I wonder if the White House or Team Trump got a whiff of this a few days ago in their own internal polling. After Donald Trump sent out his “LIBERATE” tweets about Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia, the tone changed nearly overnight in regard to pushing the protests over shelter-in-place orders. By this week, Trump had changed directions enough to scold Republican governor Brian Kemp for being too aggressive in rolling back those directives in Georgia — although that also might have something to do with his ongoing feud over the appointment of Kelly Loeffler to fill out Johnny Isakson’s Senate term, too.
Even at that time, polling showed Americans had much more concern about reopening too quickly than not quickly enough. That’s still true in today’s CBS/YouGov poll, but it’s worse than that for Trump. Nearly two-thirds oppose the protests that Trump was encouraging — and only 7% approve of his support for them.
Yikes. Note that only slightly more than a third chose for Trump just to stay quiet about the protests, while a majority of 55% think Trump should be actively discouraging the protests. It’s fairly obvious that even Trump’s base isn’t going along with Trump’s “liberation theology,” so to speak, and the crosstabs bear this out as well. Only three demos in the whole survey score double digits in support of that campaign — Republicans and self-identified conservatives at only 13%, and surprisingly 10% of black voters. Every single demo except Republicans and conservatives has a majority saying Trump should have been actively discouraging the protests.
Aaron Blake writes that Trump’s tweets showed a serious misjudgment of the situation:
A new CBS News/YouGov poll shows just 23 percent of people support the protesters, while 62 percent oppose them. Support is higher among Republicans (43 percent), but even there nearly half of the president’s own party (46 percent) opposes the protesters that Trump egged on, despite them flouting health officials’ guidance by gathering in public.
Perhaps more tellingly, even many people who support the protesters apparently think what Trump did was out of line. A remarkably low 7 percent of all Americans think Trump should be encouraging the protesters, while 55 percent said he should discourage them and 38 percent said he should do nothing. …
An Associated Press/NORC poll released Wednesday offers yet more evidence that Trump picked the wrong alliance. It didn’t ask specifically about the protests, but it did ask whether people think anti-coronavirus measures have “gone too far” in their areas. Just 12 percent of all adults agreed with that statement, while twice as many (26 percent) said they don’t go far enough and 61 percent said they were “about right.”
Again, even Republicans aren’t onboard. Among them, just 22 percent say the measures go too far — about as many as say they don’t go far enough (19 percent).
That’s probably true in regard to the protests, but Trump scores much better on other questions in the CBS/YouGov poll. For instance, a majority of 52% believe that Trump’s handling of the outbreak has not favored states on the basis of partisan tilt but “without regard to political party.” That also gets majority readings in most demos (both men and women at 52%, interestingly), but 70% of Democrats think Trump has tilted in favor of red states while only 19% give him credit for being non-partisan. Among independents, though, Trump scores 58%.
Trump also gets decent approval ratings for his overall handling of the crisis. It’s underwater in the topline at 48/52, but that’s largely driven by a 14/86 among Democrats. Independents rate Trump’s handling at 52/48. Congress does worse at 41/59, with 61% demanding that they return to their jobs right now. That, by the way, is the broad consensus, with majorities in every single demo.
Finally, there’s another trend in these numbers that might have convinced Trump not to push the “LIBERATION” theme too hard. Respondents are still much more worried about rushing the reopening than going too slow (63/37), and the only majority for activity would be to visit friends (54%) once the orders are lifted. Only 29% would risk going to restaurants or bars, only 15% would get on an airplane, and just 13% would consider going to a large-venue sports or entertainment event. That’s not a population champing at the bit for liberation; it’s a constituency needing their confidence rebuilt before engaging in economic activity.