Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Friday, July 31, 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 24,219 registered voters conducted March – July 2020, including a national online survey of 2,017 registered voters conducted in July 2020, a national online survey of 5,148 registered voters conducted in June 2020, a national online survey of 6,288 registered voters conducted in May 2020, a national online survey of 7,393 registered voters conducted in April 2020, and a national online survey of 3,373 registered voters conducted in March 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump approval has significantly declined since March.
  • GOP Governors in high infection states are experiencing lowest pandemic approval ratings among Governors.
  • Support for “more aggressive” measures to stop the virus has surged after an initial decline.

Trump Approval Has Significantly Declined Since March

Trump’s ratings on five different metrics have moved deeply underwater in the last five months of Navigator’s tracking.

  • Since March, Trump’s overall approval rating has declined a net of 17 points and on the pandemic specifically, 28 points. Among independents, his overall ratings declined from net +3 in March to net -38 in July.

Trump’s Pandemic Approval Declining Across Demographics

Trump’s approval ratings on the pandemic have declined substantially across age, race, and party since March.

  • The most significant declines in how Trump is handling the pandemic are among Americans ages 18-44 (-28 net decline since March), 65+ (-30), Black Americans (-42), Hispanics (-36), and independents (-55).

GOP Governors of High Infection States Experiencing Lowest Pandemic Approval Rating

While governors across the board have net positive approval ratings on their handling of the pandemic, Democratic governors and governors in states with low infection rates continue to enjoy the highest levels of approval.

Congressional Democrats Hold Growing Advantage Over Trump in Trust to Respond to Pandemic

With a current advantage in trust over the president by 18 points, Congressional Democrats have gained a net 21 points in trust over the president to respond to the pandemic since March.

  • Among independents, there has been a shift of 41 points in net trust of Democrats over Trump since March, but Trump’s standing has even eroded among Republicans.

Support for “More Aggressive” Measures to Stop the Virus Resurges After Initial Decline

Though lower in April, May, and June, most Americans now support more aggressive social distancing, the highest share in Navigator’s tracking. Two in three are more concerned social distancing will end too soon rather than go on too long, also a new high in our tracking.

By a Range of Measures, 2016 Trump Voters Souring on the President

Self-reported 2016 Trump voters have grown more pessimistic on the state of the country since March, have lower levels of approval of Trump’s handling of his job as president and the pandemic, and fewer say he’s getting his response right on the pandemic.

  • His lowest ratings come specifically on the pandemic: his approval on the response has declined a net 20 points among 2016 Trump voters since March, and the share who say he’s getting it about right has declined 27 points.

Trump’s Coronavirus Approval Consistently Lower With Those Who Know Someone Who Got Sick – Regardless of Party 

In March, only 13% of voters knew someone who had gotten sick and that rose to 43% in July as Trump’s net coronavirus approval dropped from +4 to -24 in the same time period.