Analysis: The Public Doesn't Trust Or Support Trump's Coronavirus Response

This is the fourth piece in NDN's weekly Thursday polling round-up. You can find the previous three weeks' pieces herehere, and here.

In recent weeks, we've discussed how the Presidential race continues to solidly lean towards the Democrats while the race for the Senate majority has become far more competitive to the point where it likely slightly favors the Dems. An important rationale for these developments (as well as a key factor for how the campaign will change going forward) is that the public, after a short "rally around the flag" moment, has begun to strongly disapprove of the President's response to the coronavirus crisis.

According to FiveThirtyEight's polling aggregate, the public's approval of Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak peaked at net +3.5 (49.7/46.2) on March 25th. Since then, Trump's approval on this metric has steadily declined, and today it stands at net -9.2 (43.3/52.5) - its lowest level since this metric was created in mid-February. Importantly, this decline has taken place while governors' approval ratings continue to surge. In a new Washington Post poll released earlier this week, voters' approval of Trump's handling of coronavirus was -13 (43/56) while voters' approval of their governor's handling of the crisis was +41 (71/27). In particular, governors who Trump has openly attacked over the past month - Cuomo in NY, Whitmer in MI, and Pritzker in Illinois - have very strong approval ratings on their handling of coronavirus. Cuomo has net approval of +63 (81/18), Whitmer +47 (72/25), and Pritzker +41 (71/27).

Not only do voters not support what the President has done to respond to this crisis, they also don't trust the information that he is telling them regarding coronavirus. In a recent CNN poll, voters didn't trust the information that Trump was providing by a 26 point margin (36% trust, 62% didn't trust). By contrast, voters trusted Dr. Fauci by a 47 point margin (67/20), the CDC by a 52 point margin (74/22), and CNN by a 15 point margin (55/40).

Furthermore, the new narrative that Trump has latched onto - that "the cure is worse than the cause" and the country now needs to open up to support the economy ("Liberate!") - remains exceedingly unpopular among voters. According to new Navigator Research polling, when asked which concerned them more, 63% of voters said "ending social distancing too soon and prolonging the pandemic" while only 27% said "social distancing going on for too long and harming the economy". Similarly, 80% of voters said either that the current level of social distancing is right (40%) or that we need more aggressive social distancing (36%), while only 16% said that we need to relax current social distancing restrictions. 

Taken together, it is clear that the public doesn't support Trump's response to this crisis, doesn't trust him to tell the truth about it, and overwhelmingly opposes his new re-opening strategy. As always, below you can find a detailed aggregate of the most important polling data (in our view) for understanding where the 2020 election currently stands. 

Links: 1234567, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Finally, something very odd has happened in Trump favorability polling over the past month. While older voters have long been a core constituency for the President (he won voters over age 65 by 8 points in 2016 while losing the overall vote by 2, and won them by 2 points in 2016 while losing the overall vote by 9), his support among voters over age 75 fell significantly in April. According to polling from PRRI, the percentage of people who viewed Trump favorably in 2019 was 46% among those 65-74 and 47% among those 75+. Similarly, in March 2020 his favorability was 54% among those 65-74 and 56% among those 75+. In April, however, his favorability collapsed to just 34% among those 75+, while it still held up at 45% among those 65-74. We will of course need more time and much more polling to see if this significant change among elderly voters holds up, but it is something to keep an eye on. Perhaps the high mortality rates that elderly people face from coronavirus has made them particularly opposed to the President's attempts to downplay the virus. If so, the President's chances of winning in 2020 would be all but zero.