Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Wednesday, July 1, 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 1,204 registered voters conducted June 25-30, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Disapproval of Trump’s handling of the pandemic has reached a new high in our tracking.
  • A growing majority now say the “worst is yet to come” in the pandemic, and Americans increasingly do not see a “return to normal” happening in the near future.
  • The vast majority say their state should reverse reopening plans if a new surge of cases hits their state.

Trump’s Pandemic Disapproval Rises to New High

Only 40% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic, with his net approval down 28 points since the beginning of our tracking.

  • Among white non-college Americans, just over half (51%) approve of his handling, down from 59% approval on March 23.

Trump Approval Underwater On Multiple Measures

Trump’s approval ratings on his handling of his job overall as president, health care, the pandemic, the economy, and responding to the protests following George Floyd’s death all continue to be net negative.

  • Among independents, less than two in five approve of Trump on each of these metrics, including only 22% who approve of his handling of health care and 19% who approve of his handling of recent protests.

Approval Highest for Governors in Northeast, Lowest in South

Approval for governors’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic overall has declined a net 6 points since last week, with Southern governors experiencing lower approval ratings than governors in other regions.

  • Democratic governors (62% approve/34% disapprove) have higher ratings than their Republican counterparts (56% approve/40% disapprove).

Three in Five Again Think “Worst is Yet to Come” in Pandemic

The percentage of Americans who believe the worst is yet to come has risen to its highest level since April 14.

  • Among people of color, 71% believe the worst is yet to come, as do 66% of Americans ages 18-34 and 69% of urban residents.

Growing Support for “More Aggressive” Social Distancing

Two in five said last week they think the country needs to be more aggressively social distancing: now, almost half say the same. Since its low point on May 4, the share who say this has increased 20 points.

  • On a separate question, 61% are now more concerned social distancing will end too soon rather than go on too long.

Concern About Reopening Too Quickly Increasing, Especially in States with Early Surges

Nearly half of Americans say their state is moving too quickly to reopen, up 5 points from last week. In states that have had early surges in cases, 56% now say their state is moving too quickly to reopen, up 8 points from last week.

  • In states that had increasing numbers of new cases starting last week, even a third (35%) of 2016 Trump voters believe their state is reopening too quickly.

Growing Majority Say Their State Should Reverse Reopening If a New Surge Takes Place

A majority say that if their state experiences a new surge of coronavirus cases, they should reverse reopening plans.

  • Among Republicans, the share who say their state should reverse reopening plans in the event of a new surge has increased 9 points since last week (from 34% to 43%).

Growing Number Say No “Return to Normal” Until 2021

Four in five now believe that it will take more than a few months for life in the United States to return to normal.

  • The percentage of Americans who believe a “return to normal” will not happen “until 2021” or “never” has grown by 34 points since April 16 (from 25% to 59%).
  • Even among Republicans, 41% say a “return to normal” will not happen “until 2021” or “never.”

Majority Continue to Be More Concerned About Public Health Than Economy

Americans remain more concerned about the impact of coronavirus on public health than on the economy as a whole.

  • Since the beginning of our tracking, the share who are more worried about public health than the economy has grown 10 points (from 49% to 59%).

Top Contributors to Spread: Big Gatherings, Ignoring Precautions

Each in a list of seven factors gets credit from at least three in five Americans for contributing “a lot” or “some” to the spread of the virus right now, with large gatherings and people refusing to take precautions at the top.

  • While Democrats say people not taking safety precautions is contributing most to the spread, Republicans say recent protests and failures of the Chinese government are contributing the most.

Two-Thirds Favor Extending Expanded Unemployment Benefits

Almost seven in ten support continuing expanded unemployment compensation until at least 2021, including majorities of independents (54%) and Republicans (53%).