Mar 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive poll: Public trusts health agencies more than Trump

Data: SurveyMonkey and Axios survey; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: SurveyMonkey and Axios survey; Table: Axios Visuals

Strong majorities of Americans trust the major health agencies to protect the country from the coronavirus, while fewer trust President Trump, according to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: The results suggest that health officials have a high degree of credibility in this crisis — and that Trump is on safer ground when he closes ranks with them, as he did in his unusually candid remarks about the outbreak at Monday's press conference.

Between the lines: There's no significant difference between Republicans and Democrats in terms of trust in agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and state health departments.

  • With Trump, however, the partisan differences on trust are pretty much what you'd expect. (Independents aren't split down the middle — only about three in 10 trust him.)
  • Trump's trust level on the coronavirus is slightly lower than his approval rating in the same survey: 47%. His average approval rating usually hovers around 42%, per FiveThirty Eight.

Another recent Axios-SurveyMonkey poll found significant partisan differences in how Americans are reacting to the crisis.

  • Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say they're likely to avoid large gatherings like sporting events or concerts (67% to 49%), public spaces like restaurants and theaters (53% to 37%), and social gatherings with friends and families (38% to 25%).

What to watch: Whether that gap narrows after Trump's somber acknowledgment at Monday's press conference that the virus isn't yet under control — and that the public's safety is in danger.

Methodology: This SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted March 9-13 among a national sample of 7,925 adults in the U.S. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.

The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

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