Toss-up states trust Joe Biden and governors more than President Trump on COVID-19

Linley SandersData Journalist
April 21, 2020, 3:45 PM UTC

When it comes to managing the national coronavirus response, Americans in toss-up states are now more likely to trust the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, over President Donald Trump, according to a Yahoo News/YouGov Poll.

Americans in states where either Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 49 percent to 51 percent of the vote in 2016 are more likely to trust Biden over Trump (45% vs 35%) to handle the pandemic response.

Trump appears to be losing ground on this issue. A Yahoo News/YouGov Poll from two weeks ago showed that Americans in toss-up states were slightly more likely to trust Trump over Biden (41% vs 37%) to handle COVID-19. A poll conducted in late-March found similar margins in favor of Trump (44% vs 39%). Given the smaller sample, the earlier polls would be well within the margin-of-error. 

Even the most recent poll showing a 10-point edge toward trusting Biden is not insurmountable given the small sample. But, it indicates that Trump is at-risk for slipping in states where the handling of COVID-19 remains an important issue. States that narrowly went for Trump in 2016 are now within the margin-of-error for trusting Trump over Biden (+3 points).

The novel coronavirus is likely to loom over the ongoing 2020 presidential race. The Yahoo News/YouGov Poll indicates that most Americans do not expect the country to be ready to reopen in the next few months, and most Americans (56%) believe that even if the spread of COVID-19 is stopped, economic recovery will not follow for at least a few months.

It’s not just Biden—swing state voters trust a number of figures over Trump. In toss-up states, a plurality of adults (47%) states believe their state governor is doing a better job than President Trump handling COVID-19. About three in 10 people (29%) say these leaders are handling the COVID-19 crisis equally well, and just a quarter (24%) believe Trump is doing a better job than their state official. 

In states that voted for Trump by the largest margin (55% of the 2016 vote or more), a plurality of individuals says that their state governor and President Trump (40%) are doing equally well. Nearly the same number say their state governor (38%) is doing a better job, while about two in five (22%) say that Trump is doing a better job.

There are similar margins when people are asked whether they trust their state governor or President Trump on the coronavirus. Two in five (41%) people in strong Trump states say they trust their state governor more than the commander-in-chief. One-quarter (25%) trust President Trump more than their state. One-third (34%) put their faith in both elected officials equally.

These Americans are also more likely to defer to their state government over the federal government on when localities should reopen. Three out of four Americans (75%) in toss-up states prefer that their state governor decide when their state should reopen. Just 6 percent prefer that President Trump make the decision. 

Methodology: The Yahoo! News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,597 U.S. adult residents interviewed online between April 17-19, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US residents. The margin of error is approximately 3 percent.

Related: When America believes the country will be ready reopen

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

Image: Getty