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Poll: Growing Gap In Approval For DeWine, Trump's Pandemic Responses

Gov. Mike DeWine at a Friday news briefing. [Andy Chow / Statehouse News Bureau]
Gov. Mike DeWine at a Friday news briefing.

A new poll from Baldwin Wallace University finds a widening gap in approval ratings for Gov. Mike DeWine and President Donald Trump’s coronavirus responses.

The poll surveyed roughly 800 registered Ohio voters on government COVID-19 response and the upcoming election. Previous BW polls have included multiple Midwestern states.

About 85 percent of Ohioans surveyed approve of the measures DeWine has enacted during the pandemic and 79 percent believe the governor began to put preventative measures in place at the appropriate time.

But just 50 percent said they approve of Trump’s efforts and 52 percent of respondents say the president waited too long to act.

“With Trump, it’s pretty partisan,” said researcher and BW Political Science Professor Robert Alexander. “He has a lot of support among Republicans, but very few Democrats trust what President Trump has to say. But when it comes to DeWine, he’s got support across the board.”

The gap between DeWine and Trump’s approval ratings has grown since a March BW poll, Alexander said.

“Back in March, we hypothesized that there was a bit of a rally-around-the-flag effect for Trump, and today we find that his approval rating for his handling of the pandemic has dropped by nearly 10 points,” Alexander said. “So over time, he’s not done as well.”

About half the respondents trust Trump to provide accurate information during the pandemic, compared to roughly 90 percent for DeWine. And 75 percent of those surveyed say DeWine has done a better job addressing the pandemic than the president.

“They’re both Republicans,” Alexander said. “So this isn’t necessarily a party issue. This is probably a leadership issue.”

About 48 percent of Ohioans surveyed said they had an unfavorable opinion of Trump overall. But at 75 percent, DeWine is enjoying a higher approval rating, and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, who is not an elected official, has the approval of about 64 percent of those polled.

On the lighter side, the survey also asked what drinks and snacks pair best with DeWine’s daily press briefings, which have become known on the internet as “wine with DeWine.” Wine and coffee are the most popular beverages, according to the poll, where the preferred snacks are chocolates or fruits and vegetables.

Despite recent protests at the Ohio Statehouse, about 89 percent of respondents support DeWine’s stay-at-home order. A majority of respondents said they are worried the protests will cause a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“The optics of [the protests] make it look like there’s a lot of opposition to the stay-at-home orders, but when asked more directly, a majority of Ohioans are supportive,” Alexander said.

However, respondents are split on whether they agree with opening the economy up starting May 1.

“The majority is still a little bit cautious about what they’re going to do, and whether or not the government should be opening these things up,” Alexander said. “It’s somewhat surprising in contrast to the protests we’ve been seeing.”

A majority of respondents said it was too early for many public spaces to reopen, including places of worship, salons, retail storefronts, day cares and restaurants. About 94 percent of Ohioans surveyed are concerned about the coronavirus’ impact on the economy, and 68 percent are concerned about its impact on their personal finances. And 70 percent say public health is more important than the economy.

The poll also found a dead heat in the race for the White House between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden: roughly 45 percent of Ohioans would probably or definitely vote for Biden if the election were held today, versus 44 percent for Trump – falling well within the poll’s 3.7 percent margin of error.

"Neither of them have very high favorable ratings," Alexander said. "In fact, both of them have pretty high unfavorable ratings, so that's not that different from what we saw with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump four years ago."

Asked who they would support as Biden’s running mate, Ohio respondents strongly supported either Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with 47 percent approval, or California Sen. Kamala Harris, with 41 percent approval of Ohioans.

BW will conduct two more surveys in the Midwest ahead of the 2020 Election in November.