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Americans Are Largely Unimpressed With Trump’s Handling Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

The coronavirus continues to affect daily life, keeping many Americans at home and away from work, restaurants and other businesses. Naturally, pollsters are very focused on how Americans are responding to all of this, so here’s a look at the latest surveys.

First, in perhaps troubling news for President Trump, since last week there’s been a slight uptick in the number of Americans who disapprove of how he’s handling the crisis, according to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker of coronavirus polling.

In one of the recent polls asking how Trump is managing the crisis, Yahoo News/YouGov found that 49 percent disapproved of his response while 45 percent approved. But it also found that 65 percent of Americans thought Trump could have reduced the virus’s impact “a lot” or “somewhat” had he acted sooner. Morning Consult’s latest survey also gave Trump mixed reviews — 48 percent approved and 46 percent disapproved of how he’s handling the pandemic. The poll also found that just 7 percent of Americans felt the federal government was doing “too much” in response to the coronavirus, while 45 percent said it wasn’t doing enough and 40 percent said it was doing “the right amount.” And finally, a CBS News poll also found Trump’s ratings slightly underwater, with 52 percent saying he was doing a bad job handling the outbreak versus 48 percent who said he was doing a good job. Additionally, 57 percent said the country’s dealings with the health crisis were “going badly.”

Five new polls in four battleground states also gave Trump mediocre marks for his handling of COVID-19. In Florida, Quinnipiac University showed that 51 percent disapproved of his response compared with 46 percent who approved, and a Pennsylvania survey by Fox News found similar numbers, 51 percent disapproved and 44 percent approved. Two Michigan polls gave Trump almost identical marks there, too: Glengariff Group found 50 percent disapproved and 44 percent approved while Fox News found 50 percent disapproved and 45 percent approved. And in Arizona, OH Predictive Insights found that 50 percent disapproved of his handling of the crisis while 46 percent approved.

On the other hand, state and local governments have received high marks for their decision-making regarding the coronavirus. Morning Consult’s poll found that 73 percent of Americans approved of how their state governments are handling the crisis compared to just 21 percent who disapproved, and 75 percent approved of their local government’s response. And Civis found that 80 percent or more supported policies enacted by state governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus, like orders to shelter in place and restrictions on dining in restaurants.

But there’s real concern about a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The Yahoo News/YouGov survey found that 71 percent of Americans are more concerned about lifting restrictions too quickly than too slowly, and an identical share said they want public officials to be capable of mass testing before lifting restrictions on normal activities. Similarly, 63 percent told CBS News they are more worried about reopening too fast and causing the outbreak to worsen than reopening too slowly and hurting the economy. Those results align with other surveys that found Americans are largely content with staying at home to limit the outbreak: Reuters/Ipsos found that 72 percent said people should stay at home until health officials say it’s safe, while an AP-NORC survey suggested that most are fine with the restrictions in their area — 61 percent said they were about right and 26 percent said they didn’t go far enough. The country also seems ready for such policies to remain in effect for a while longer, as Elucd’s tracker found that 65 percent expect disruptions to last at least two more months.

However, one major concern with the stay-at-home orders and business closures continues to be the huge economic fallout from the coronavirus, especially now that more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs. Overall, 87 percent of Americans are very or somewhat worried about the coronavirus’s effect on the economy, according to our tracker, which is largely unchanged from last week.

In a Pew Research Center survey, 43 percent of Americans said that they or someone in their household had lost a job or taken a pay cut because of the pandemic. The survey found lower-income adults were particularly hard hit: Only 23 percent said they had enough money to cover their expenses for three months if they lost their job or became sick. Forty-eight percent of middle-income earners and 75 percent of high-income individuals said the same. There was also a racial disparity: 53 percent of white respondents said they had enough to last three months compared to 27 percent of black respondents and 29 percent of Latino respondents. And as a Money/Morning Consult survey found, the federal government’s stimulus checks may be insufficient for many Americans — 74 percent said either they had already spent the money or it would only last them four weeks or less.

Americans remain more anxious about the economy than their health, but large numbers also continue to worry about personally catching the virus or someone close to them getting infected. About 7 in 10 Americans are somewhat or very worried about this, according to our tracker, which is a slight decrease from about 10 days ago, when 3 in 4 Americans said the same.

Other polling bites

  • With the coronavirus threat hanging over the November general election, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found that 58 percent of Americans were in favor of changing election laws to allow all voters to cast ballots by mail, while another 9 percent opposed a permanent change but said they backed voting by mail if it was allowed just for this November’s election. Twenty-nine percent opposed changing laws to allow everyone to vote by mail under any circumstance. There was an ample partisan gap, as 88 percent of Democrats backed some version of expanding vote-by-mail in 2020, compared to just 44 percent of Republicans (69 percent of independents also supported increased access).
  • Forty-one percent of Democrats1 said in a recent Pew Research Center survey that they were bothered by the fact that a white man in his 70s will be their presidential nominee, while 59 percent said it didn’t bother them. The survey found no difference in how men and women responded, but it did find a difference in responses across race, as 49 percent of white Democrats said they were bothered by this, compared with 30 percent and 28 percent of Latino and black Democrats, respectively. That may come as a surprise, given the diversity of the Democratic base, but perhaps it’s not totally unexpected, given how far to the left white liberals have moved on issues of race and discrimination in recent years.
  • A new survey from Morning Consult found that former Vice President Joe Biden’s favorability among Democratic primary voters went up after he received endorsements from former President Barack Obama and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — two former primary foes. His overall favorability among Democratic primary voters ticked up to 78 percent for the week ending on April 19, 2 points higher than it was the week before. Notably, his favorability shot up among younger Democrats, including a 5-point increase among 18-to-29 year olds and a 3-point increase among 30-to-44 year olds.
  • A number of governors have gotten rave reviews for managing their states during the ongoing crisis, but New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu may have topped them all. A survey from the University of New Hampshire found that 89 percent of New Hampshirites approve of how he’s handling the coronavirus situation.
  • Half of Americans said they found staying at home at least somewhat stressful, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey that looked at how people are coping with remaining indoors. But 67 percent of people who described themselves as generally “anxious” said they were stressed out, compared to just 39 percent of people who said they were by nature more “calm.”
  • With so many people trying to social distance, Gallup found that there’s been a rise in the use of services, like food delivery, curbside pickup and virtual doctor visits. For example, 14 percent of respondents said they’d used a grocery delivery service more often during the coronavirus situation than they used to compared to 8 percent who said so in late March, and 28 percent said they’d used curbside pickup more often versus just 16 percent late last month.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 43.4 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.6 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -9.2 points). At this time last week, 44.2 percent approved and 51.7 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -7.5 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 43.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 51.6 percent, for a net approval rating of -7.9 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 7.6 percentage points (48.1 percent to 40.5 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 7.8 points (48.6 percent to 40.8 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 7.4 points (48.8 percent to 41.4 percent).


  1. Including independents who lean Democratic.

Geoffrey Skelley is a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.