Approval of Trump's Handling of the Coronavirus Has Decreased Steadily Since March, Polling Shows

Americans' approval of President Donald Trump's handling of the new coronavirus outbreak has steadily declined since February, according to polling data.

Overall, the number of Americans saying Trump is doing a "bad job" handling the pandemic has increased by 10 points since March, polling by CBS News has shown. When CBS News first conducted the poll in March, only 47 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump's response to the crisis.

In April, that number increased by 5 points, rising to 52 percent. Now, at the beginning of May, the percentage of Americans saying Trump has done a "bad job" has again risen by 5 points, growing to 57 percent overall.

The number of Americans who trust Trump for information about the outbreak currently stands at 38 percent, while 62 percent of respondents say they do not trust the president about it. However, there remains a stark divide along political lines.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs from the White House on May 14. The number of Americans who trust Trump for information about the outbreak currently stands at 38 percent, while 62 percent of respondents to the CBS poll say they do not. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

The vast majority of Republicans (85 percent) believe they can trust the information coming from Trump. Among Democrats, only 8 percent believe they can trust Trump, while just 36 percent of independents believe the president is a reliable source of pandemic information.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of Trump's coronavirus task force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, remains to be the most trustworthy source of information about the pandemic for 62 percent of Americans. State governors are close behind, with 61 percent of respondents listing their governors as trustworthy.

Previous polling results have shown that a majority of Americans are critical of Trump's response to the pandemic. In mid-April, the Pew Research Center published the findings of a survey, which showed that 65 percent of Americans believed Trump was "too slow" to respond to the crisis.

Supporters of Trump regularly point to his late January decision to bar foreign travelers who had recently visited China from entering the country to defend the president. They argue that this early action gave the U.S. time to prepare for the outbreak.

But critics point out that the steps taken by the federal government in the following months were inadequate to prevent the spread of the virus.The U.S. was slow to roll out testing and contact tracing, which public health experts have noted allowed the virus to spread nationwide more or less undetected for more than a month.

During February, Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, suggesting the Democrats and the media were focusing attention on the virus as a "new hoax." He also suggested that it would simply "disappear." In reality, the U.S. now has the largest outbreak of the virus in the world, with significantly more deaths and confirmed cases than any other country in the world.

Many critics of the president have pointed to South Korea, which identified its first official case of the virus at the same time as the U.S. in January. But now, nearly four months later, South Korea still has less than 11,000 confirmed cases of the virus. Of those, more than 9,700 have recovered and only 260 have died. The country managed to achieve these relatively low numbers through rapid testing and contact tracing to isolate anyone suspected of being infected.

Meanwhile, the U.S. now has some 1.43 million confirmed cases of the virus. Of those, more than 245,000 have already recovered while over 85,000 have died. The U.S. has continued to add between 17,000 and 27,000 new cases per day over the past week.