Americans disapprove of US withdrawing from the World Health Organization

June 03, 2020, 4:00 PM GMT+0

Most Americans continue to worry about contracting coronavirus. They prioritize protecting the public from COVID-19’s health effects over protecting it from the virus’s economic impact by 62 percent to 38 percent. Even those who have personally experienced being laid off from work narrowly say protection from the virus’ health impact is more important than protecting the country from the economic impact. Many opinions have changed little.

But President Donald Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organization, and his announcement of a US withdrawal from the organization, did change opinions in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.

The president had threatened a withdrawal from WHO, chastised the organization for its early response to COVID-19, and claimed it favored China. Still, last week Americans mostly held a favorable view of the organization, though a majority of Republicans did not.

This week, favorable opinions of the World Health Organization have dropped 12 points, though the public remains positive towards WHO. Favorable opinions have slipped across the board — but only among Republicans did unfavorable views significantly increase (57% to 63%). Independents, who were favorably inclined toward the WHO last week, are now closely divided.

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In mid-April, as the president threatened US punishment of WHO, 47 percent overall held a favorable opinion and 37 percent were unfavorable. Despite the lack of overwhelming backing for the World Health Organization, Americans do not want to leave it. That is, except for Republicans, who support the president’s actions in taking the country out of WHO.

Last week, The Economist/YouGov asked those who wanted the United States to withdraw from the World Health Organization were asked to say why in their own words. For many, China was the culprit. Republicans—who made up the largest group of those who wanted the United States to withdraw — were particularly likely to cite a link to China, which had been one of the president’s major arguments for US withdrawal.

Despite this, Americans continue to trust WHO’s medical advice (43% to 28%). Trust dropped seven points from last week, when half (50%) trusted WHO’s advice, and about a quarter (27%) did not. The public also rejects the president’s suspension of US donations to WHO (44% to 36%). More than seven in 10 Republicans (72%) are in favor.

Even as President Trump pushes a withdrawal from the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus, his own approval rating this week for handling the coronavirus is among the lowest ratings he has seen. Disapproval for how President Trump is handling COVID-19 this week is at its highest level since the pandemic began.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll

Image: Getty