Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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 release features findings from a national online survey of 1,009 registered voters conducted June 11-15, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s overall job approval has hit a new low in our tracking as Americans continue to hear negative things about his handling of recent protests and the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A majority say new cases in the country are increasing, and three in five say their state should reverse reopening if a second wave occurs.
  • The public trusts state and local government much more than Trump to handle coronavirus, and a majority say that he is moving too quickly to reopen.

Trump Approval Deeply Underwater on Range of Metrics

Trump’s approval ratings on his handling of his job overall, health care, the pandemic, and responding to the protests following George Floyd’s death remain underwater – and his handling of the economy is also now in the negative.

  • Among Republicans, Trump’s approval of his handling of the protests is particularly low (68% approve/23% disapprove).

Trump Job Approval Hits New Low in Tracking

Approval of Trump’s handling of his job as president has hit a new low in our tracking, with nearly three in five Americans disapproving.

  • Nearly half (49%) of Americans “strongly disapprove” of the job Trump is doing as president, including 44% of independents.

Negative Conversation on Trump Focused on Tear Gassing Protesters, Tulsa Rally, Pandemic Response

Since June 8, negative conversation around Trump has continued to focus on his tear gassing of protesters for a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Church and his response to recent anti-racism protests – while some of the conversation has shifted back toward his reopening of the country too soon and failing to combat coronavirus.

Top Worries: Nursing Homes, Resurgence of Pandemic

While Democrats are more worried about a second wave of coronavirus, the recent spike in cases in 20 states, and police violence, Republicans remain most worried about rioting and looting across the country.

  • Worries about “more than 20 states” seeing the number of new cases grow are highly partisan: while 95% of Democrats are worried about this issue, only 76% of independents and 64% of Republicans say the same.

Americans Believe Coronavirus Cases are Rising

More than half of Americans describe what is going on in the country in regard to coronavirus as “the number of new cases is increasing,” as do more than two in five about case numbers in their own state.

Growing Share Think America Needs More Aggressive Social Distancing

The share of Americans who say the country needs more aggressive social distancing measures has reached a new high since May 7th, with nearly two in five preferring more aggressive social distancing measures.

  • On a separate question, about half (48%) say that the “worst is yet to come,” up 4 points from last week (44%).

Strong Majority Support Reversing Reopening in Second Wave

Three in five Americans support reversing reopening plans and putting back in place social distancing measures if their state were to experience a “second wave” of coronavirus.

  • Among those who believe new cases are increasing in their state, 73% say their state should reverse reopening plans if they were to experience a “second wave” of coronavirus cases.

Public Believes Wide Variety of Factors Contributing to Spread

A plurality feel that ignoring safety precautions, returning to regular activities too quickly, ending social distancing too quickly, and recent protests are contributing a lot to the spread of the virus.

  • While Democrats are the most likely to say that people refusing to take safety precautions are contributing a lot to the spread (65%), Republicans are the most likely to say that the protests are contributing a lot (48%).

Virus Spread from Reopenings More Concerning Than Protests

Nearly half of Americans are more concerned about the country reopening too quickly leading to a second wave rather than recent protests leading to a second wave, up 11 points in just a week.

  • Among independents, the share who are more concerned about recent protests than reopening too quickly has dropped 18 points since our June 8 update.

Trust in State and Local Government to Handle Pandemic Over Trump Increasing

Nearly two in three Americans trust their state and local government more than Trump and the federal government to handle the pandemic, with a 25-point net increase in trust in state and local government since March 23.

  • Among Republicans, there has been a 34-point net increase in trust in state and local government over Trump since March 23 (from -48 net state and local government to -14).

Trump Losing the Argument on Reopening

More than half say Trump is ignoring expert advice and putting lives at risk.

  • Democrats are driving this result, although a plurality of independents and some Republicans agree.