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

  • A key group of Americans – those who disapprove of Trump overall, but approve of him on the economy – strongly disapprove of how Trump is handling the pandemic.
  • Americans are nostalgic for the pre-crisis economy, but feel Trump is not doing enough to help regular people, and that his mistakes have made the economy worse.
  • Most Americans support measures allowing “safe voting.”

Trump’s Approvals Remain Underwater; Public More Split on Economic Handling

Trump’s approval ratings on four metrics related to the coronavirus pandemic continue to drop.

  • Among independents, Trump’s at -29 on his overall job approval (31% approve/60% disapprove), -29 on health care (25% approve/54% disapprove), -11 on handling the pandemic (36% approve/47% disapprove), and -1 on the economy (44% approve/45% disapprove).

Profiling “Conflicted” Americans Who Approve of Trump on Economy, But Not Overall

Using 7,000+ interviews conducted over the last month, we again looked at “Conflicted” Americans – 7% of the public who disapprove of Trump overall, but approve of his economic handling.

  • This is a key group of the public who hold mixed partisan attitudes – 36% voted for Clinton in 2016, 34% voted for Trump, 10% voted 3rd party, and 21% didn’t vote. At the same time, nearly half (48%) identify as moderate.

Democrats More Trusted on Responding to Economic Impact

Democrats in Congress hold an advantage over Trump on trust to respond to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to make decisions about when and how to reopen the country.

  • While independents trust Democrats somewhat more on looking out for working people (+6), they are split on who to trust to be honest with the public (+1) and responding to the economic impact of the pandemic (-3).

Some Nostalgia Exists for Pre-Crisis Economy…

Roughly half say the economy was working before the crisis. Half also find Trump’s economic message to be a convincing reason why he is prepared to handle the recovery.

…But Majority Agree Trump Isn’t Doing Enough to Help Regular People & Made Mistakes That Hurt the Economy

Majorities believe Trump is not doing enough to help regular people and get the country back on track, and that he made early mistakes that made our economic problems worse than they needed to be.

Voters More Concerned About Trump Prolonging Economic Crisis Than Economic Damage Done So Far

Nearly two in three Americans say they are more concerned about Trump reopening the country too quickly and prolonging the virus, making the economic situation worse, than about economic damage already done.

Top Economic Concerns: Trump’s Early Mistakes, Ignoring Economists, Favoring the Wealthy & Corporations

When presented with a series of criticisms about Trump’s approach to the economic recovery, early mistakes, ignoring economists who say more government action is needed, and corporate bailouts raise the most serious concerns.

Nearly Unanimous Favorability Toward the USPS

Nine in ten Americans have favorable views of the United States Postal Service.

  • Across party lines, the USPS enjoys at least four in five saying that they are favorable to the USPS, including 86% of Republicans.

Broad Support For Expanding Voting Access

Despite narratives of voter fraud and other unproven criticisms of expanding voting access, more than two in three Americans support allowing people to vote at different times at polls in-person, funding the USPS to ensure mail-in ballots have no issues, making Election Day a national holiday, and other measures.

Trump Threats on Vote By Mail Fall Flat

Most Americans oppose Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding to states that expand mail voting.

  • Even among Republicans, support for Trump’s position is only at 56%. Among Republicans who watch Fox News, it’s at 66%.

“Safe Voting” More Compelling than “Voter Reforms”

While more than half of Americans say reforming voting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is more important than preventing voter fraud, more than three in five choose ensuring safe voting over preventing fraud.

  • Even among Republicans, nearly two in five (37%) choose ensuring safe voting over preventing voter fraud.