Half of Republicans think US on the wrong track, a first for Trump

July 24, 2020, 2:00 PM UTC

Americans see the country as troubled. It is a feeling shared by both Democrats and Republicans, with GOP contentment with the country’s direction at its lowest point during the Trump administration. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, only 38 percent of Republicans believe the country is on the right track, down eight points in just the last week. 

Half of Republicans (50%) now believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, though that is still less than the public overall. Two-thirds of Americans (68%) say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Typically, those who identify with the political party of the incumbent President feel better about the state of the country. They still do, but their optimism is slipping. 

It may be that the spread of the coronavirus to more Republican states has affected GOP opinion about the state of the country and about its president. One in five Republicans (21%) now disapprove of the way the president is handling the COVID-19 outbreak. This is the highest percentage of Republicans polled during the pandemic saying this. The majority of Republicans, however, still approve (76%) of how President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak. 

Those who live in the Northeast, the first of the United States’ COVID-19 hotspots, are far more likely than people in other regions to believe the worst of COVID-19 is over where they live (37%). In the South, where cases are now soaring and many hospitals are overwhelmed, only 17 percent believe the worst is behind them. 

Southern Republicans are somewhat more hopeful, with a third saying the worst is behind them in their community, but 28% think it will get even worse (as the President admitted on Tuesday) where they live.   

A majority (57%) of those who live in the South recognize that cases in their communities are increasing, so do 45 percent of Southern Republicans. The cause of the increase in cases is more often attributed to the economic reopening than to increased testing (70% cite reopening, 47% increased testing), though Republicans are slightly more likely to blame testing (60%) as reopenings (55%).  

COVID-19: Personal Effects

Concern about what is happening where they live has an effect on behavior: those in the South (87%) and Republicans (85%) are more likely than ever to be wearing face masks. Republicans have become less trusting in state governments’ ability to deal with the virus. This week, a majority of Republicans (56%) describe their state’s handling the impact of the virus as only fair or poor. That’s the first time a majority of Republicans have said this.  

COVID-19: Government Response

Related: In-person K-12 school instruction unpopular among voters, but sizable urban-rural divide

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

Methodology: The most recent Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US adult citizens interviewed online between July 19 - 21, 2020. The approximate margin of error is 3.2 percentage points for the overall sample. Samples are weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. 

Image: Getty