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 1,011 registered voters conducted April 13-April 16, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Ratings of Trump’s overall performance and handling of the pandemic have fallen to lows in our daily tracking, while governors retain high levels of support.
  • Although a majority wants Trump to lead a coordinated, national response to the pandemic, most feel that governors and states have taken the lead.
  • The vast majority of the public supports the economic relief bills passed by Congress so far, though there’s some concern relief will mostly benefit the wealthy.

Trump Approval Falling Back to Pre-Crisis Levels

Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to -10, a new low in our daily tracking, and in line with his overall approval rating before the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Among independents, Trump is at -37 (25% approve/62% disapprove).

Governors Retain High Approval; Trump Dropping

Donald Trump’s approval rating on handling the coronavirus pandemic dropped to a new low, while state governors maintain significantly higher approval ratings.

  • The majority of Americans (52%) say they disapprove of Trump’s handling, the highest yet in our daily tracking.
  • Independents are substantially more likely approve of their governor’s handling (56% approve/17% disapprove) than Donald Trump’s handling (30% approve/55% approve).

Public Hearing More Bad Than Good on Trump’s Handling

Americans are increasingly learning more negative things about Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Republicans who watch Fox News are driving the small share that still says they see mostly positive coverage – 44% of Fox News Republicans report hearing mostly positive, compared to 23% of Republicans who don’t watch Fox News, 11% of independents, and 7% of Democrats.

Americans Trust State & Local Government on Social Distancing Decisions

A majority of Americans trust state and local government more than Trump to decide when social distancing measures should end.

  • State and local government is more trusted than President Trump and the federal government by 47 points overall, 44 points among independents, and even 9 points among Republicans.
  • Among those who are “mixed on Trump,” 69% trust state and local government more.

Public Wants Trump to Lead, But Don’t Think He’s Leading

A majority of Americans believe that Trump should be leading the national response on distributing medical supplies, but nearly half think that he has been doing the opposite.

Vast Majority Supports the Pandemic Relief Bills

More than eight in ten Americans support the pandemic relief bills that have been passed so far.

  • A majority of Americans (62%) believe that the government will “mostly” or “somewhat” succeed in getting economic help to where it is needed most, though only 37% of independents say the same.

Americans Split on Who Stands to Benefit from Relief

Americans are split on whether the relief bills will help all types of people or benefit wealthy and big corporations.

  • While a plurality of Americans (48%) believe that the relief bills will help all types of people and businesses, this sentiment is being largely driven by Republicans (66%).
  • On the other hand, a plurality of independents (43%) and Democrats (49%) believe that the relief bills will give too much to the wealthy and big corporations.

Democrats Leading on Perceived Support for Middle Class

A plurality of Americans feel Donald Trump’s economic response favors the wealthy and big corporations, while a plurality feel congressional Democrats’ policies favor middle and working class people.

  • Independents are 11 points more likely to say that Democrats’ policies favor the middle class than Donald Trump’s.