Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Thursday, July 9, 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 8,732 registered voters conducted March 20-April 23; a national online survey of 8,445 registered voters conducted April 23-June 2; and a national online survey 5,023 registered voters conducted June 3-June 30, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • The President’s declining approval rating is driven especially by women and people of color, but also by declines among white catholics and evangelicals.
  • Independents and non-liberal Democrats have moved consistently against Trump since early June.
  • A generational divide among the GOP reveals older Republicans to be more COVID-sensitive and  younger Republicans more supportive of the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Women Are Driving Trump Approval Decline Amid Protests

Over the course of our tracking, Trump’s overall job approval has declined substantially. Following recent protests, approval declines were mostly driven by women, particularly younger women and women of color.

  • In the wake of these protests, Trump’s net approval has significantly declined among women overall (down 7 points), women ages 18-54 (-10), white college women (-11), and women of color (-13).

Trump Approval Fell During Early Pandemic Response Among Older Americans & During Protests Among Younger Americans

Among older Americans (50 and older), Trump’s approval dropped most during the pandemic’s first peak. Among younger Americans, Trump dropped most post-protest.

Movement Against Trump Significant Among People of Color, White Catholics, and White Evangelicals

Amidst Trump’s job approval decline, people of color, Hispanics, white evangelicals, and white Catholics have shown especially significant declines – both between our first two waves and following the beginning of protests in June.

Independents, Non-Liberal Democrats Biggest Movers Against Trump

Though ratings among strong partisans have held relatively consistent in our tracking, among independents and non-liberal Democrats, there has been a double-digit decline in net approval of Trump’s handling of his job as president since the beginning of our tracking in March.

Republicans are Relatively Divided on Issues Relating to Protests and Coronavirus

Though nearly nine in ten Democrats are pro-mask, cautious on reopening, support recent protests, and are favorable to the Black Lives Matter movement, Republicans are divided in their opinions on each of these issues.

Generational Divide Within GOP: Older More COVID-Sensitive, Younger More Protest-Sensitive

Divergences emerge within the Republican party by age on issues relating to protests and coronavirus.

  • On metrics related to the pandemic, Republicans over 50 are more likely to be more pro-mask and cautious on reopening. On those related to protests, a majority of Republicans ages 18-34 support the protests that have followed the death of George Floyd and are favorable to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Gender and Educational Divides Less Important for GOP Views on Protests and Pandemic

Gender and education are not as strong of dividing lines as age among Republicans on issues relating to coronavirus and recent protests – though some variation emerges.

  • Republican women are more personally cautious on reopening than men, though they are roughly as likely to be pro-mask as Republican men.

Protest-Sensitive and COVID-Sensitive Republicans More Likely to Disapprove of Trump

Though more than nine in ten Republicans who are not pro-protest/BLM or pro-mask/cautious approve of the job Trump is doing as president, fewer Republicans who are either pro-protest/BLM or pro-mask/cautious approve.

  • Though still a majority, among protest-sensitive Republicans, only two in three approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while three in four COVID-sensitive Republicans approve.