Approval ratings: How every governor is handling COVID-19

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June 12, 2020
RONEN ZILBERMAN/AFP // Getty Images

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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RONEN ZILBERMAN/AFP // Getty Images

#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.

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Gage Skidmore // Flickr

#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.

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The White House/Shealah Craighead // Flickr

#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.

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The White House/Shealah Craighead // Wikimedia Commons

#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).]

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Austin McDaniel // Flickr

#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.]

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Alex Wong // Getty Images

#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.

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Gage Skidmore // Flickr

#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.

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Rory Doyle for The Washington Post // Getty Images

#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.

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Kevin C. Cox // Getty Images

#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.

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Scott Olson // Getty Images

#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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Tech. Sgt. Chris Baldwin/US Air National Guard // Flickr

#40. Kay Ivey (Alabama)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 59%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 55%
- Difference between approval ratings: +4
- Political party of governor: Republican

After Alabama’s stay-at-home order ended in late April, Gov. Kay Ivey released a “Safer At Home” measure that took effect on April 30. She continued loosening coronavirus restrictions mid-May, allowing restaurants, fitness centers, and hair and nail salons to have limited operations.

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Jacob Moscovitch // Getty Images

#39. Mike Parson (Missouri)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 60%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 48%
- Difference between approval ratings: +12
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Mike Parson’s administration expressed concern about possible retaliation from China after Missouri filed a lawsuit against the country for failing to adequately respond to the pandemic in mid-May, according to Jack Suntrup of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They worried China would react with cyberattacks and disrupt its export of personal protective equipment to the state.

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Doug Ducey for Governor // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Doug Ducey (Arizona)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 60%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 45%
- Difference between approval ratings: +15
- Political party of governor: Republican

City and county authorities in Arizona demanded that Gov. Doug Ducey give them some of the $1.9 billion federal coronavirus relief funds he had yet to distribute in mid-May, according to Jonathan J. Cooper of Fox 10 Phoenix. The board of supervisors of Pinal County voted unanimously to sue the state for release of the funds, while other regions have requested the money in phone calls and letters.

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Alex Edelman // Getty Images

#37. Ralph Northam (Virginia)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 60%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 44%
- Difference between approval ratings: +16
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Ralph Northam moved forward with Phase 2 of the reopening plan for most of Virginia on June 5. While it still recommends telecommuting to work and social distancing, along with requiring people to wear masks in indoor public settings, the measure increased the permitted size of social gatherings to 50 people and allowed restaurants, bars, gyms, and other businesses to open at limited occupancy rates.

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MikesGroover // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Mark Gordon (Wyoming)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 61%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 59%
- Difference between approval ratings: +2
- Political party of governor: Republican

In mid-April, Gov. Mark Gordon earned criticism from the Wyoming Medical Society as well as fans of MSNBC TV host Rachel Maddow for his resistance toward implementing a shelter-in-place order, according to Nick Reynolds of the Casper Star Tribune. However, he did sign an order mandating a 14-day quarantine for some visitors to the state.

 

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World Travel & Tourism Council // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Greg Abbott (Texas)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 61%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 44%
- Difference between approval ratings: +17
- Political party of governor: Republican

On June 3, Gov. Greg Abbott allowed restaurants and other businesses in Texas to increase their capacity from 25% to 50% in an effort to restart the local economy. His executive order also contained a plan to continue to increase business capacity to 75% by June 12.

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Gage Skidmore // Flickr

#34. Pete Ricketts (Nebraska)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 62%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 55%
- Difference between approval ratings: +7
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Pete Ricketts initiated a change in mid-May that would stop state health officials from sharing figures about coronavirus infection rates at meatpacking plants. Prior to the move, public health officials had been reporting hundreds of cases of the disease at various plants in Nebraska.

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Natalie Cass // Getty Images

#33. Gary Herbert (Utah)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 62%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 47%
- Difference between approval ratings: +15
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Gary Herbert has been using a color-coding system to clarify coronavirus guidelines for Utahns. He put the state’s COVID-19 health risk at “yellow” through June 12, which allows for “regular social and economic pursuits.”

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Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage // Getty Images

#32. Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 62%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 40%
- Difference between approval ratings: +22
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Pennsylvania has seen a far lower per capita COVID-19 caseload than its neighbors, New York and New Jersey. Former Vice President Joe Biden praised Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the pandemic in his state in late May. The state implemented stay-at-home orders in March.

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Yellowstone National Park // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Steve Bullock (Montana)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 63%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 50%
- Difference between approval ratings: +13
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Steve Bullock has been working to provide funding to Montana businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. He is sending money to meat processors to help increase storage capacity and devoting millions of dollars to small business recovery.

 

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Jeff Hahne // Getty Images

#30. Roy Cooper (North Carolina)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 63%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 47%
- Difference between approval ratings: +16
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Roy Cooper announced a new executive order on June 4 that will provide aid to communities of color in North Carolina that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. That same day, he also suggested that the state may enter a potential “Phase 2.5” that would allow gyms and bars to reopen a little sooner.

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Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Steve Sisolak (Nevada)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 63%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 41%
- Difference between approval ratings: +22
- Political party of governor: Democratic

In an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus as Nevada reopens, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced on June 1 a new plan with various state agencies to provide community-based testing, contact tracing, and lab analysis. The effort will be funded mainly with federal dollars from economic aid packages, grants, and reimbursement programs.

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Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy/University of Michigan // Flickr

#28. Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 63%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 36%
- Difference between approval ratings: +27
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order for Michigan lasted 70 days. She has maintained a cautious approach to reopening despite being sued by Republican lawmakers, but pushed the northern part of the state into Phase 5 (one phase away from a return to normalcy) in early June.

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doe-oakridge // Flickr

#27. Bill Lee (Tennessee)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 64%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 52%
- Difference between approval ratings: +12
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Bill Lee’s coronavirus response, like those of other state governors, forced many Tennessee businesses to close and lay off hundreds of thousands of workers in mid-March. In early June, he announced a $200 million relief program for local businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.

[Pictured: Mike Arms and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R).]

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Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns // Getty Images

#26. Kate Brown (Oregon)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 64%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 34%
- Difference between approval ratings: +30
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Kate Brown announced that 26 of 29 Oregon counties that sought approval to move into the second reopening phase had been given the green light on June 4. The looser restrictions will allow restaurants and bars to stay open later, bowling alleys and theaters to come out of shutdown, and churches to increase their capacities.

 

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Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin // U.S. Air Force

#25. Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 66%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 53%
- Difference between approval ratings: +13
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is one of a handful of governors who never issued an order for residents to stay at home. He did implement some measures to help control the spread of the virus in Arkansas, though, including restricting gatherings to no more than 10 people, closing bars and restaurants, and closing schools for the rest of the academic year.

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Doug Mills-Pool // Getty Images

#24. Jared Polis (Colorado)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 66%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 42%
- Difference between approval ratings: +24
- Political party of governor: Democratic

In response to growing rates of coronavirus infections, Gov. Jared Polis issued a state of emergency in Colorado in mid-March. He has since issued a “Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors” order that encouraged residents to continue spending most of their time at home or in nature away from others.

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Stephen Yang // Getty Images

#23. Doug Burgum (North Dakota)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 67%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 53%
- Difference between approval ratings: +14
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Doug Burgum moved North Dakota into the “green,” or low-risk, zone on May 29 and continued relaxing voluntary guidelines provided to high-contact businesses. The looser guidelines suggest that restaurants restrict capacity to 75% and weddings and banquets cap attendance to 500 people.

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Jennifer Schneider //U.S. Air Force

#22. Michelle Lujan Grisham (New Mexico)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 67%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 41%
- Difference between approval ratings: +26
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham instituted a shutdown of schools, social distancing measures, and ramped-up testing early on in the coronavirus crisis. She used the experience she gained as the state health secretary to inform her strategies during the public health emergency.

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Bonnie Biess // Getty Images

#21. Ned Lamont (Connecticut)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 67%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 36%
- Difference between approval ratings: +31
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Ned Lamont shut down Connecticut schools, urged people to avoid crowds, and closed nonessential businesses like restaurants and gyms in mid-March. He has since started reopening the state and says restaurants may be allowed to offer indoor dining on June 20.

 

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Master Sgt. Becky Vanshu // Air National Guard

#20. Brad Little (Idaho)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 68%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 55%
- Difference between approval ratings: +13
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Brad Little’s coronavirus response, which included a stay-at-home order, has caused a major rift between him and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, according to Chris Cillizza of CNN. While Little shared a four-stage reopening plan for Idaho on April 30, McGeachin has criticized the governor for being too heavy-handed with his restrictions.

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Spencer Platt // Getty Images

#19. Phil Murphy (New Jersey)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 68%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 40%
- Difference between approval ratings: +28
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Phil Murphy closed gyms, theaters, and casinos in New Jersey in mid-March after previously issuing social distancing and anti-crowding recommendations. He later announced that some businesses, like restaurants and bars, could resume outdoor service on June 15.

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Paras Griffin // Getty Images

#18. John Bel Edwards (Louisiana)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 69%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 50%
- Difference between approval ratings: +19
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Following in the footsteps of New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell, who shut down the city on March 16, Gov. John Bel Edwards decided to issue a statewide stay-at-home order for all of Louisiana on March 22. The move likely played a role in helping to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases in the state, according to Jeff Asher of Nola.com.

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Mark Reinstein/Corbis // Getty Images

#17. Laura Kelly (Kansas)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 69%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 48%
- Difference between approval ratings: +21
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Laura Kelly closed Kansas schools and issued a stay-at-home order in late March in response to COVID-19. She also took action to protect herself and her team, by asking most staff to work from home and checking her own temperature every day, according to Jonathan Shorman of The Wichita Eagle.

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Joshua Lott // Getty Images

#16. J. B. Pritzker (Illinois)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 69%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 39%
- Difference between approval ratings: +30
- Political party of governor: Democratic

In mid-March, Gov. J. B. Pritzker closed schools and universities, shut down sit-in dining at restaurants, banned large gatherings, and put a hold on eviction enforcements. He has criticized the federal government for forcing states into a position of “going it alone.”

 

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David Tucker // U.S. Air Force

#15. John Carney (Delaware)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 71%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 40%
- Difference between approval ratings: +31
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. John Carney put Delaware into a state of emergency on March 12, recommending that unnecessary gatherings of large groups of people be postponed. He also closed public schools in the state through the end of the month, before eventually cancelling in-school instruction for the remainder of the 2019–2020 academic year.

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Erika Schultz-Poo l/ /Getty Images

#14. Jay Inslee (Washington)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 71%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 34%
- Difference between approval ratings: +37
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Washington had the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the nation in January. Gov. Jay Inslee responded by declaring a state of emergency in late February. He then issued mandatory coronavirus screenings at nursing homes, closed public schools, banned gatherings of 250 or more people in some regions, and closed sit-down restaurants across the state throughout mid-May.

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Gage Skidmore // Flickr

#13. Gavin Newsom (California)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 71%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 34%
- Difference between approval ratings: +37
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a stay-at-home order in California on March 19, making it the first state in the country to do so. He started relaxing restrictions in May when he allowed restaurants and stores in certain counties to reopen, and religious centers to resume normal services with county approval.

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JIM WATSON/AFP // Getty Images

#12. Eric Holcomb (Indiana)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 72%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 52%
- Difference between approval ratings: +20
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Eric Holcomb declared a state of emergency in Indiana on March 6 and became one of just three Republican governors to issue stay-at-home orders by March 23. The stay-at-home mandate expired on May 4, and since then, Holcomb has been easing restrictions on nonessential businesses.

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Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald // Getty Images

#11. Janet Mills (Maine)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 72%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 45%
- Difference between approval ratings: +27
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Janet Mills assembled a coronavirus response team for Maine on March 2. Later that month, she declared a civil state of emergency which closed public schools, cancelled non-urgent medical procedures, restricted visitation to long-term care facilities, and banned gatherings of 50 or more people.

 

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Scott Olson // Getty Images

#10. Tim Walz (Minnesota)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 72%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 42%
- Difference between approval ratings: +30
- Political party of governor: Democratic–Farmer–Labor

Gov. Tim Walz told Minnesotans they must stay home for a minimum of two weeks on March 25—one of his first responses to the coronavirus outbreak. Just over a week later, he extended the stay-at-home order and closed bars, restaurants, and other nonessential businesses until May 1.

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David Dee Delgado // Getty Images

#9. Andrew Cuomo (New York)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 74%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 40%
- Difference between approval ratings: +34
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Andrew Cuomo stole the national spotlight with his daily press conferences updating people on New York’s response to the coronavirus in late March, according to Alisa Wiersema, Kendall Karson, and Josh Margolin of ABC News. He took swift action in early March, signing a $40 million emergency management plan to bring staff and equipment into the state, and soon closed schools, churches, and nonessential businesses.

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call // Getty Images

#8. Chris Sununu (New Hampshire)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 75%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 39%
- Difference between approval ratings: +36
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Chris Sununu recently extended the deadline of New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order to June 15. In mid-May, he started relaxing restrictions on businesses, allowing retail stores and salons to reopen and restaurants to offer indoor seating.

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Sgt. Avery Cunningham // U.S. Army National Guard

#7. Phil Scott (Vermont)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 75%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 32%
- Difference between approval ratings: +43
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Phil Scott has repeatedly extended Vermont’s state of emergency, first issued March 13, to June 15. He has also cancelled in-classroom instruction at public schools for the remainder of the 2019–20 academic year, declared a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” mandate, ordered mandatory telecommuting for all businesses and nonprofits, and restricted social gatherings.

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Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe // Getty Images

#6. Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 76%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 37%
- Difference between approval ratings: +39
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Gov. Gina Raimondo cancelled school, banned gatherings of more than 24 people, closed libraries and restaurants, and shuttered certain public transit authority facilities as part of her response to the coronavirus in March. Rhode Island’s stay-at-home order ended on May 8, and Raimondo has since permitted stores to reopen with reduced capacity.

 

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Scott Halleran // Getty Images

#5. Jim Justice (West Virginia)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 78%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 57%
- Difference between approval ratings: +21
- Political party of governor: Republican

Three days after closing public schools as a precautionary measure, Gov. Jim Justice issued a state of emergency for West Virginia on March 16. He’d go on to close bars and casinos, as well as ban in-person dining at restaurants, later that month.

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Scott Eisen // Getty Images

#4. Larry Hogan (Maryland)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 80%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 38%
- Difference between approval ratings: +42
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Larry Hogan began taking action against the coronavirus in mid-march when he ordered Maryland’s casinos and racetracks to cease operations and closed bars, restaurants, fitness centers, and movie theaters. He started easing restrictions two months later, allowing stores, salons, and churches to reopen if they allowed for social distancing, but Baltimore decided to maintain closures until the end of May.

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Marla Aufmuth // Getty Images

#3. Charlie Baker (Massachusetts)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 80%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 38%
- Difference between approval ratings: +42
- Political party of governor: Republican

After an early outbreak of COVID-19 in Boston, Gov. Charlie Baker banned public gatherings of 26 people or more, closed schools and nonessential childcare services, and announced a stay-at-home directive in March. In mid-May, he unveiled a four-phased reopening plan for Massachusetts that would allow all businesses to reopen with some restrictions beginning on May 25.

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John Sommers II // Getty Images

#2. Andy Beshear (Kentucky)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 81%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 51%
- Difference between approval ratings: +30
- Political party of governor: Democratic

Kentucky bars, restaurants, schools, and childcare facilities closed in mid-March as part of Gov. Andy Beshear’s plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He also made amendments to Kentucky’s unemployment insurance requirements to get benefits in the hands of recently-laid-off workers sooner.

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Justin Merriman // Getty Images

#1. Mike DeWine (Ohio)

- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 83%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 51%
- Difference between approval ratings: +32
- Political party of governor: Republican

Gov. Mike DeWine was the country’s first governor to close his state’s public schools in response to the coronavirus. His response has received praise from the press, who have called him “among the leading governors in the country sounding the alarm about the threat of the coronavirus” and praised his response as a “national guide to the crisis.”

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