Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Wednesday, August 5, 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 1,001 registered voters conducted July 30 – August 3, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s approval ratings on handling the pandemic remain deeply underwater.
  • For the first time since the pandemic began, a majority of Americans know someone who has been infected with coronavirus.
  • More than three in four Americans support states requiring people to wear masks.

Trump Approval Ratings Remain Negative

Three in five Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of his job as president and his handling of the pandemic.

  • Among independents, Trump is net -27 on his handling of the presidency (34% approve/61% disapprove), -29 on health care (30%/59%), -40 on the pandemic (27%/67%), -8 on the economy (42%/50%), and -28 on protests (32%/60%).

Trump’s Pandemic Approval Still Deeply Underwater

Three in five disapprove of the way Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic, with his net approval now at -22.

  • Among Republicans, more than one in five (21%) disapprove of the job Trump is doing handling the pandemic.
  • Half (49%) of Americans “strongly disapprove” of the job Trump is doing handling the coronavirus.

Delaying the Election, Failures in the Pandemic, and Reopening Schools Dominate Negative Trump Conversation

The vast majority (81%) continue to hear some negative things about President Trump this week, with a focus on his comments on delaying the November election, his response to the pandemic, and his push to reopen schools.

Approval for Governors in High Infection States Now Underwater

Approval of governors’ handling of the pandemic is down nearly 10 points since July 14. Republican governors and governors of states where the number of new cases is increasing have the lowest approval ratings.

  • Governors of states where new cases are stable or decreasing still have a net approval of +32, while those of states where the number of new cases is increasing is now at net -7, down from +19 on July 14.

More than Half of Americans Now Know Someone Who Has Been Infected with Coronavirus

For the first time since our tracking began, a majority now know someone infected with coronavirus, more than five times greater than the percentage who knew someone infected on March 23.

  • Roughly the same share of white Americans (50%) and African Americans (49%) know someone who has been infected. However, African Americans are more likely to know someone who has died (29%) compared to white Americans (17%).

Top Worries: Nursing Homes, Economy in Recession, Virus Spread

Top concerns across parties are the vulnerability of nursing homes to coronavirus and falling into a recession.

  • Worries about other people not following precautions like wearing masks are highly partisan: while 95% of Democrats and 81% of independents are worried, only 61% of Republicans say the same.
  • Republicans are most worried about demonstrations in towns and cities becoming violent (85% worried).

Majority Continue to Support “More Aggressive” Social Distancing

More than half say the country needs more aggressive social distancing measures. Since the beginning of June, there has been a 19-point increase in the share who say we need more aggressive social distancing.

  • On a separate question, 68% say they are on the side of those who are more cautious about reopening, while only 27% say they are generally on the side of those who are pushing to reopen.

More and More Americans Believe Our Pandemic Response is Worse Than Rest of World’s

Since May 18, there has been a 12-point increase in the share who say America is doing a worse job responding to the pandemic than other countries. Among Republicans, there has been a 14-point increase.

Opposition to Schools Reopening is Rising

Since June 1, support for reopening schools in the fall has shifted dramatically, with a 24-point increase in the share who oppose reopening schools at the end of the summer.

  • Among parents, there has been a 27-point increase in the share who oppose reopening schools at the end of summer (from 31% to 58%).

More Than Three-Quarters Support Mask Mandates

Almost four in five support having a law requiring people wear masks in their state, while nearly two in three support enforcing the law with fines for people who fail to follow that law.

  • Among Americans 65+, 83% support their state having a law that requires people to wear masks, and another 70% support enforcing that law with fines for people who do not comply.

Vast Majority Continue to See Trump as Anti-Mask

While Trump was photographed wearing a mask at a recent public event, two-thirds of Americans continue to think he has generally been “anti-mask,” showing no change from two weeks ago.

  • At the same time, four in five (80%) Americans say they are personally pro-mask, up 4 points since June 30 (76% pro-mask).

Three in Five Do Not Trust Trump to Be Honest on Infection Data & Oppose Decision to Bypass CDC Data Collection

Majorities do not trust Trump to tell the truth about coronavirus case numbers and deaths and oppose Trump’s ordering of hospitals to bypass the CDC and send all patient information to his administration.

Majority Say They Would Get Vaccinated, With Divisions By Gender, Education

While more than half say they would get vaccinated if a coronavirus vaccine were to become available, more than two in five say they would not get vaccinated or are not sure.

  • Groups especially likely to choose to get vaccinated were a vaccine to become available include men (60% would choose to) and college-educated Americans (64%). Minimal differences exist by age.