Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

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 1,012 registered voters conducted May 21-25, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Trump’s approval rating on handling health care remains low as Democrats are more trusted on a variety of health metrics related to the pandemic.
  • Americans have increasingly favorable views of the ACA and oppose the lawsuit to repeal it.
  • Americans have very serious concerns about congressional Republicans and Trump failing to protect health care coverage for those with preexisting conditions.

Trump’s Approval on Health Care Remains Negative

Only 38% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling the issue of health care.

  • There’s now been a net decline of 14 points in Trump’s handling since March 23rd (from -2 to -16).
  • Among independents, only 25% approve of his handling of health care.

House Democrats More Trusted on Pandemic Issues

Democrats in Congress are more trusted than Trump on a variety of health issues, especially protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and improving the health care system.

  • The advantage held by Democrats in Congress on responding to the coronavirus outbreak has increased a net 18 points since March 23 (+12, up from -6).

Favorability of ACA Rises Even Higher

Nearly three in five Americans are favorable to the Affordable Care Act, up double digits from 46% in June 2019.

  • Among Republicans, favorability of the ACA has increased 13 points since June 2019, from 19% to 32%.

Public Favors Dropping Lawsuit & Leaving ACA in Place

Only a third of Americans say the government should continue its lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

  • Independents (27%) are especially unlikely to say the government should continue its lawsuit to repeal the ACA.
  • Even among Republicans, just 62% want the lawsuit aimed at repealing Obamacare to continue.

Top Health Care Worries In a Pandemic: Pre-existing Conditions, Lost Coverage, High Costs

When presented with a series of criticisms about Trump and congressional Republicans’ approach to health care, denial of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and taking away health care coverage for millions are top concerns.

Majorities Describe Trump Response as Failure & Say His Mistakes Worsened Crisis

More than half of Americans think that Trump’s response has been a failure and that he made early mistakes that made things worse than they needed to be.

  • More than a third (35%) describe Trump’s response as a “big failure,” while only 8% describe as a “big success.”

Arbery Shooting Breaks Through Coronavirus Coverage

Despite heavy media coverage of the pandemic, other news such as the killing of Ahmaud Arbery broke through while manufactured controversies by Trump are gaining less traction, such as “Obamagate.”

Most Think Trump Trying to Distract from Pandemic Missteps

In a split test, more than half of Americans feel that Trump is trying to change the topic from coronavirus due to his failure to address the crisis, while there is less of a clear advantage for an argument that Trump is lying about Obama to cover up his own corruption.

Trump: Self-Absorbed, Unprepared, Irresponsible

The most concerning descriptors of Trump’s response to the pandemic include “irresponsible,” “self-absorbed,” and “unprepared.”

  • Half of Americans (50%) say that “self-absorbed” applies to Trump’s response “very well.”
  • Among those mixed on Trump*, 68% say ”unprepared” applies to him, while 58% say it’s most concerning.

Early Downplaying, Blaming Others Remain Top Concerns

Americans find Trump’s early downplaying of the crisis, along with ignoring experts, to be top concerns.

  • Among those mixed on Trump*, top concerns include his downplaying (50%), blaming others and failing to take responsibility (47%).