Results Show Continued Partisan Divide Over Federal Response, Despite Increasing Doubts About President’s Truthfulness
By Sara Gavin
Americans have become increasingly worried about the threat posed by COVID-19, but remain largely split along party lines on the Trump administration’s response to the growing pandemic, according to the results of a new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll.
Americans have become increasingly worried about the threat posed by COVID-19, but remain largely split along party lines on the Trump administration’s response to the growing pandemic, despite doubts about the president’s truthfulness, according to the results of a new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll.
Nearly half of respondents (47%) to the poll, which measured attitudes of a representative sample of 2,395 adults from March 12-20, said they are unsatisfied with the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 42% said they are satisfied, and 10% said they are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied.
A significant majority (81%) of Democrats said they are unsatisfied, and 79% of Republicans said they are satisfied. Among independents, a slight majority (51%) said they are dissatisfied, and 29% satisfied.
The dissatisfaction in the administration’s handling of the coronavirus threat fell from 49% in the first three days to 45% in the final three days. This appeared to hold across political parties.
The poll also found increasing public concern about the threat the crisis poses to people personally and the United States generally, said Shibley Telhami, director of the UMD Critical Issues Poll.
“This concern was matched by a slight drop in public dissatisfaction with the Trump administration handling of the crisis, as new dramatic measures were announced,” he said. “Still, those expressing dissatisfaction outnumbered those who expressed satisfaction, as the crisis failed to transcend the strong partisan divide.”
Overall, 56% of Americans are either somewhat worried or worried a great deal about the threat the virus poses to them personally, and 77% are worried about the threat to the nation. Over the nine-day period, these worries increased substantially in both categories. The percentage who said they are worried about personal threat jumped from 51% to 62% and those worried about the threat to the United States rose from 73% to 82%.
As other polls have found, Republicans are less worried about both threats: 44% said they are worried about the threat to them personally, compared with 68% of Democrats, and 53% of independents. Further, 68% of Republicans are worried about the threat to the U.S., compared with 86% of Democrats. However, as with the rest of the population, the number of Republicans worried about the threat to themselves and to the U.S. climbed over the nine-day period, from 38% to 49%, and 62% to 74%, respectively.
Confidence in Trump’s truthfulness remained low and worsened somewhat during the period the poll was conducted. Overall, 45% of Americans say that Trump never tells the truth while 20% say he tells the truth “some of the time.” Meanwhile, 24% believe he tells the truth “most of the time,” and 10% say he tells the truth “all of the time.” More people said the president never tells the truth in the last three days (46%) than in the first three (42%).
“The coronavirus pandemic is an evolving event, and so are the public's opinions about levels of concern and how the federal government is responding,” said Stella Rouse, associate director of the UMD Critical Issues Poll. “Findings from this poll indicate that public attitudes can shift in a short amount of time and also indicate that Americans can simultaneously hold some contradicting views: support for the Trump administration's response to the crisis, while at the same time not having a lot of trust in President Trump to tell the truth. As the crisis further evolves, it will be interesting to see if public opinion continues to change.”
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