Less than three months have passed since Joe Biden took office as President of the United States, but many Americans have already started reaching conclusions about his handling of the coronavirus crisis. In the latest research conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, we look at how American voters think Biden is handling the crisis, and, in this piece in particular, how they think it compares to their state’s handling of the pandemic.
Overall, our research suggests that many 2020 Joe Biden voters who last summer expressed support for states having more power on public health matters have now shifted their views and think the federal government should have the most power.
Our latest research finds that 60% of American respondents approve and 21% disapprove of President Biden’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, with a further 17% saying they neither approve nor disapprove. Despite the overall majority support for Biden’s handling of the crisis, there is in fact stark polarisation: only 22% of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020 approve of how Joe Biden is handling the crisis, compared to 94% of Biden’s own voters.
Mirroring these figures, 61% think the United States Government is currently taking the right measures to address the coronavirus pandemic, whereas 26% think that it is not. The proportion of respondents who believe the US Government is currently taking the right steps in this regard varies little by gender, age, or region.
Similar to public sentiment at the national level, our polling also finds that 59% of respondents think the government of their state is currently taking the right measures to address the pandemic, whereas 31% disagree. Interestingly, those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 are far more likely to think that their state’s government is taking the right measures to address the pandemic (71% think so) than those who voted for Donald Trump (48% think their state’s government is taking the right measures, and 42% think it is not).
Despite the fact that similar proportions think the U.S. Government and the government of their state are taking the right measures to address the pandemic, we find that at present, 47% agree and 23% disagree that the coronavirus crisis has shown that public health is better managed on a state-by-state basis than at the federal level. These figures represent a decline since last summer in the percentage of respondents who think public health is better managed at the state level: back in June 2020, 57% had agreed and only 12% had disagreed with this statement.
In June 2020, the proportion of likely Trump voters and likely Biden voters who agreed that public health is better managed at the state level was identical (60%). Now, several months after the Presidential Election and after Joe Biden taking office, we now find that 2020 Donald Trump voters are more likely to agree (57%) than 2020 Joe Biden voters (42%) that the coronavirus crisis has demonstrated that public health is better managed on a state-by-state basis.
Overall, our research points to a significant proportion of Joe Biden voters having favoured public health being handled on a state-by-state basis at a time when Donald Trump was President, but now saying it is better handled at the federal level, since Joe Biden is now President. On the other hand, there have been virtually no changes in the strong majority of Donald Trump voters who prefer states being in charge of managing public health. Although we must be careful to avoid extrapolating from limited data points, these figures suggest that some voters are susceptible to changing their views on states’ powers and federalism on the basis of which party holds the most power at the federal level.