tracking that less than 50% approve of Trump’s handling of the economy.

Majority Disapprove of Trump’s Handling of Pandemic

Every single day this week, Trump’s approval rating on handling the coronavirus pandemic has been underwater.

  • A majority of Americans (51%), including 51% of independents, disapprove of Trump’s handling.
  • 40% also say they “strongly disapprove,” a new high in our tracking.

“Worst is Over” Does Not Equal “End Social Distancing”

While an increasing share of Americans believe the “worst is over,” the vast majority want either more aggressive social distancing measures or believe we are currently doing the right amount.

  • Majorities of Democrats (68%) and independents (57%) still think the “worst is yet to come,” while a plurality of Republicans (43%) now think “the worst is over.”

Many Braced for Long Wait Before “Return to Normal”

The majority say it will take either months or until the end of the year for life to return to normal.

  • Less than one in five Republicans (16%) think life will return to normal within the next month.

Perception of the Economy Worst Yet

More than three in four now rate that the economy negatively, a share that continues to climb.

  • 80% of independents and 61% of Republicans rate the economy as “not so good” or “poor.”
  • More Republicans have rated the economy negatively than positively in each of our updates since March 30th.

Share of Americans Who Know Someone Sick Continues to Grow

More than one in four now know someone who has been infected, three times as many as in our first update on March 23.

  • A third of Northeasterners (32%) say they know someone that has been infected, while only 22% of Southerners say the same.

A Mix of Hope, Fear, and Sadness Amidst the Pandemic

Americans say “afraid” and “hopeful” describe how they’re feeling, but there’s a partisan divide. Half of Democrats feel “afraid” while half of Republicans feel “hopeful.”

  • Independents are most likely to say they are ”afraid” (39%), “sad” (37%), and “upset” (36%).