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 1,014 registered voters conducted May 1-6, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • The possibility of a second wave of the pandemic is now Americans’ top worry.
  • The public opposes a full reopening of the country, but is more open to a partial reopening of their own community.
  • Americans remain concerned by Trump putting lives at risk, downplaying the crisis, and failing to take responsibility.

Trump’s Job Approval Rating Back At Lowest

Trump’s overall job approval rating has been in the negative by double digits for most of the past three weeks, and today he’s back at a low of -14.

  • This is largely due to a vast majority of Democrats who disapprove of how Trump is handling his job (91%), and even one in six (16%) Republicans who also disapprove.

Possibility of “Second Wave” Now Tops Americans’ Worries

A “second wave” now edges out the economy falling into a recession and someone close getting infected among things Americans are very worried about.

  • Worries about limited space in hospitals has decreased by 14 points since April 8 (58% worried, down from 72%).

Americans Oppose Full, National Reopening; Some Support for Local, Partial Reopening

While a majority of Americans oppose a full national reopening, the public is receptive to communities partially reopening.

  • Support for reopening the country “in the next few weeks” among independents has increased by 13 points since April 22 (from 27% to 40%), though support for “full reopening” among independents is still at only 16%.

No Buyers’ Remorse on Social Distancing

The vast majority of Americans continue to support either expanding or maintaining current social distancing measures and think that we did the right thing by enacting social distancing the past few months.

  • Even the vast majority of Republicans (82%) and 2016 Trump voters (84%) think that we did the right thing by enacting social distancing.

More Americans See Longer Road to Normal

A growing majority believe that it will take more than the next few months for life in the United States to return to normal.

  • The percentage of Americans who believe it will take more than a few months to “return to normal” has grown by 19 points since April 16 (from 48% to 67%).
  • Only one in ten Republicans (10%) think life will return to normal within the next month.

Trump Downplaying & Ignoring Experts Remain Key Concerns…

When presented with a series of criticisms about Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, respondents rate early downplaying and ignoring experts as most serious.

  • “Very” or “somewhat” serious concern about early downplaying grew 7 points from March 23 (55% to 62%).

…But What Trump’s Doing Now to Put Lives at Risk Most Salient

While Trump’s initial downplaying of the crisis continues to concern the public, so do his current actions that put Americans’ lives at risks.

  • A plurality of independents (38%) are more concerned by Trump’s present downplaying of coronavirus than by his early downplaying, and the same share are more concerned by his words and actions that are putting lives at risk than his early downplaying.

Americans Don’t Buy Trump Response Success Story

In a forced choice question, the majority of Americans agree more that Trump’s response to the pandemic has been anything but a success.

  • Nearly a third of Republicans (28%) even agree that Trump’s response to coronavirus has not been successful.