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 3-April 8, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s approval ratings on handling the coronavirus pandemic pale in comparison to those of America’s governors.
  • Americans want Trump to focus on helping middle-class and working people, yet most feel his policies favor the wealthy.
  • The public is concerned by Trump’s early dismissal of the virus threat, despite a series of warning signs that got ignored.

Not All Who Approve of Trump’s Response Actually Approve

While Trump’s coronavirus approval rating is at 50%, only 37% of Americans say it’s more because of his strong leadership, while 13% say it is more about supporting the president during a time of national crisis.

Governors Earn Higher Marks Than Trump

Compared to Trump, state governors receive much higher approval ratings for their handling of coronavirus.

  • Trump receives less crossover support: he is getting 21% approval from Democrats on coronavirus, but Republican governors are getting 58% approval among in-state Democrats, while Democratic governors are getting 63% approval among in-state Republicans.
  • Governors who took early action by implementing statewide stay-at-home orders by March 26 receive higher ratings, on average, than those who did not.

Americans Want Policies That Put People First

While the vast majority want the federal government focused on helping regular people make ends meet, Americans tend to think Trump’s response favors the wealthy and big corporations.

Focus on Individual Relief Has Support and Urgency

There is near-unanimous support for small business loans, more generous unemployment benefits to offset the economic damage caused by the pandemic, and direct cash payments.

  • 91% of 2016 Trump voters support small business loans, and 88% of 2016 Trump voters support direct cash payments to all Americans.

Concern About Early Inaction Sticks

Trump’s failure to take early action and his downplaying of the threat are concerning to the majority of Americans.

  • Trump’s standing on both measures has held firm over recent weeks.

“Within a couple of days…”

Trump’s early decision to downplay the crisis, previous decisions that left the United States unprepared, and his failure to deliver raise serious concerns for Americans.

  • 53% of Americans that are “mixed on Trump” have very serious concerns that Trump spent weeks downplaying the coronavirus crisis when he should have been preparing the response.

Downplaying the Crisis Even Worries Republicans

Many Republicans are concerned that Donald Trump downplayed coronavirus when he should have been preparing and that he ignored previous warnings about a pandemic.