Skip to main content
CloseSearch

US Not Handling Covid As Well As Other Countries

Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

Drop in pandemic ratings for governors, health agencies

West Long Branch, NJ – President Donald Trump continues to receive poor marks for his response to the coronavirus outbreak, as a majority of the American public believes the U.S. is handling the pandemic worse than other countries. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll also finds a decline in what had been overwhelmingly positive ratings for federal health agencies and state governors. Most Americans are hopeful that they will be able to get back their lives to normal once the outbreak subsides, but few expect that to happen anytime soon.

Most Americans (52%) think the United States’ handling of the pandemic is worse than other countries. Just 15% feel the U.S. is a doing a better job than others and 29% say it is doing about the same. Currently, 22% of the public says the country is headed in the right direction while 72% says it is on the wrong track. The “wrong track” number has been above 70% since early June.

Less than 4 in 10 (38%) Americans express confidence that the country will be able to limit the impact of the outbreak over the next few weeks. This level of confidence is similar to polls taken in late June (37%) and early June (43%), but is lower than May (50%), April (53%), and March (62%). It is worth noting that the number of people who are not at all confident in the country’s ability to limit the outbreak has consistently ticked up between 2 and 6 points each month. Lack of any confidence started out at just 15% in March before rising to 32% in late June and 38% in the current poll.

“There appears to be a growing sense that the U.S. does not have a handle on this pandemic, especially when Americans see other countries opening up without the uptick in cases we see here,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Public opinion of Trump’s handling of the pandemic remains negative. Currently, 40% say he is doing a good job and 57% say he is doing a bad job. This rating stood at 40% good job and 54% bad job in late June. His best rating on dealing with the outbreak was 50% good job and 45% bad job back in March.

The president’s overall job approval rating is holding steady at 41% approve and 53% disapprove, which is identical to his rating in late June. His best job rating in the Monmouth poll since taking office was 46%–48% in March this year. Trump earns an 88% approve to 7% disapprove rating from his fellow Republicans, 33%–58% from independents and 8%–89% from Democrats.

The Monmouth University Poll also finds that Americans continue to be more satisfied with the outbreak measures taken by their state than they are with Washington’s response, although agreement has declined for both levels of government. Just 30% say the measures taken by the federal government to slow the spread of the virus have been appropriate while 58% say they have not gone far enough, and another 10% say they have gone too far. At the end of June, 34% said federal measures were appropriate, 54% said they had not gone far enough, and 9% said they went too far.

Less than half (44%) of the American public says the outbreak measures taken by their state government have been appropriate, another 36% say their state has not gone far enough, and 19% say their state has gone too far. At the end of June, 50% said their state measures were appropriate, 31% said they had not gone far enough, and 16% said they went too far.

In states led by Democratic governors, 49% of residents say their state’s actions to slow the pandemic have been appropriate, 26% say they have not gone far enough, and 23% say they have gone too far. In states led by Republican governors, 38% of residents say their state’s actions have been appropriate, 48% say they have not gone far enough, and 13% say they have gone too far.

The public remains cautious about reopening the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Six in ten (61%) are more concerned that states are lifting restrictions too quickly compared with 31% who are more concerned this is happening too slowly. These results have been fairly consistent since May.

“In the absence of a unified national response, people have been looking to their state governors for leadership. But as the pandemic continues, that goodwill is starting to wear thin,” said Murray.

State governors as a group have seen a decline in their pandemic rating, sliding below 60% for the first time since the outbreak. Currently, 57% say their state’s governor is doing a good job handling the outbreak and 35% say they are doing a bad job. In early June, governors’ good job rating stood at 67%. This rating was consistently above 70% in polls taken prior to that.

Opinion of the performance of federal health agencies has also declined. Currently, 46% say these agencies are doing a good job and 43% say they are doing a bad job handling the pandemic. The “good job” number for federal health agencies consistently exceeded 60% during the first months of the pandemic before dipping to 57% in early June.

Looking at the pandemic’s impact closer to home, Covid remains a top-of-mind concern for Americans, although less so than at the start of the outbreak. Currently, 39% cite the pandemic when asked to name the biggest concern facing their family right now. This far outpaces direct mentions of economic issues, such as jobs and employment (10%), paying bills (8%), and the economy in general (7%). In March, a solid majority (57%) of the public named the coronavirus outbreak as their family’s top concern. Similar proportions of all partisan groups mention the pandemic as their biggest issue, including 44% of Democrats, 40% of Republicans, and 36% of independents in the current poll. This is down from 62% of Democrats, 57% of Republicans, and 53% of independents who said the same in March.

“Americans have adapted to the new reality, but some have done this by simply ignoring the social distancing guidelines. And that has not helped alleviate concerns about the continued spread of this virus,” said Murray.

Just 26% say the American public has done a good job dealing with the outbreak while 62% say their fellow Americans have done a bad job. This is similar to Monmouth poll results in late June (28% good job and 59% bad job). Feelings about our neighbors’ behavior was more positive in early June (46% good job to 43% bad job) and May (51% to 33%). Current sentiment about the American public’s behavior in response to the pandemic is worse than it was at the outset of the crisis (38% good job to 48% bad job in April and 38% to 45% in March).

More than 2 in 3 Americans are worried about someone in their family becoming seriously ill from the virus, including 41% who are very concerned and 28% who are somewhat concerned. This level of concern has been fairly consistent over the past three months. A majority (53%) say their stress level has gone up during the outbreak, 5% say it has actually gone down, and 42% say it is unchanged. These results are similar to Monmouth’s April poll (55% gone up, 5% gone down, 40% stayed the same).

Despite concerns about the continued spread of the virus and increased stress levels, the vast majority of Americans remain hopeful that they will be able to get their lives back to normal after the outbreak, including 55% who are very hopeful and 36% who are somewhat hopeful. Still, the very hopeful number is down from April, when it stood at 69%. Republicans (76%) are just as likely to be very hopeful as they were four months ago (76%), while this level of positivity has declined among Democrats (from 64% in April to 39% now) and independents (from 68% in April to 52% now).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 6 to 10, 2020 with 868 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?

  TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Approve41%41%42%43%44%46%44%43%
Disapprove53%53%54%51%49%48%50%52%
(VOL) No opinion7%7%4%6%6%6%5%5%
 (n)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)(902)(903)
  TREND:
Continued
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April 2019March 2019Jan.
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Approve43%43%41%40%41%40%40%44%41%43%43%43%41%39%42%
Disapprove50%51%53%53%50%52%54%51%54%49%50%46%50%54%50%
(VOL) No opinion8%6%6%7%9%8%6%5%5%8%7%11%9%8%8%
 (n)(903)(908)(1,161)(800)(751)(802)(801)(802)(805)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(806)
  TREND:
Continued
Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Approve32%40%41%39%39%43%
Disapprove56%49%49%52%53%46%
(VOL) No opinion12%11%10%9%8%11%
 (n)(806)(1,009)(805)(800)(1,002)(801)

2. Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

  TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Right direction22%18%21%33%30%39%37%37%
Wrong track72%74%74%60%61%54%57%56%
(VOL) Depends4%5%4%4%5%4%6%6%
(VOL) Don’t know2%3%1%3%5%3%1%1%
(n)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)(902)(903)
  TREND:
Continued
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Right direction32%30%30%28%31%29%28%29%35%35%40%33%31%37%
Wrong track56%61%61%62%62%63%62%63%55%57%53%58%61%57%
(VOL) Depends8%7%6%8%6%4%7%6%7%6%3%5%6%3%
(VOL) Don’t know4%2%2%2%2%3%3%2%3%3%3%4%1%3%
(n)(903)(908)(1,161)(800)(751)(802)(801)(802)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(806)
  TREND:
Continued
Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Aug.
2016*
Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction24%32%31%35%29%30%24%28%23%27%23%28%
Wrong track66%58%61%56%65%65%66%63%68%66%69%63%
(VOL) Depends7%4%5%4%4%2%6%5%5%5%5%5%
(VOL) Don’t know3%5%3%5%2%3%4%3%3%2%3%4%
(n)(806)(805)(1,002)(801)(801)(803)(1,012)(1,001)(1,002)(1,005)(1,008)(1,012)

      * Registered voters

3. Turning to issues closer to home, what is the biggest concern facing your family right now? [LIST WAS NOT READ]

TREND:   Aug.
2020
March
2020
April
2019
April
2018
Jan.
2017
Jan.
2015
Coronavirus/COVID-1939%57%n/an/an/an/a
Job security, unemployment10%7%7%9%14%16%
Everyday bills, groceries, etc.8%6%8%12%12%16%
The economy7%5%6%3%3%2%
Family illness, health4%3%3%3%3%4%
Health care costs4%5%19%13%25%15%
Education policy3%1%2%2%1%2%
Quality of government3%0%2%3%1%2%
Safety, crime3%1%3%3%3%2%
Housing, mortgage, rent2%1%2%4%3%4%
Civil rights1%0%3%1%3%n/a
College tuition, school costs1%0%3%4%4%10%
Retirement saving1%0%0%1%2%3%
Social Security, seniors1%0%3%3%3%2%
Taxes1%1%9%7%4%7%
Terrorism, national security1%0%1%2%2%1%
Trump as president1%1%1%1%1%n/a
Climate change, environment0%1%3%1%1%n/a
Guns, gun ownership0%0%1%2%n/an/a
Immigration0%0%5%4%3%1%
Other3%2%5%5%2%4%
Don’t know/No answer8%9%16%15%10%8%
(n)(868)(851)(801)(803)(801)(1,003)

4. How concerned are you about someone in your family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

     TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Very concerned41%41%37%42%50%38%
  Somewhat concerned28%26%32%28%33%32%
  Not too concerned18%17%14%14%9%18%
  Not at all concerned13%15%16%16%7%12%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%0%0%0%0%0%
  (VOL) Has already happened1%1%0%0%0%n/a
(n)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)

5. How confident are you that the country will be able to limit the impact of the outbreak over the next few weeks – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

     TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Very confident13%13%15%16%15%25%
  Somewhat confident25%24%28%34%38%37%
  Not too confident23%29%26%25%24%21%
  Not at all confident38%32%30%25%21%15%
  (VOL) Don’t know2%2%2%1%2%2%
(n)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)

[QUESTIONS 6 & 7 WERE ROTATED]

6. Have the measures taken by the federal government to slow the spread of the virus been appropriate, have they gone too far, or have they not gone far enough?

     TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Appropriate30%34%37%42%35%47%
  Gone too far10%9%12%10%7%6%
  Not gone far enough58%54%48%45%54%45%
  (VOL) Don’t know2%3%3%2%3%2%
(n)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)

7. Have the measures taken by your state government to slow the spread of the virus been appropriate, have they gone too far, or have they not gone far enough?

     TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Appropriate44%50%56%59%60%62%
  Gone too far19%16%20%17%8%9%
  Not gone far enough36%31%23%22%30%25%
  (VOL) Don’t know2%3%1%2%2%4%
(n)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)

8. Please tell me if each of the following has done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

       TREND:
Good Job

Bad Job
(VOL) Mixed,
depends
(VOL) Don’t
know

(n)
President Trump40%57%2%1%(868)
   — Late June 202040%54%4%3%(867)
   — Early June 202042%56%2%0%(807)
   — May 202042%51%4%2%(808)
   — April 202046%49%3%1%(857)
   — March 202050%45%3%1%(851)
      
Your state’s governor57%35%5%3%(868)
   — Late June 202065%28%5%2%(867)
   — Early June 202067%28%3%1%(807)
   — May 202073%22%3%2%(808)
   — April 202072%21%4%3%(857)
   — March 202072%18%4%6%(851)
      
The American public26%62%11%1%(868)
   — Late June 202028%59%11%3%(867)
   — Early June 202046%43%8%2%(807)
   — May 202051%33%13%2%(808)
   — April 202038%48%12%2%(857)
   — March 202038%45%14%3%(851)
      
Health agencies in the federal government46%43%6%4%(868)
    Late June 2020n/an/an/an/an/a
   — Early June 202057%34%5%3%(807)
   — May 202063%25%7%4%(808)
   — April 202066%25%4%4%(857)
   — March 202065%24%8%4%(851)
      

9. Do you think the United States is handling the pandemic better, worse, or about the same as other countries?

   Aug.
2020
Better15%
Worse52%
About the same29%
(VOL) Depends1%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(868)

10. Are you more concerned that states are lifting restrictions too quickly or that states are not lifting restrictions quickly enough?

    TREND:Aug.
2020
Late June
2020*
Early June
2020*
May
2020*
Too quickly61%64%60%63%
Not quickly enough31%27%32%29%
(VOL) Not concerned either way3%4%5%5%
(VOL) Don’t know5%4%3%2%
(n)(868)(867)(807)(808)

*Question wording in May was “…that states will start lifting …” and in June was “…that states are starting to lift …”

11. How much has your daily stress level changed during the outbreak – has it gone up, gone down, or stayed about the same?  [Has it gone up/down a lot or a little?]

    TREND:Aug.
2020
April
2020
Gone up a lot34%27%
Gone up a little19%28%
Stayed the same42%40%
Gone down a little2%3%
Gone down a lot3%2%
(VOL) Don’t know1%0%
(n)(868)(857)

12. And are you very hopeful, somewhat hopeful, not too hopeful, or not at all hopeful that you and your family will be able to get your lives back to normal after the outbreak is over?

    TREND:Aug.
2020
Early June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
Very hopeful55%53%63%69%
Somewhat hopeful36%38%28%26%
Not too hopeful5%5%5%3%
Not at all hopeful2%3%2%1%
(VOL) Don’t know2%1%1%1%
(n)(868)(807)(808)(857)

[Q13-27 previously released.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 6 to 10, 2020 with a national random sample of 868 adults age 18 and older. This includes 302 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 566 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
28% Republican
41% Independent
31% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
37% 55+
 
64% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
69% No degree
31% 4 year degree
  

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs