Saturday, March 14, 2020

What do Americans think of Trump's handling of the COVID-19 crisis?

It occurred to me to wonder how the whole COVID-19 pandemic thing might be affecting Donald Trump's re-election chances.
To me, he comes across as somewhat lost, bumbling and confused, with a poor grasp on the situation, and incapable of showing true leadership in a crisis situation. But then that is me coming from a strongly anti-Trump perspective, and based on the impressions gleaned from my liberal media bubble.
So, what do Republicans think of his handling of the situation? The latest poll results I can find shows that, over all, 53% disapprove of his handling of COVID-19, and 47% approve, which seems like a remarkably even-handed response to what appears to me to be a cut-and-dried example of failure. The split is, predictably enough, largely along party political lines, with 79% of Democrat-leaning voters disapproving of his performance (a surprising 21% seem quite happy with it!), and 82% of Republicans approving of it. Among "independents", 58% disapprove of his handling of the crisis, which might give Democrats some heart, but which is actually uncomfortably close to a 50-50 split.
Granted, this poll was taken before recent dramatic events like the cancellation or suspension of most sporting events, the continuing free-fall of the stock markets, the revelations that Trump had cancelled the Obama-instituted pandemic preparedness office, his controversial decision to suspend all flights from Europe (and now also from the UK and Ireland), Trump's rather disastrous Oval Office address, and his attempts to bribe a German pharma company into selling him a COVID-19 vaccine "only for the United States". But, all in all, it looks like the Teflon Man continues to be untouchable among his own supporters. Which is frankly unbelievable.

In fact, political affiliation seems to colour people's judgements of whether or not they even see COVID-19 as a major threat to day-to-day life. A Pew Research poll on March 20th concluded that 44% of Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents believe this, while only 26% of Republicans agree. Both sound distinctly on the low side, and the results may to some extent reflect the more urban profile of Democratic voters. But even so, that's a pretty significant difference.

It's confounding, it really is. The latest Gallup poll on Trump's job approval shows an overall 49% approval rate, up from 44% earlier this month, and equal to the highest approval levels in his whole presidency. His job approval remains at 92% among Republicans, but has increased 8% to 43% among independents, and increased nearly doubled among Democrats, up 6% to 13%!
It really seem that the more daft things he does, the more people like him. It makes you despair of Americans as a group.

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