Mar 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive poll: Public trusts health agencies more than Trump

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.

Go deeper

Poll: Americans' access to necessities worsens


Data: Axios/Ipsos survey of 1,092 U.S. adults, conducted March 13-16, 2020. Margin of error of ±3.2 percentage points; Chart: Axios Visuals

Even with the brunt of store closings yet to take effect, a full 45% of Americans said last week that their ability to buy food and household goods had deteriorated, according the newly launched Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

What it is: A weekly poll introduced last week by Axios and the global research firm Ipsos will monitor the effects of the global pandemic on people's attitudes and living conditions.

Trump pulls tighter with Biden in nationwide polling

Photos: (L) Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images; Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump gained ground on Joe Biden in the WashPost/ABC News poll this month, going from 7 points down in February to a statistical tie — Biden 49% to Trump 47% among registered voters.

Why it matters: Preferences among all adults has Biden standing at 50% and Trump at 44%, though the poll also tests national sentiment and not state-by-state competitions for an Electoral College majority.

How the coronavirus is changing Joe Biden's campaign playbook

Vice President Joe Biden holds a virtual campaign event in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

He built a TV studio at home, starts each day with three hours of medical and economic impact briefings, and checks in with congressional leaders. And, we're not talking about President Trump.

State of play: Joe Biden is overhauling his campaign — and standing up a shadow presidency of sorts — amid a national emergency that's eclipsed all other news.