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 1,022 registered voters conducted April 17-April 22, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • The overwhelming majority of Americans do not want to prematurely open the government and want a safe reopening when it does happen.
  • Testing, contact tracing, and masks are key elements for Americans to feel comfortable resuming normal activity.
  • Most agree that restarting our economy first requires fixing the health crisis.

Trump Sees New Lows, Especially on Health Care

Trump’s ratings on his handling of his job as president, the issue of health care, and the coronavirus pandemic are all underwater by double digits.

  • Trump’s approval rating of his handling of health care has reached a new low in our daily tracking at -16 (38% approve/54% disapprove), down from -2 on our first update on March 23rd.

Americans Reject Premature Reopening

Despite recent publicity around protests, most Americans oppose reopening in the next few weeks and nearly all support a cautious opening over one that is aggressive.

  • 91% of the public, including 87% of independents and 89% of Republicans, prefer a very or somewhat “cautious opening – opening a handful of businesses and services, but keeping things closed.” Only 6% of the public prefers a very or somewhat “aggressive opening – getting people back to work and normal activity as fast as possible.”

Public Supports Governors Over Protestors, Trump

The majority of Americans support the governors who put in place the stay-at-home orders and disapprove of Trump’s comments about “liberating” these states.

  • The vast majority (83%) of those who don’t “strongly approve” of Trump’s comments say that they are most concerned that they are putting people’s health at risk.

Most Say They Will Stay Inside After Reopening

More than three in four Americans say even if the country is declared open in the coming weeks, they will still spend almost all of their time at home.

  • In a separate question, only 16% Americans say they would go out to restaurants and bars and 9% say they would attend public events and gatherings if the country were to reopen.

Testing, Monitoring, Masks Needed; Not Trump Declarations

Access to testing, contact tracing, and the availability of masks are key elements to Americans feeling comfortable with resuming normal activity, while a declaration from Trump ranks at the bottom of priorities.

  • Only 37% of Americans say Trump’s declaration of reopening would make them more comfortable, including 38% of those that are “mixed on Trump.”

The Public Agrees: Restarting Our Economy Requires Fixing the Health Crisis

More than two-thirds agree that fixing the health crisis first is the key to restarting our economy, rather than restarting our economy as soon as possible to avoid falling deeper into a recession.

  • Similarly, 75% of Americans continue to worry more about their family’s health and well-being over their financial situation.

Arguments Linking Health to Reopening Most Resonant

More than half “strongly agree” that we must listen to our health experts to decide when to reopen, make testing more widespread, and avoid losing the progress we have made against the pandemic by reopening too soon.

  • There was widespread disagreement (57%) with a statement including “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” language we often hear from Trump.

Chants of “Fire Fauci” at Odds With Public Opinion

The majority of Americans oppose President Trump firing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

  • Even half of Republicans that watch Fox News (51%) oppose Trump firing Fauci, while only 25% support him firing Fauci.