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 1,004 registered voters conducted April 24-April 29, 2020 and a national online survey of 1,022 registered voters conducted April 28-May 1, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • A majority continue to disapprove of how Trump is handling the pandemic and remain concerned about his downplaying of the crisis and deflecting blame.
  • While there are partisan differences on whether or not to relax social distancing measures, most continue practicing them.
  • Americans getting their news from Fox News are more likely to believe disputed information relating to the pandemic.

Majority Disapprove of Trump’s Handling

The majority of Americans continue to disapprove of how Trump is handling the pandemic.

  • The share of Americans who “strongly disapprove” of Trump’s handling of the pandemic has reached 41%, a 10-point increase since the beginning of our daily tracking on March 23rd (31% strongly disapprove).

Deflecting Blame and Downplaying Remain Top Concerns

Trump’s failure to take responsibility for his own handling and his initial downplaying of the threat raise serious concerns for a majority of Americans.

  • Nearly half the country (48%) says that Trump “blaming others and tweeting insults” raises “very” serious concerns, an increase of 8 points since March 23 (from 40%).

Divergent Views by Partisanship on Whether Worst is Over

Nearly half of Americans still believe that the worst is yet to come in the coronavirus pandemic, though this varies widely across parties.

  • Half of Republicans say that “the worst is over,” while only 14% of Democrats say the same.
  • The percentage of Republicans that think the “worst is over” has increased by 10 points since our April 16 update, while the percentage of Democrats who think the same has actually decreased by 3 points.

Some Republicans Want to Relax Social Distancing…

The vast majority of Americans think we need either more aggressive social distancing measures or are currently doing the right thing.

  • Republicans (32%) are more than three times as likely as Democrats (9%) to say that we should relax social distancing measures.
  • On a separate question, more than half (52%) of Republicans think that the United States will “return to normal” within the new month or next few months, while only 30% of Democrats say the same.

…But Most Republicans Still Staying Inside

Despite shifts in support for relaxing social distancing measures, the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, continue to practice social distancing measures.

Democrats Most Likely to Wear Masks

A majority of the public reports wearing masks outside “always” or “most of the time.”

  • Democrats (69%) are the most likely to report wearing masks, followed by independents (57%) and then Republicans (55%).
  • Northeasterners (82%), Hispanics (79%), and liberals (70%) are also particularly likely to report wearing masks “always” or “most of the time.”

Disputed Info Spreading Among Republican Fox News Viewers

Republicans are significantly more likely to agree with a number of disputed claims pulled from recent news coverage than Democrats and independents are.

  • Republicans who watch Fox News at least a few times a month are particularly likely to agree with these statements.