AP Photo/John Minchillo Andrew Cuomo
AP Photo/John Minchillo

In a new poll, 76% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, and 67% of independents say their governor has done a good job dealing with the crisis.

A majority of Americans believe their state governors are responding to the coronavirus crisis more effectively than the national effort led by President Trump, according to a new Monmouth University Poll.

Seventy-two percent of the public says their state’s governor has done a good job, while only 18% say they’ve done a bad job. In contrast, 50% of Americans believe Trump has done a good job, while 45% believe he’s done a bad job. Public opinion on Trump’s response to the pandemic was unsurprisingly partisan, with 89% of Republicans, 48% of independents and 19% of Democrats supporting the way he’s handled the outbreak. 

“The president gets more positive than negative marks for his handling of the COVID outbreak but his numbers are still driven by the nation’s typical partisan divide,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in a statement

The support for Trump comes despite the fact that he initially declined to pursue more aggressive testing for the disease out of fear that more positive cases would hurt his re-election effort. The president also downplayed the severity of the virus for six weeks, comparing it to the flu. 

The CDC also botched the development of its first coronavirus test, and is still struggling to develop enough tests. The Trump administration has since allowed private and academic labs to develop their own tests, which has increased the pace of testing, but the shortage remains massive and has allowed the disease to spread like wildfire. 

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Governors, meanwhile, have been on the frontlines, issuing “stay-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” orders, shutting down non-essential businesses, closing schools, and making it easier for newly unemployed individuals to receive unemployment benefits.

These efforts have been broadly popular with their constituents, as 76% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, and 67% of independents say their governor has done a good job dealing with the crisis. Governors “seem to be emerging as the most trusted official voice in this crisis across the board,” Murray said.

Perhaps no governor has received more plaudits than the Democratic Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has held daily briefings on the coronavirus and emphasized the importance of social distancing. He’s also asked the Army Corps of Engineers to build four temporary hospitals in New York and asked for another four 250-bed FEMA field hospitals to meet the rising number of cases in his state. 

He also sent 1 million additional masks to New York City and found 6,000 extra ventilators to purchase to deal with the state’s ventilator shortage. Understanding that more needs to be done, Cuomo has called on the federal government to nationalize the medical supply chain and invoke the Defense Production Act to compel companies to make gowns, masks, and gloves to address the shortage of medical supplies.

It’s not just Democratic governors who’ve received praise. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a conservative Republican, has also earned praise for his early actions. DeWine was the first governor to prohibit spectators at a sporting event, when on March 3, he announced a ban of attendees at the Arnold Classic, a multi-sport festival held in Columbus. Within days, similar events around the nation were canceled and multiple sports leagues, including the NBA and NHL, suspended their seasons.

DeWine was also the first governor to close public schools, the first to recommend his state’s colleges suspend in-person classes, and the first to shut down restaurants and bars. Several other states have since followed his lead on every measure.

Overall, Americans are more satisfied with actions taken by their states rather than the federal government, with nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) saying their individual states have taken appropriate steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Only 25% said their states have not gone far enough, while 9% say they’ve gone too far. 

Americans are less pleased with the federal government, with only 47% saying federal measures have been appropriate, while 45% say they have not gone far enough. Only 6% say the federal government has gone too far.

“Ambivalence toward the federal government’s response seems to be focused more on elected officials than on the civil servants who work in key agencies,” Murray said.

While health agencies received 65% approval from respondents, only 42% say Congress has done a good job. The worst reviews from poll respondents came when they were asked about their fellow citizens. Only 38% say the American public has done a good job dealing with the outbreak, but 45% say it has done a bad job.

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In addition to approving of governors’ responses, most Americans agree that the pandemic is the most influential factor in their life right now. Without being prompted, nearly 6 in 10 Americans (57%) named the coronavirus outbreak as the biggest concern currently facing their family. Only 7% named unemployment and job security as their biggest issue, 6% named paying everyday bills, 5% named healthcare, and another 5% named the economy. 

“The coronavirus outbreak has probably heightened the economic and health care anxieties we usually see at the top of this list,” Murray said. “But the huge number of people who name COVID-19 as their top concern on this standard polling question illustrates just how all-consuming this pandemic has become in Americans’ daily lives.”

The poll was conducted by telephone from March 18 to 22, 2020 with 851 adults in the United States and has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.