Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Wednesday, September 23, 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 1,230 registered voters conducted September 17-21, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • The public continues to see the pandemic as the most important issue for the president and Congress to address.
  • A vast majority support continuing expanded unemployment insurance, and Americans are split on blaming Democrats and Republicans for lack of progress on coronavirus relief.
  • Majorities continue to say America’s response to the pandemic has been worse than the responses of other countries and that Trump made the pandemic worse than it needed to be.

Trump’s Job Approval Ratings Remain Negative

Trump’s approval ratings on his handling of his job overall as president, the issue of health care, the pandemic, and protests remain deeply underwater, while he’s breaking even on his handling of the economy.

  • Among independents, Trump is 10 points underwater this week on his handling of the economy (40% approve/50% disapprove).

Trump’s Handling of the Pandemic, the Supreme Court, and His Lying Are the Top Negative Things Heard About Him

The vast majority (77%) continue to hear negative things about Trump this week, with a focus on his response to coronavirus, his lies, and the recent news about appointing a new Supreme Court Justice.

Pandemic Remains Consistently Top Issue for Americans, Followed By Jobs & the Economy and Health Care

Coronavirus, jobs and the economy, and health care are the three issues that receive a high priority from Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Climate change, crime and disorder, and terrorism are divided by partisanship.

  • A week ago, 5% ranked Supreme Court appointments as a top four issue (5% of both Democrats and Republicans). Following recent news, 13% rank it as a top issue, with a jump among Democrats (12%) and Republicans (19%).

Three in Five Remain Concerned Social Distancing Will End Too Soon

Just three in ten are more concerned social distancing will go on too long rather than end too soon.

  • Among independents, 53% are more concerned social distancing will end too soon, while only 30% are more concerned social distancing will go on too long.

Majority Remain More Concerned About Public Health Than the National Economy

More than half say they are more concerned about the impact of coronavirus on people’s health rather than on the economy as a whole.

  • On a separate question, 54% of Americans say they know someone who has been infected with coronavirus.

Only Republicans Express More Confidence Than Unease in Their Personal Financial Situation

A majority of Americans say they are confident about their personal financial situation over the next few months, while a plurality say the economy is getting worse.

  • Republicans (68% confident) are driving the share who are personally confident about their financial situation and who believe the economy is getting better (51%).
  • Independents are personally uneasy about finances (63%) and say the economy is getting worse (52%).

Vast Majority Continue to Support Expanded Unemployment Compensation, Equally Blame Both Parties for Lack of Relief

More than two in three support expanded unemployment compensation, but Americans are split on whether they blame Democrats in Congress or Trump and Republicans in Congress more for the lack of progress on relief.

Top Trump Concerns: 200,000 American Casualties from Coronavirus & Making Situation in Cities Worse

Across party lines, the most concerning thing about Trump in the last few weeks is the number of Americans who have died from coronavirus and his adding fuel to the fire on the situation in cities.

On Economy, Top Trump Concern Is Ignoring Experts to Reopen Too Soon, Causing New Surge and Costing More Jobs

Among Democrats and independents, the top concern on Trump’s handling of the economy is his ignoring of experts and reopening the country too soon, causing a new surge in cases that will set back the economy again.

Majorities Say America’s Pandemic Response Worse Than Other Countries’, Trump Made Things Worse Than Necessary

More than half continue to say America’s response to the pandemic has been worse than other countries’ and three in five say Trump made mistaking that made the coronavirus outbreak worse than it should have been.

  • The share of Republicans saying America is doing better than other countries has dropped 14 points in 3 weeks.

Majority Say Trump Drive for Vaccine Motivated By Politics

More than half say that Trump and his administration’s approach to the coronavirus vaccine is motivated by politics so they can announce a vaccine before the election, while just a quarter say it is motivated by public health.

  • Even among 2016 Trump voters*, 25% say that Trump’s vaccine approach is more motivated by politics.

By 20 Points, People Say Trump Making Health Care More Expensive

Nearly half say Trump is making health care more expensive, while less than a third say he is making it more affordable.

  • Among those mixed on Trump*, 33% say he is making health care more expensive, while only 24% say he is making health care more affordable.