This analysis is based on the results from our poll of 542 randomly sampled California voters fielded March 26 and 27, 2020. The margin of sampling error is +/-4.2% at the 95% confidence level. This survey was conducted online with voters who have a cell phone number or email address on the voter file. Invitations were sent via email and text message.
Expecting Lockdown to Last Less Than 2 Months, Cautious Thumbs-up for Newsom’s COVID- 19 Approach; Lack of Confidence in Trump’s Approach
While most California voters – led by Democrats — lack confidence in the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, the electorate generally has confidence in the Governor’s early lockdown, expecting it to last of 61 days, on average.
Most CA Voters Lack Confidence in the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 Approach
Most California voters reject the notion that the Trump Administration’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak is working. Indeed, 55% lack confidence in the executive’s actions with 38% of that sentiment intense. On the other hand, 43% are at least somewhat assured by the Administration’s approach, though just 27% are very or extremely confident.
Partisanship rules the day when it comes to evaluating Trump’s reaction to the pandemic. Democrats comprise nearly half of California’s electorate, and most are stridently skeptical of the administration’s attempts to curb the coronavirus. Most nonpartisans also lack confidence in the effectiveness of the administration’s response, though with less ferocity than their Democratic counterparts. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are the president’s friendliest segment, as more than half are extremely or very confident in Trump’s efforts to combat the virus. However, Republicans’ assuredness lags far behind Democrats’ intense lack of confidence in the administration’s response. Minor party voters are mostly in Trump’s corner, though not firmly.
The typically liberal Bay Area does not buy the Trump administration’s response, as nearly 70% there don’t believe his efforts are working, with 42% not at all confident. Southern California/Inland Empire voters aren’t far behind, with 55% seriously questioning the president’s response and 42% of them not confident at all. The Central Coast is another area where voters lack confidence in the Trump approach. On the other hand, the typically conservative Central Valley is by far the friendliest geographic region for Trump on this issue. Half there are extremely or very confident that what the president is doing is working. Northern California voters are a relatively positive group.
Voters Believe Governor Newsom’s “Shelter in Place” Orders Will Last an Average of 61 Days
We asked respondents for their best guess as to when Governor Newsom’s March 19 statewide “shelter in place” directive would be lifted. Only 12% believe the directive will be lifted less than a month after it was issued, while nearly half think the “shelter in place” orders will last one to two months. Slightly more than one-in-five believe it will be two to three months and 16% believe it will take more than three months before the stay home orders are rescinded. On average, voters believe the directive will last 61 days, which would mean a May 11 end date. Whether or not that date materializes, what is clear is that a very wide majority anticipate living under the unprecedented stay-at-home status for a relatively lengthy period of time as California attempts to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Voters who are extremely or very concerned the coronavirus will spread to their community, and those who already have it in their community, are more likely to believe the duration of the “shelter in place” directive will be longer, with an average length of 64 days. Those who are only somewhat concerned or unsure whether the coronavirus will come to their community believe the directive will last an average of 54 days, and the average for those who are unconcerned believe the directive is only 49 days. Severity of the concern leads to the belief that bringing the virus under control will require a longer disruption to society. If COVID-19 gets much worse, look for support for a longer lockdown to increase.
More than Three-Quarters say Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 Approach is Working
Gavin Newsom was the country’s first governor to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” directive. While only 13% of voters are extremely confident that Governor Newsom’s actions are working since then, another 30% are very confident and 36% are somewhat confident. Although we judge the electorate to be cautiously optimistic at this point, Newsom is doing much better than the president among California voters. Only 18% lack confidence that Newsom’s actions are working. Newsom’s proactive approach at the pandemic’s outset led to confidence from his constituents.
Newsom gets rewarded by Democrats, as almost all are confident his COVID-19 approach is working. Nonpartisans are at least somewhat assured; 43% are at least very confident and 35% are somewhat confident about governor’s efforts. In this time of crisis, most Republicans are setting aside partisan differences when it comes to Newsom’s approach to COVID-19 and containing the virus. Twenty-six percent are very or extremely confident that what he is doing is working, and another 37% are in that cautiously optimistic “somewhat confident” mindset. The small number of minor party voters are the least confident group of all.
We also find that half of very reliable voters are extremely or very confident in Newsom’s approach and only 13% lack confidence in his actions to combat the virus. Assuredness declines among somewhat reliable and unreliable voters, as 37% and 36%, respectively, are at least very confident while slightly more than one-in-five of both segments lack confidence.
One-in-ten voters are extremely or very confident in both the president and governor. These folks are more likely to be senior Republicans and are therefore disregarding partisanship as they look to both their state and national executives for leadership on COVID-19. Further, senior nonpartisans also tend to be more trusting of both.
At the same time, a small 5% of the electorate lacks confidence in both Trump and Newsom. These folks are relatively young, as 31% are younger than 35 and half are between 35 and 54 years of age. These more skeptical voters are also more likely to be Latino, tend to live in San Diego County, and are less reliable when it comes to casting a ballot.