As DeSantis and Abbott fight mask mandates, Republicans approve of the governors

August 20, 2021, 3:00 PM UTC

Two high-profile Republican Governors are earning accolades from their party as they oppose mask mandates in schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott have both banned local mask mandates (orders that have been challenged in the courts).

New Economist/YouGov data shows that the two governors have maintained popularity among Republicans as they each gear up for a fight with the Biden administration over masking. 

This poll was conducted before the announcement on Wednesday that Abbott had tested positive for COVID-19

Both DeSantis and Abbott have issued executive orders barring cities and school districts from implementing mask mandates, orders which have been challenged by school districts, parents, and the federal government. On Wednesday, after this poll was fielded, the Biden Administration announced that they would take action against governors who threaten to withhold funding from school districts that require students and teachers to wear masks. 

The two Republican governors receive positive marks from national Republicans in this poll. Three in five Republicans (60%) have a favorable view of DeSantis, compared to 9% with a negative view. Republicans view Governor Abbott positively by 48% to 8%. That being said, both governors earn a net negative rating among Americans overall (-9 for Abbott and -8 for DeSantis).

Perhaps one reason for the low overall score is that both governors reject national public opinion: Americans overall believe masking should be required in K-12 schools (52% say this), though partisanship affects opinion. Four in five Democrats (82%) support requiring masks in schools, compared to half of Independents (48%) and one-quarter (26%) of Republicans. 

Women (60%) are far more likely than men (44%) to support requiring masks in schools, and opinion in the South is much like national opinion (53% support it). Southern Democrats support requiring masks in schools (88% say they should be required and 4% do not), while Southern Republicans oppose mask mandates (31% support to 58% opposed). 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between August 14 - 17, 2021. This sample was 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. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample.  

Image: Getty