Apr 7, 2020 - Health

Public wants federal government, not states, in charge on coronavirus

Data: KFF Health Tracking Poll, March 25-30, 2020; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: KFF Health Tracking Poll, March 25-30, 2020; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Trump has repeatedly said that he sees the federal government’s role as “backup” to the states on the response to coronavirus. But Americans want the federal government — not states — to take the lead, according to our latest KFF tracking poll.

Why it matters: States have so far been the ones issuing specific directives about social distancing, and are also trying to source health care supplies.

By the numbers: 60% of the people we surveyed said the federal government should be primarily responsible for the coronavirus response, almost double the 32% who say their own state should be primarily responsible.

Yes, but: More than half — 52% — say their state is actually leading the response, not the federal government.

  • There’s a big partisan breakdown in these perceptions.
  • Nearly seven in 10 Democrats say their state is leading the response, while 53% of Republicans say it’s the federal government.
  • People in states with stay-at-home orders are more likely to say their state government is leading the response.

The bottom line: The public seems to believe that in a health crisis of this magnitude, with a virus that doesn’t stop at state or international borders and the death toll mounting, a more uniform and aggressive national response is needed.

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