Poll shows Americans turning against Trump

April 8, 2020
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With more than 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 14,000 deaths in the United States, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that Americans are souring on President Trump’s leadership during the pandemic.

After a brief period during which some polls found more Americans approving of Trump’s coronavirus response than not, half of them (50 percent) now disapprove, according to the Yahoo News/YouGov survey, compared to only 42 percent who approve. Among registered voters, that gap is even wider: 54 percent disapprove vs. 43 percent approve.

Likewise, only 38 percent of Americans are satisfied the Trump administration is doing everything it can to stop the virus; 47 percent say they are not satisfied. That spread — 9 percentage points — has more than doubled over the last two weeks.

The public figure who has earned the highest approval ratings for his work on the pandemic is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force.

Yet as the crisis increasingly hits home for Americans — 72 percent report now living under stay-at-home orders, up 20 points over the last two weeks, and 42 percent now say they have worn a face mask, up 30 points — Trump’s standing has suffered.

Of those who have heard from the president in the last seven days, a full 56 percent rate his performance as either fair or poor. Wide majorities also believe the president is doing only a fair or poor job on a variety of leadership metrics, including unifying the country (59 percent fair or poor); organizing the government’s response (56 percent fair or poor); communicating with the public (55 percent fair or poor); listening to scientists (57 percent fair or poor); relating to problems faced by average Americans (58 percent fair or poor); and taking bold actions (53 percent fair or poor). Each of those ratings has worsened since the previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll was conducted in late March.

Part of the reason for that decline may be that Americans increasingly blame Trump for the vast scale of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. Asked how much the president could have reduced the damage if he’d acted sooner, 65 percent said “a lot” (40 percent) or “somewhat” (25 percent). Only 36 percent said “slightly” (14 percent) or not at all (22 percent). Likewise, the percentage of Americans who say the Trump administration was not adequately prepared to deal with the deadly pathogen has risen from 51 percent a month ago to 63 percent today, while the percentage who say the administration was adequately prepared has fallen from 30 percent to 22 percent.

That’s a net shift of 20 percentage points — and it has been driven mostly by Republicans. One month ago, 15 percent of Republicans told Yahoo News and YouGov that the administration was not adequately prepared for the pandemic. Today, after the president has stopped dismissing the threat of the coronavirus and started predicting as many as 240,000 Americans could die from it, nearly twice as many Republicans (29 percent) think his administration did not adequately prepare.

More Americans than not — 45 percent to 32 percent — also say government officials should not encourage the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that could be deployed against COVID-19 but hasn’t been tested to show that it is effective or safe. Trump and others in the administration have advocated its use, although the doctors on the coronavirus task force have been more cautious. More than two-thirds (69 percent) think that Capt. Brett Crozier should not have been fired by acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly for demanding more help as the coronavirus spread through his ship. Trump called Crozier’s letter about the outbreak “terrible” and said he would “look into” the matter. Amid widespread criticism, Modly resigned on Tuesday.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

As a result, Americans say their own governor has done a better job handling coronavirus than Trump by a margin of nearly two to one (47 percent to 24 percent). The president trails even in states with a Republican governor (20 percent to 38 percent). Overall, 49 percent of Americans say they trust Fauci more than Trump, versus only 21 percent who say they trust Trump more than Fauci. Among those who have heard from him over the last week, Fauci’s “excellent” or “good” performance rating is nearly twice as high (79 percent) as the president’s (43 percent). 

The public also gives New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo high marks for his performance: 69 percent excellent or good. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden doesn’t fare nearly as well; 39 percent call Biden’s performance excellent or good, versus 61 percent who call it poor or fair. Yet 42 percent of Americans say they trust Biden more than Trump to handle the coronavirus. Only 36 percent say the opposite.

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