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Approval ratings: How every governor is handling COVID-19

  • Approval ratings: How every governor is handling COVID-19

    While Americans place a lot of importance on their president, it’s often their governors who make a bigger impact on their everyday lives. The coronavirus pandemic has shined a spotlight on the role of these leaders, who have largely been responsible for leading their states’ responses to the public health crisis. With little guidance from the federal government, state governors have decided the rules on the shutdown of nonessential businesses and the timelines for reopening. They’ve been responsible for getting personal protective gear into the hands of medical workers and first responders, as well as expanding coronavirus testing in their states. And they’re the ones people look to, to find out exactly how their state is doing and what they can expect during this time of uncertainty.

    COVID-19 has affected every state, but no two governors have handled it in exactly the same way. Some, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York and Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, have instituted long-term stay-at-home orders and mandatory shutdowns of nonessential businesses. Others, like Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, have resisted placing sweeping restrictions on travel and business operations.

    While governors’ responses to the public health emergency have varied, one thing is true across all 50 states: Constituents are keeping a careful eye on how authorities are addressing COVID-19, and judging them accordingly. To find out which governors are perceived as heroes—and which ones could be doing a better job, according to voters—Stacker compiled a list of governors' approval ratings based on the results of The State Of The Nation: A 50-state COVID-19 Survey, conducted by researchers from Northeastern University, Rutgers University, and Harvard University. The researchers surveyed 22,912 individuals across all 50 states in the study, which was conducted April 17–26, 2020 by PureSpectrum via an online, nonprobability sample, with state-level representative quotas for race/ethnicity, age, and gender.

    Wondering how your governor’s coronavirus response is affecting their approval rating? Read on to find out where your governor stands and how he or she compares with others on the list.

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  • #50. David Ige (Hawaii)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 39%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 32%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +7
    - Political party of governor: Democratic

    Gov. David Ige has received heavy criticism for keeping Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a doctor who has experience in public health and emergency management, out of the team leading Hawaii’s response to the pandemic, according to Chad Blair of Honolulu Civil Beat. Green had previously condemned the state government for what he believes was too slow of a response to the crisis. The two have since started working together again as of late March.

  • #49. Kristi Noem (South Dakota)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 49%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 45%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +4
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Gov. Kristi Noem has taken a relatively hands-off approach during the pandemic. She has not ordered businesses to close and has refused to implement sweeping stay-at-home mandates, despite calls for more action from mayors and doctors.

  • #48. Ron DeSantis (Florida)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 52%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 47%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +5
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Gov. Ron DeSantis earned criticism for not issuing a stay-at-home order or statewide social distancing guidelines for Florida until April 1, according to Dartunorro Clark of NBC News. Despite the coronavirus outbreak, large groups of spring breakers and beachgoers continued to gather in Florida in March.

  • #47. Kevin Stitt (Oklahoma)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 53%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 51%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +2
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Gov. Kevin Stitt began moving Oklahoma into Phase 2 of its reopening plan in mid-May. He encouraged citizens on both sides of the political spectrum to unite as the state moved forward, according to Sarah Fischer of KTEN News.

    [Pictured: Governor-elect Kevin Stitt, R- Oklahoma (L) alongside Governor-elect Brad Little, R- Idaho(R).]

  • #46. Mike Dunleavy (Alaska)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 53%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 50%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +3
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    As Alaska reopens, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has been trying to balance the need to prevent new infections with the desire of the state’s citizens and visitors to have fewer restrictions, according to Andrew Kitchenman of KTOO and Alaska Public Media. In early June, his administration created new mandates for travelers that require them to present negative COVID-19 tests, avoid travel to remote communities, and practice social distancing while in the state.

    [Pictured: Left to right: Alaska Region Regional Forester Dave Schmid, Governor Mike Dunleavy, Rose Dunleavy, and Alaska Region Deputy Regional Forester Jerry Ingersoll.]

  • #45. Henry McMaster (South Carolina)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 54%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 47%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +7
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Gov. Henry McMaster has been resistant to reinstating restrictions despite a continued rise in coronavirus infections in South Carolina in early June, according to Emily Bohatch of The State. He is encouraging people to follow health guidelines to help slow the spread of infections.

  • #44. Kim Reynolds (Iowa)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 54%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 46%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +8
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Gov. Kim Reynolds earned praise from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in early April for following his coronavirus prevention guidance. Among other measures, Reynolds closed schools and many nonessential businesses, and also banned gatherings of 11 or more people.

  • #43. Tate Reeves (Mississippi)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 56%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 48%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +8
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Shortly after Gov. Tate Reeves removed all coronavirus restrictions on businesses, Mississippi had “one of its highest single-day death totals,” according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The state’s “Safe Return” plan will allow schools to offer summer programs and people to gather in groups of up to 50 for indoor activities, as long as they adhere to social distancing recommendations.

  • #42. Brian Kemp (Georgia)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 56%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 47%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +9
    - Political party of governor: Republican

    Gov. Brian Kemp was one of the first governors to take action on President Trump’s call for states to reopen, according to Alexander Nazaryan of Yahoo News. He has offered to host the Republican National Convention in Georgia, while other states have refused to permit large gatherings during the pandemic.

  • #41. Tony Evers (Wisconsin)

    - Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 58%
    - Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 39%
    - Difference between approval ratings: +19
    - Political party of governor: Democratic

    Gov. Tony Evers walked back plans to enforce stay-at-home orders and other coronavirus measures on May 18 after Wisconsin’s top court ruled that the effort exceeded his powers. Instead, his team consulted with local authorities to help counties create their own orders.

     

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