Oct 27, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans believe the federal government's handling of the pandemic has gotten significantly worse over time, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Every other institution measured in Week 29 of our national poll — from state and local governments to people's own employers and area businesses — won positive marks for improving their responses since those panicked early days in March and April.

  • The findings suggests people see President Trump and his political team as one of the biggest impediments to turning things around.
  • With one week left in the presidential election, as the U.S. hits all-time daily highs for new cases, four in five Americans say they're worried about COVID-19 outbreaks.

By the numbers: 26% of Americans said the federal government's handling of the virus is better than it was at the beginning, but 46% say it's actually gotten worse (and another 27% saw no change), for a net deficit of 20 percentage points.

  • Barely half of Republicans said the federal government's handling has improved while one in five said it has gotten worse. Only one in 10 Democrats and one in four independents said it improved.
  • Those sentiments fit with other measures in the survey: 62% said the federal government is making the country's recovery worse, an assessment essentially unchanged since the summer. And just one-third of respondents trust the federal government to provide them with accurate information about the virus.

Between the lines: Concerns are directed more at the political arm of the federal government than at scientists.

  • On its own, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention won net positive ratings (+10) — 33% said it improved it's handling, while 23% said it declined and the rest saw no change.

What they're saying: The coronavirus "is the issue of this election," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.

  • "People are just looking around at the facts on the ground and at the end of the day there's been no coordinated response to the coronavirus at the national level."
  • At the local level, by contrast, people see "specific, concrete things" like stickers on the ground for social distancing at stores where they shop, or modifications to schooling.
  • "When they think of the federal government, they're just thinking of the overall mess. There's no end in sight. The number of cases are only increasing."

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Oct. 23-26, 2020, by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,079 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 3.3 percentage points.
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