Floridians give higher marks to local leaders than feds in COVID-19 response

UNF poll find 79% of people concerned they’ll contract coronavirus disease

Mayor Lenny Curry, Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A poll of Florida voters by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida released Monday finds more approval of local politicians for their response to coronavirus than Gov. Ron DeSantis and give the lowest marks to President Donald Trump.

Of Jacksonville residents, 70% of approve of the job Mayor Lenny Curry is doing to address the pandemic while only 24% disapprove. A majority of Jacksonville respondents also approved of the measures taken by local government, with 56% agreeing that they are appropriate, 38% that they haven’t gone far enough and 6% that they have gone too far.

The state response to slow COVID-19 didn’t fare as well, with 57% of Florida respondents saying it didn’t go far enough, 34% that it was appropriate and 8% that it went too far.

Of the national response, 55% said the federal government had not gone far enough, 37% said it was appropriate and 7% said it went too far.

DeSantis’ response to coronavirus received 51% approval, with 46% disapproving. The poll shows 45% approve of the job Trump is doing to address the pandemic, with 53% disapproving.

Have the measures taken by governments to slow the spread of coronavirus been appropriate, gone too far or not far enough?

Of all the figures and organizations listed in the survey, Dr. Anthony Fauci received the highest approval ratings at 85% approval and a mere 6% disapproval among registered voters in Florida. Vice President Mike Pence garnered 48% approval, with 44% disapproving.

Lake Curry, other mayors received higher support than state and national readers. Jane Castor, mayor of Tampa, had a large 78% approval rate among Tampa voters, with only 8% disapproving. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez had 68% approval and 15% disapproval among Miami voters, similar to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer with 61% approval and 19% disapproval among voters in Orlando.

“Relative to Trump and DeSantis’ support, mayors and local government have filled the leadership void and been rewarded with high levels of support,” said Dr. Michael Binder, director of UNF PORL. “Even though this job approval was asked specifically about the COVID-19 response, a mayor like Curry who has had a really tough year, has at least turned public opinion on this issue.”

Respondents were also asked about how much they trust various officials and organizations to provide reliable information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Dr. Fauci is once again at the top, with 86% of respondents claiming to trust him a great deal or a fair amount and 8% not trusting him much or at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are doing similarly well, with 86% trusting and 12% not trusting their information about COVID-19.

Trust in Trump is notably lagging, with 41% trusting and 58% not trusting his information about the virus. DeSantis is seeing opposite levels of trust compared to Trump, with 55% trusting and 41% not trusting.

A large majority of respondents, 93%, are very or somewhat concerned in general about the coronavirus pandemic, and 83% are very or somewhat likely to get vaccinated if one becomes available. More than three-quarters of those polled are very or somewhat concerned about personally contracting the virus.

The poll found that 17% of respondents statewide know someone personally who tested positive for COVID-19. Among Jacksonville respondents, 21% know someone personally diagnosed with the disease.

In response to the pandemic, 27% of respondents say someone in their household has had their hours cut at work, and 23% have someone in their household who has been laid off from work. Additionally, almost half of respondents, 42%, say someone in their household is working from home.

Most respondents, 94%, are very or somewhat concerned about the longterm impact of the virus on the economy. Yet fewer are concerned about the impact on their personal finances, with 84% very or somewhat concerned. When asked which was more concerning, 67% of respondents chose public health effects of COVID-19 over the economic impacts.

“Given the massive disruption of our daily lives and serious nature of the pandemic, it is no wonder to see high levels of concern about COVID-19,” Binder stated. “Current projections about death totals and forthcoming economic problems have been nothing short of terrifying.”

Respondents were also asked what items they had the most trouble obtaining the last couple weeks. Paper products, such as toilet paper, and cleaning products topped the list as the most unobtainable items at 34% and 37%, respectively. In addition, 72% of respondents indicated feeling very or somewhat anxious over the past week, with 51% stating they have been anxious more often than usual.

Over the past week, 77% have gone outside to relax or unwind at least a couple of days a week, with 33% saying that is more often than usual and 26% indicating that is less often. Similarly, 55% have exercised outdoors at least a couple days a week over the past week.

The statewide poll of 3,244 registered Florida voters was administered from March 31 through April 4 through an online survey. Of those, 489 were from the Duval area. The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/-1.7 percentage points.

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