Without question, governors are much closer to the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 than Donald Trump is, and they’re making a lot of decisions that affect people’s lives more directly than POTUS’s erratic maunderings and wavering advice. That also means that governors are more likely to be held responsible for risky measures that are unpopular or go wrong, from stay-at-home orders to business reopenings, not to mention the fiscal calamity that is descending on state capitals everywhere, even as the federal government prints money.
So at a time when Trump’s reelection is generally thought to be dependent on his handling of the pandemic, it’s pretty significant that a new 50-state poll shows every single governor has a higher rating for handling the coronavirus than Trump does in her or his state.
The survey of 22,000 respondents was conducted between April 17–26 by researchers from Harvard, Northeastern, and Rutgers Universities.
As Reid Wilson notes at The Hill, gubernatorial assessments vary significantly:
In Ohio, 83 percent of voters say they approve of the job Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has done to combat the virus, while 51 percent say the same of Trump’s response. In Kentucky, 81 percent like the job Gov. Andy Beshear (D) has done, compared to 51 percent who said the same of Trump.
Governors in California, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia all recorded approval ratings in the 70s. Only two governors — Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) — have approval ratings below 50 percent, though they still received higher marks than Trump.
That’s right: Noem, who has refused to issue any sort of stay-at-home orders despite a giant COVID-19 hot spot in her state, is still doing better with the home folks than Trump (49 percent approve of her performance, compared to 45 percent for Trump).
The “average gap” between Trump and governors in approval on handling coronavirus response is 22 points, with POTUS at 44 percent nationally and the average governor at 66 percent.
Trump is notably lagging in support in a number of states that will be battlegrounds in November:
Data on one particular group is notable, given their voting frequency and how affected they are by the pandemic: For those over 65, the approval/disapproval ratio of governors is 74/13, and for Trump it is 48/42.
The survey doesn’t show catastrophic numbers for Trump, but to the extent that he has been counting on positive reactions to his high-profile role managing the coronavirus crisis to counter the damage he may suffer from a collapsing economy, it’s striking how few people anywhere seem to look first to him for leadership.