Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Wednesday, July 15, 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 1,002 registered voters conducted July 9-13, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s approval matches its lowest point in Navigator history, going back to April 2018.
  • A majority of Americans, and parents, oppose reopening schools in the fall because of the risks, and nearly two in three parents say schools should be among the last things to reopen.
  • The public – including parents – trusts state and local government over Trump to handle reopening schools and would prefer he stay out of the issue.

Trump’s Job Disapproval Hits Record High

About three in five Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president.

  • Trump’s current job approval (39% approve/59% disapprove) matches the lowest it has ever been in Navigator, dating back to the beginning of our surveys in April 2018.

Trump Approval Ratings Continue to Decline

As Trump’s approval remains negative, his ratings on his handling of the economy are the worst they have been in our tracking with a majority of Americans disapproving.

  • Among independents, Trump’s approval on the economy is in the negative by 21 points; on the first day of our tracking on March 23, he was at +13 among independents on the economy.

Coronavirus Continuing to Dominate Conversation on Trump, With Discussion Shifting Toward Reopening of Schools

The vast majority of Americans (80%) continue to hear at least some negative things about President Trump, which are mostly focused on coronavirus and his push to reopen schools in the fall.

Majority Oppose Reopening Schools

Support for reopening K-12 schools at the end of the summer has declined significantly since June 1, with net support shifting 26 points (from +14 to -12).

  • Among parents, there has been a 20-point increase in the share who oppose reopening schools at the end of the summer, from 31% on June 1 to 51% today.

Few Support Fully Reopening Schools

Just 20% of Americans – and only 10% of independents – support fully reopening school buildings in the fall, while most Americans either want to reopen partially or not open at all.

  • In high infection states, 36% support not reopening school buildings at all, while in the rest of the country, only 26% support no reopening and 45% support a partial reopening.

Public is Cautious About Reopening Schools, Think They Should Be Last to Reopen

Nearly two in three parents say schools should be among the last to reopen to keep our kids and communities healthy, and roughly the same say they are on the side of those who are being “more cautious” about reopening schools.

Just a Third Approve of Trump’s Handling of Reopening Schools

Nearly three in five disapprove of Trump’s handling of reopening schools this fall, including almost half who “strongly disapprove.”

  • Republicans who watch Fox News are driving the share who approve of the job Trump is doing handling reopening schools: 79% approve, while only 50% of Republicans who do not watch Fox News approve.

Vast Majority Believe Trump Should Leave Decisions About School Reopenings to Local Leaders

Nearly three in four trust their state and local government more than the president to decide when and how to reopen schools this fall, and two in three think he should stay out of the issue and leave decisions to communities.

Democrats in Congress More Trusted to Handle Reopening Schools than Trump

A majority of Americans trust Democrats in Congress more to handle decisions regarding reopening schools, including more than half of parents.

As Trump Attacks Fauci, Far More Americans Trust Him on Schools than the President

Less than a third of Americans trust Trump to make decisions about how and whether to reopen schools in the fall, including only two in five parents. More than half do not trust Trump at all on this issue.

On School Reopening, Top Concerns With Trump are Ignoring Experts to Push Unsafe Reopening, Threatening Cuts

Americans finds a range of Trump’s positions on school reopening concerning – including his calls to reopen without proper safety precautions and threatening to defund schools that disagree with his approach.

  • Among parents, nearly two in five say that their biggest concern is Trump pushing to reopen schools without proper safety precautions.

Majority Wants Caution on Reopening Schools

When presented with statements on reopening schools, more agree school reopening can’t be based on politics, that safety precautions must be in place, and that full communities need to be considered in these decisions.