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.