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 March 24-27, 2020.

Key Takeaways

  • There is near universal support for social distancing, and Americans want it to continue as long as public health experts say is necessary.
  • State and local governments are more trusted on the pandemic response than Trump and the federal government.
  • More Americans now disapprove than approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from the president’s advantage on the issue at the start of the week.

Nearly Everyone is Social Distancing.

Across the board, Americans are complying with official direction to change their lifestyle and flatten the curve.

  • An increasing number of Americans are taking specific steps compared to earlier in the week (since March 23rd: +6 points for spending almost all time at home; +7 points for going to grocery store less often).
  • Democrats and Republicans are participating in social distancing behaviors in comparable numbers.

Americans from both parties support social distancing as long as health experts tell them to do so.

  • Though Republicans are more likely than Democrats to support ending social distancing “soon,” the vast majority overwhelmingly agree we should wait until it is safe.

Americans are overwhelmingly on board with social distancing, with very few supporting a relaxation of the policy.

  • 89% of Republicans support expanding or maintaining social distancing while just 8% of them support relaxing it.

Americans are far more worried that we will end social distancing too soon, risking lives and a continuation of the crisis, than they are about potential economic costs of continuing social distancing too long.

  • As noted in previous releases, Americans are also more concerned with the impact of coronavirus on people’s health (55%) than they are about the impact on the economy (45%), when forced to choose.

State, Local Government More Trusted than Trump.

Americans are less confident in a federal response led by Trump than they are in their governors and mayors, as many state leaders take the lead and ask for more support from the federal government.

  • This comes as numerous public polls appear to show a “rally ‘round the flag effect” for many governors that is much greater than what has been seen for the president.
  • By 8 points, independents trust state and local leaders more.

Trump’s Coronavirus Approval Has Fallen Underwater.

More Americans now disapprove than approve of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic for the first time in our daily tracking polls.

  • His net approval on coronavirus has fallen 13 points over the course of the week (from +10 to -3).
  • This is a substantial decline from an apparent peak in his approval at the start of the week, and it is increasingly converging with the president’s overall approval rating (46% approve/52% disapprove).

Economic Attitudes Continue to Worsen.

Economic sentiment rapidly reversed over the course of March, and negative opinion has yet to plateau.

  • Republicans were still net positive on the state of the U.S. economy at the start of the week (54% excellent/good, 41% not so good/poor), but their economic sentiment has worsened over the course of the week (it is now 48% excellent/good, 49% not so good/poor).