Nearly six in 10 Americans say actions taken by their state governments to combat the coronavirus pandemic have been appropriate, according to a new national public opinion survey.

And a Monmouth University Poll also indicates that most Americans say their states are handling the crisis better than Washington -- but the numbers reflect a public divide over whether they're going too quickly or slowly in moving to reopen the economy. Nearly two-thirds are concerned states will start lifting restrictions too quickly.

Further, the poll shows that President Trump’s approval ratings on how he’s handling the pandemic are edging down.


According to the survey, which was released on Tuesday, 59 percent say measures taken by their states have been appropriate, with 22 percent saying their state hasn’t gone far enough in reacting to the outbreak, and 17 percent saying their state’s gone too far. The percentage of people who say their state’s actions have been appropriate is virtually unchanged since Monmouth’s March poll. But the number who say their state hasn’t gone far enough has dropped 8 percentage points, with the number saying their state’s gone too far doubling.

Thirty percent of Republicans questioned say the restrictions implemented by their state to combat the coronavirus have gone too far. That number drops to 19 percent among independent voters and just 3 percent among Democrats.

The poll was conducted April 30 through May 4, as a growing number of states moved toward relaxing stay-at-home orders and other social distancing restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed say they’re more concerned that states will start lifting restrictions too quickly, with just 29 percent saying that the states are not acting quickly enough. And 56 percent say making sure as few people as possible get sick from the coronavirus is the more important factor when deciding whether to lift restrictions. A third say making sure the economy doesn’t fall into a deep and lengthy recession should be the most important factor.

There’s a wide partisan divide on this question, with 80 percent of Democrats and a plurality (49 percent) of independents saying health concerns should be prioritized. But a majority of Republicans (54 percent) say preventing an economic downturn outweighs health concerns.

The poll also indicates that Americans are more satisfied with the job their state’s doing compared with Washington. Just 42 percent say the measures taken by the federal government to slow the spread of the virus have been appropriate, with 45 percent saying they have not gone far enough and one in 10 saying they go too far. As expected, there’s also a partisan divide on this question, with 63 percent of Republicans but just 21 percent of Democrats satisfied with Washington’s response.

The lack of satisfaction with the federal government is a likely contributing factor in a decline in the president’s approval rating on combating the coronavirus pandemic. Just 42 percent give Trump a thumbs up on how he’s handling the federal response, down from 50 percent in March. Fifty-one percent now disapprove, up 6 points from March.


“The month to month shifts are well within the poll’s margin of error, but the overall trendline suggests that the public is growing less satisfied with Trump’s response to the pandemic,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said.

No surprise – there’s a massive partisan split, with 88 percent of Democrats giving the president a thumbs down and 88 percent of Republicans approving of the job he’s doing on the coronavirus. By a 52-38 percent margin, independents say he’s doing a bad job.

The survey also indicates that a majority – 55 percent – say the president’s been largely inconsistent in his coronavirus briefings from day to day, with 36 percent saying he’s been consistent.

“People are looking for a steady hand in a crisis. State officials and public health professionals have largely been consistent in their approach to the pandemic. This is one reason why satisfaction with their response has been high and stable throughout, unlike views of the president’s actions,” Murray said.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted using live telephone operators who questioned 808 adults nationwide. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.