Americans' coronavirus conduct prompts growing frustrations: poll

National poll also spotlights a plunge in public confidence about getting the pandemic under control

Amid new spikes in coronavirus cases afflicting most states across the country, a national poll released on Wednesday indicates people are increasingly critical of the job fellow Americans are doing dealing with the pandemic.

According to a Monmouth University survey, just 28 percent of those questioned say the American public is doing a good job coping with the outbreak, with 59 percent saying they’re doing a bad job.

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That’s a dramatic shift from May, when 51 percent gave a thumbs up to how Americans were dealing with the coronavirus and just a third had a negative view.

Current opinions about the public’s behavior in responding to the pandemic are worse now than in March (38 percent citing a good job; 45 percent saying bad job), when the virus swept across the nation, forcing most Americans to huddle in their homes to prevent the spread of the virus, which caused a freefall in the nation’s economy and forced tens of millions of people from their jobs.

Following President Trump’s lead the past two months, many states started relaxing social distancing and other restrictions in order to jump-start the economy. Many of the states that heeded the president’s advice – among them Arizona, Texas, and Florida – are now experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases. Many of these states have paused or rolled back efforts to loosen restrictions.

“Some governors have dialed back their state’s reopening plans because of images of large groups showing a blatant disregard for social distancing. These poll results suggest that most people look at their fellow Americans’ behavior and say ‘This is why we can’t have nice things,’” Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray highlighted.

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The poll also spotlights a plunge in public confidence about getting the pandemic under control. In March, 62 percent felt at least somewhat confident that the country would be able to limit the outbreak’s impact in a few weeks. That confidence level now stands at 37 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of those questioned (64 percent) say they’re more concerned about states that are starting to lift restrictions too quickly, compared to just over a quarter (27 percent) who say they’re more worried that the loosening of restrictions is occurring too slowly.

But there’s a massive partisan divide. Nine in 10 Democrats and 6 in 10 independents are more concerned about states lifting restrictions too quickly, with just 42 percent of Republicans feeling the same way.

“Partisanship seems to be the driving force in both opinions and behaviors related to the pandemic. Even when local conditions objectively change, the partisan filter dominates how people interpret this crisis,” Murray emphasized.

Four in ten of those polled say the president’s doing a good job steering the federal response to the pandemic, with 54 percent giving Trump a thumbs down.

The president’s overall job rating stands at 41 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval, down from 46-48 percent in March.

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But as expected, there’s an extremely wide partisan gap. Eighty-two percent of Republicans approve of the job the president’s doing. But Trump’s approval drops to 36 percent among independent voters and to 9 percent among Democrats.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted June 26-30, with 867 adults nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s overall margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.