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Governor Ratings for Communicating COVID-19 Plans Slip

Governor Ratings for Communicating COVID-19 Plans Slip

Story Highlights

  • Less than half of Americans now rate their governor positively on COVID-19
  • Governors still rated far better than President Trump or CDC
  • Confidence in both Republican and Democratic governors fell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the first time since Gallup began tracking U.S. leaders' handling of the coronavirus pandemic last June, state governors receive less than majority support for the job they are doing of communicating a clear plan to deal with the virus.

The percentage of Americans agreeing their state governor has communicated well slipped to 47% in December from 51% in November. At the same time, ratings of President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control for communicating a clear plan were unchanged at a much lower level, with just over 30% of Americans rating them positively.

U.S. Leadership Ratings on the Coronavirus

Line graph. Trend since June in percentages of U.S. adults rating their state governor, President Trump and the CDC positively for communicating a clear plan to deal with the coronavirus. The 47% rating for governors in December is down from 51% in November and the lowest yet in the trend. Ratings of Trump and the CDC have been stable throughout the trend near 30%, including 32% rating the CDC positively in December and 31% rating Trump positively.

These findings are based on a Gallup question asking respondents to indicate, using a five-point numeric scale, whether they agree or disagree that each has communicated a clear plan 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.

The latest results are based on more than 3,000 U.S. adults interviewed by web Dec. 15, 2020, to Jan. 3, 2021, using Gallup's probability-based web panel.

President-elect Joe Biden, who was added to the list in October, is rated about as well as state governors, with 46% agreeing he has communicated a clear COVID-19 plan. This is identical to his November reading but a bit better than his 41% score in October.

Satisfaction With Governors Fell in the West and South

There was a clear geographic aspect to the recent decline in governor ratings. Americans living in the West and South grew significantly less satisfied with their governors' communication about COVID-19 plans, while the views of those living in the Northeast and Midwest didn't change.

Although new COVID-19 infections and deaths were up nationwide in December, particularly high spikes in California and in parts of the South may account for the decrease in public confidence in governors' handling of the situation in these regions.

State Governor Ratings on the Coronavirus, by Region

Line graph. Trend since June in percentages of Americans rating their state governors positively for communicating a clear plan on the coronavirus. As has been the case most months, residents of the Northeast are the most positive, at 58%, while residents of the South are the least (40%). In the last month, views of governors were stable in the Midwest and Northeast while down in the South and West.

These recent regional changes only accentuate the pattern seen throughout the pandemic whereby residents of the Northeast have been the most positive about their governors' performance in communicating a clear plan during the pandemic, while residents of the South have been the least positive.

Governors of Both Parties Rated Less Well in December

Residents in states led by Democratic governors have consistently been more positive about their governor's communication on the coronavirus than have residents in states with Republican governors.

That pattern continued in December, although ratings of governors of both parties fell to their lowest yet. Fifty-four percent of residents in Democratic states now agree their governor has communicated a clear plan, down from 59% in November, and 39% say the same in Republican-led states, down from 43%.

State Governor Ratings on COVID-19 by Party of Governor

Line graph. Trend since June in state governor ratings for communicating a clear plan on the coronavirus, broken out by residents living in states led by Democratic versus Republican governors. Residents in Democratic-led states have consistently been more satisfied with their governors' performance than residents in Republican-led states. Both groups' ratings fell slightly in December, to 54% among residents of Democratic states and to 39% among those in Republican states.

Bottom Line

With confirmed new COVID-19 infections skyrocketing in the U.S. since November, it may have been inevitable that Americans' ratings of their own governors for their handling of the situation would decline as happened in December. Governors' ratings as a whole did not decline by much, and they didn't decline in all regions of the country, but governors of both parties were affected.

Cases have continued to rise in January at the same time that states are focused on distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Gallup's next update of these ratings in February will reveal whether Americans' satisfaction with the communication they are receiving from governors about COVID-19 plans improves amidst the vaccine rollout or remains lower until infections get under better control.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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