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 1,010 registered voters conducted March 27-April 1, 2020.

Communicating about Coronavirus

  • Americans say they are concerned by Trump’s failure to take responsibility and by his chaotic handling of the pandemic.
  • Those with “mixed views on Trump” are especially worried about the challenges faced American health care workers.
  • The public supports social distancing broadly and strongly opposed Trump’s proposal to end it soon.

Early Errors & Overloaded Hospitals Cause Concern

Early mistakes, lack of accountability, and ongoing shortcomings in the coronavirus response trouble most Americans, including many with “mixed views on Trump.”

  • Americans who sometimes approve of Trump and sometimes disapprove of Trump (“Mixed on Trump” below) cite early inaction as a serious concern and also worry about a looming hospital crisis.

New Messages: Ignoring Experts and Lack of PPE

Mixed messages from the Trump administration and a lack of support for health care workers are most concerning.

  • Trump’s lack of action in dealing with the shortage of masks and other protective gear is particularly concerning to “Mixed on Trump” voters (55% very serious concerns).

Other takeaways

  • The share of Americans who know someone who has lost a job due to the pandemic has risen dramatically over the past week.
  • Still, the number who think “the worst is yet to come” has also continued growing and has reached a new high.
  • Americans have increasingly put their trust in state and local government, and trust Dr. Anthony Fauci and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in particular to tell the truth about the coronavirus pandemic.

Most Americans Know Someone Who Lost Their Job

The share of Americans who know someone who has lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic has continued to grow.

  • This number has seen a 19-point increase since our initial survey, conducted March 20-23.
  • Younger Americans (70% of 18-44 year-olds), those in the service sector (68%), and those who live in an urban area (67%) are especially likely to know someone who has lost a job.

More Americans Believe “Worst is Yet to Come”

In the last three weeks, the percentage of the public who say the worst of the pandemic is yet to come has grown by 26 points.

  • This includes 76% of independents and 71% of Republicans who feel the worst is still yet to come.

Americans Trust State and Local Government More

The public has increasingly put their trust in state and local government to handle the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Over the past week, there has been a 6-point increase in trust for state and local government to handle the coronavirus pandemic (54%, up from 48%), while trust for President Trump and the federal government has dropped 2 points (33%, down from 35%).

Public Looks to Fauci – and Cuomo – For Truth on Coronavirus

While Americans trust Dr. Anthony Fauci, a disease expert from the National Institute of Health, and Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, to tell the truth about coronavirus, the public is wary of the president.

  • Among political independents, the gap is wider, with Fauci at +57, Cuomo at +16, and Trump at -16.
  • Cuomo’s trust numbers are especially high with cable news viewers: 68% Trust with CNN viewers and 64% Trust with MSNBC viewers – but even among Fox News viewers, a very conservative audience, 33% trust Cuomo.

Americans Think Trump Needs to Focus More on Health

A plurality of Americans (45%) say that Trump is not focused enough on people’s health while only 22% say he isn’t focused enough on the economy.

  • A near majority of independents do not think Trump is focusing the right amount on either the economy (50% not focused enough or too focused) or on people’s health (49%).

Americans Support More Aggressive Social Distancing

Americans nearly unanimously support social distancing, and an increasing number think we should be taking more aggressive measures to prevent spread of coronavirus.

  • Fully two thirds of Americans (68%, including 63% of independents and a 48% plurality of Republicans) opposed Trump’s specific call to “re-open” the economy by Easter.