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GOP Governors Losing Residents' Support on COVID-19
Politics

GOP Governors Losing Residents' Support on COVID-19

GOP Governors Losing Residents' Support on COVID-19

Story Highlights

  • Ratings of state governors' handling of coronavirus slipped in past month
  • Governor ratings are down most sharply in Republican states
  • Within GOP states, independents' views have soured most

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are broadly positive about the way their state governors are handling the COVID-19 crisis, but that sentiment has slipped in the past month as virus cases have skyrocketed in parts of the country. These modest declines mask particularly sharp downturns in the collective governor ratings of residents in states led by Republican governors, while the ratings of residents in states led by Democratic governors have been steady.

These findings are based on weekly surveys of roughly 3,500 U.S. adults conducted via Gallup's probability-based web panel.

Governor Ratings Down Slightly Since June

Gallup measures governor performance by asking respondents to indicate, using a five-point numeric scale, whether they agree or disagree with each of three statements about their governor's leadership on COVID-19. The results reported here reflect the combined percentages scoring their agreement at the highest level -- using a 4 or 5 on the scale.

Residents' agreement with each evaluation fell five percentage points between the week of June 8 and the week of June 29.

  • 51% now say their governor has communicated a clear clan of action for responding to the coronavirus, down from 56% in early June
  • 50% now say their governor keeps them informed about the pandemic, down from 55%
  • 59% now say they governor cares about the safety and health of their community, down from 64%
Americans' Agreement with Statements About Their State Governor's Handling of COVID-19
% Agree with each statement (rate 4-5 on 5-point agreement scale)
Jun 8-14 Jun 15-21 Jun 22-28 Jun 29-Jul 5
% % % %
Has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic 56 53 53 51
Keeps me informed about what is going on during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic 55 52 51 50
Cares about safety and health of my community 64 60 59 59
Gallup, 2020

Given the similarity in residents' ratings of their governor for communicating clear plans (51% overall now agree they are doing this) and keeping residents informed (50%), the analysis to follow focuses only on governors' communication on COVID-19 in addition to their perceived caring about the safety and health of their community (59%).

Republican Governors Seen as Less Effective, Caring

While governors' ratings for communicating about the virus and caring about their communities are down slightly, this is not uniform across the country but varies by the party of the sitting governor.

For this analysis, residents were sorted into two groups based on the political party of the governor: this includes residents in the 26 states currently led by Republican governors and residents in the 24 states led by Democratic governors.

There have been clear declines in residents' ratings of their governor in Republican-led states as a whole. This includes an 11-point decrease, from 54% in early June to 43% most recently, in those agreeing their governor is communicating a clear plan of action for addressing the pandemic. There has also been an eight-point decline, from 61% to 53%, in those agreeing their governor cares about the safety and health of the community.

RepGovs

Line graph. Weekly trends from June 8-July 5 in ratings of Republican governors as a whole for communicating a clear plan of action on the pandemic and for caring about the safety and health of their community.

Meanwhile, there has been no meaningful change in the governor ratings of residents in Democratic-led states as a whole.

DemGovs

Line graph. Weekly trends from June 8-July 5 in ratings of Democratic governors as a whole for communicating a clear plan of action on the pandemic and for caring about the safety and health of their community.

The decline in support for the way Republican governors are handling the coronavirus coincides with reports showing that the recent spike in new COVID-19 cases is mainly occurring among "red" states -- defined as those that backed Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Cases are declining, overall, in "blue" states (those that backed Hillary Clinton).

While not perfect, there is a high correlation between the party of the state governors and the states' vote for Clinton or Trump in the election. Thus, Republican governors are disproportionately the ones struggling right now to contain the virus.

GOP Governors Losing Most Support From Independents

Further analysis of the Gallup data shows that Republican governors lost the most support over the past month from political independents, with lesser declines seen among Republican residents. Democrats' already low ratings of their Republican governors' response to the situation were fairly flat by comparison.

The majority of independents in Republican-led states rated their governors positively at the start of June on all three dimensions; however, these evaluations slid 19 points to 39% for communicating a clear plan, fell 20 points to 37% for keeping residents informed and slipped 13 points to 47% for caring about the safety and health of the community.

Ratings of Republican Governors' Handling of COVID-19
By party ID of residents in Republican-led states
Democrats Independents Republicans
% % %
Has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation
Jun 8-14 37 58 73
Jun 15-21 32 43 67
Jun 22-28 36 37 67
Jun 29-Jul 5 32 39 59
Change since early June -5 -19 -14
Cares about safety and health of my community
Jun 8-14 44 60 83
Jun 15-21 39 60 77
Jun 22-28 41 39 81
Jun 29-Jul 5 40 47 76
Change since early June -4 -13 -7
Gallup, 2020

Democratic Governors See Slight Improvement in Independents' Reviews

Meanwhile, in states led by Democratic governors, independents' ratings of their governors' handling of the situation increased slightly in June, by six to eight points across the dimensions analyzed. Republicans living in these states also grew slightly more positive about their Democratic governors' leadership over the course of June, while Democratic residents' already high ratings didn't change much at all.

Ratings of Democratic Governors' Handling of COVID-19
By party ID of residents in Democrat-led states
Democrats Independents Republicans
% % %
Has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation
Jun 8-14 79 44 30
Jun 15-21 82 46 38
Jun 22-28 82 53 32
Jun 29-Jul 5 79 52 35
Change since early June 0 +8 +5
Cares about safety and health of my community
Jun 8-14 84 54 42
Jun 15-21 88 53 40
Jun 22-28 88 53 38
Jun 29-Jul 5 88 60 35
Change since early June +4 +6 -7
Gallup, 2020

Two patterns emerge from these changes:

  • While Republicans and Democrats living in states led by their own party were equally satisfied with their governor at the start of June, a month later, Democrats were significantly more positive about Democratic governor's leadership on the coronavirus situation than Republicans were with Republican governors.
  • Additionally, whereas at the start of June, political independents in Republican states initially gave their governor higher ratings than those in Democratic states, the reverse was true four weeks later.

Bottom Line

Republican governors, as a whole, are rated less well today by residents of Republican-led states than they were at the start of June. This coincides with a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections across the country, but particularly in red states, including most of the nation's Sun Belt.

Parallel ratings in the survey of President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) find that governors are better rated than both Trump and the CDC on all dimensions. However, in contrast to governors' declining ratings, the ratings of Trump and the CDC have been more stable. This suggests that the recent decline in Republican governors' ratings are a reflection of their own performance, not Trump's -- or they are at least being held responsible for rising illness in their own states.

The political implications of these trends aren't clear. There are only 11 gubernatorial elections this year, including seven involving Republican sitting governors, so their electoral exposure this year is low. However, Republican governors' reduced performance ratings could affect their ability to influence citizens to follow state guidelines or affect their clout with other state policymakers. And given the prominence of the COVID-19 crises, it could permanently shape how governors -- many of them in their first term -- are perceived by their constituents, ultimately influencing what happens at the ballot box in 2022 or beyond.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/315692/gop-governors-losing-residents-support-covid.aspx
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