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How Governors, CDC and Trump Stack Up on COVID-19
Politics

How Governors, CDC and Trump Stack Up on COVID-19

How Governors, CDC and Trump Stack Up on COVID-19

Story Highlights

  • State governors as a group are rated well on aspects of pandemic leadership
  • Public thinks CDC cares about people's health, but question its planning
  • Trump rated poorly for communicating a clear plan and for caring

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- State governors as a whole are rated best by the American people across three measures of government leadership on the coronavirus or related health challenges, followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, lastly, President Donald Trump.

  • Majorities of Americans believe their governor cares about the safety and health of their community (63%) and has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus (54%); majorities also generally have confidence in that leader to successfully manage emerging health challenges (53%).

  • The CDC is rated positively for caring, but falls short of majority support for communication and instilling confidence in its management of health challenges.

  • Trump, on the other hand, gets low ratings on all three dimensions, with no more than 36% agreeing that he is succeeding at the task.

Americans' Ratings of U.S. Leaders' Performance in Handling Pandemic and Related Health Crises
% Agree with each statement^
Your state governor The CDC President Donald Trump
% % %
Cares about the safety and health of my community 63 53 36
Has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus 54 32 30
Have confidence in to successfully manage emerging health challenges 53 40 35
^ Agreement measured using a 5-point scale, where 1 means "strongly disagree" and 5 means "strongly agree"
Gallup Panel, Aug. 17-30, 2020

These findings are based on a nationally representative survey of 2,714 U.S. adults interviewed by web between Aug. 17-30, using the Gallup Panel.

Leader Ratings Have Been Fairly Steady Since June

Even as the rate of new COVID-19 infections in the United States surged and subsequently receded over the summer, Americans' views on these leaders' handling of the situation have changed relatively little.

By way of example, positive evaluations of Trump for communicating a clear plan of action have varied by less than 10 percentage points. Agreement that he has communicated a clear plan was highest in mid-June, at 35%, before sinking to a low of 27% in mid-July -- the point at which the COVID-19 infection rate was highest nationally. His positive rating has since ticked up to 30%, which is his average for the full span of this measure.

A similar pattern is seen for state governors, who, as a group, earned a 56% positive score in early June. That fell to 50% by mid-July and has now risen back to 54%. Meanwhile, ratings of the CDC have varied even less.

Line graph. Americans' views of whether state governors, the CDC and Donald Trump have communicated a clear plan of action on the coronavirus since mid-June. Currently, 54% of U.S. adults say their state governor has; 32% say the CDC has; and 30% say Trump has.

Democrats United in Strong Opposition to Trump's COVID-19 Leadership

As expected, there are sharp partisan differences in Americans' ratings of Trump's communication on the coronavirus; however, there is a notable difference in intensity.

Altogether, 79% of Republicans indicate they agree that Trump has communicated a clear plan, with 55% strongly agreeing. By contrast, 97% of Democrats disagree with this statement, including 93% who do so strongly.

Independents' views are similar to the national average, with 62% disagreeing, including 53% strongly.

Ratings of President Trump for Communicating a Clear Plan on the Coronavirus
1
"Strongly disagree"
2 3 4 5
"Strongly agree"
% % % % %
U.S. adults 56 5 9 9 21
Democrats 93 4 1 0 2
Independents 53 9 13 9 15
Republicans 3 3 15 24 55
Gallup Panel, Aug. 17-30, 2020

Ratings of CDC More Uniform by Party

By contrast, partisans offer fairly similar ratings of the CDC's communication on the coronavirus: 37% of Democrats and 31% of Republicans rate it positively overall.

And in contrast to their views of Trump, Republicans and Democrats are more likely to express moderate than strong views about the health agency's performance in communicating a clear plan, with many opting for the midpoint on the scale.

Ratings of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Communicating a Clear Plan on the Coronavirus
1
"Strongly disagree"
2 3 4 5
"Strongly agree"
% % % % %
U.S. adults 16 18 34 20 12
Democrats 16 21 29 20 14
Independents 6 18 38 20 19
Republicans 10 21 38 15 16
Gallup Panel, Aug. 17-30, 2020

Governor Ratings Tied to Partisanship

On average throughout the U.S., Democrats are a bit more approving than Republicans of their state governor's performance on communicating a clear plan to deal with the coronavirus. About six in 10 Democrats (59%) versus 54% of Republicans rate governors positively for this.

This slight difference mainly reflects the fact that Democrats are a bit more approving of Democratic governors' communication on the coronavirus (82%) than Republicans are of Republican governors' communication (70%).

Party Groups' Ratings of State Governor for Communicating on the Coronavirus -- by Party of Governor
Agreement that governor has a communicated a clear plan
Total agree (4,5) Neutral (3) Total disagree (1,2)
% % %
Republican governor
Democrats 29 25 47
Independents 46 28 26
Republicans 70 18 12
Democratic governor
Democrats 82 13 6
Independents 53 17 30
Republicans 32 21 47
Gallup Panel, Aug. 17-30, 2020

Additionally, Gallup has looked at ratings of governors' communication on the coronavirus solely by the party of the governor. As a group, Republican governors are rated less well than Democratic governors.

Sixty-one percent of residents in states led by Democratic governors versus 47% of residents in states led by GOP governors agree that their governor has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus.

This 14-point gap in ratings of Republican versus Democratic governors is close to the average in Gallup's trend since mid-June. As Gallup reported previously, Republican and Democratic governors' ratings were fairly similar in early June, but that was before infection rates began rising in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states in the nation's Sun Belt led by Republican governors who had taken more aggressive steps toward reopening their state economies.

After sliding a bit in June, the positive rating of Republican governors has since stabilized at the lower level, rather than worsening further.

Line graph. Ratings of state governors' communication of a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus since June. Currently, 61% of Democratic and 47% of Republican governors are rated positively for their communication of a clear plan of action.

Bottom Line

State governors across the U.S. are having more success than the CDC or Trump in instilling confidence in Americans that there is a clear plan for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and that they can handle other emerging health challenges. This is partly because there is a nearly even split in the proportion of Republican and Democratic governors serving in office today, giving large segments of their constituents who politically match the governor a partisan reason to be supportive. Beyond enjoying a solid partisan base of support, governors also enjoy more cross-party support for their performance than does Trump.

Governors' relatively positive image on handling the coronavirus as well as caring for people's welfare could be crucial in communicating with the public once a vaccine becomes available, helping people understand its safety and the importance of being vaccinated.

Meanwhile, despite being linked with a Republican White House, the CDC is not viewed in partisan terms. Neither is it viewed highly positively for its communication on the coronavirus, possibly in part because Trump himself has at times criticized and sidelined the agency, undermining the support it might normally expect to receive from Republicans. The CDC has, nonetheless, preserved a positive image on caring for the health and safety of people.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/320147/governors-cdc-trump-stack-covid.aspx
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