Donald Trump’s approval rating on the handling of the coronavirus outbreak took a dip after he called for the United States to “reopen” by Easter, a date that was contested by medical experts who said that doing so could put millions of Americans at risk of contracting the virus.
The Poll from The Hill/HarrisX showed that Trump’s approval rating dropped six percentage points in a three-day span following his statements that he wanted to end shutdown measures and get Americans back to work as soon as possible. The poll conducted from March 26-27 showed that 50 percent of registered voters approved of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, compared to 56 percent in a poll taken from March 22-23.
As The Hill noted, the drop came largely from Republicans. Trump’s support among voters from his own party dropped from 86 percent in the previous poll to 76 percent in the more recent one. Support among Democrats remained steady at 29 percent, down from 30 percent in the previous poll, while support among Independents dropped seven points to 48 percent.
The dip came as Trump faced criticism for calls to reopen the country and get people back to work, calls which critics said were related to the downturn in the economy but that went against the advice of medical experts. Trump said he would like to see the country “raring” to go by Easter, on April 12. Trump also made statements comparing the COVID-19 outbreak to the flu, which experts have said is inaccurate and misleading, given the more deadly nature of the current outbreak.
Trump also had a series of contentious encounters with reporters over the course of the last week, including telling a reporter that people were “lucky” he was in office.
“You’re lucky that this group is here right now to deal with this problem or you wouldn’t even have a country left,” Trump said at the briefing.
Robert Griffin, research director at Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, told The Hill that the ratings are higher than Trump’s normal approval rating because Americans are rallying around the leader in a time of crisis.
“The important thing about a ‘rally ’round the flag effect’ is that it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the actions that are being taken by the government at that time,” he told The Hill.
“It has a lot more to do with the American public’s response to a crisis. They want to give leaders a little bit of lee-way, they want to give them the benefit of the doubt, in a time when the country is in crisis.”