Very little polling is available to show how voters across these Sun Belt states are reacting to the surge in new cases or the determination of the GOP governors to plow forward despite them. Mike Noble, who polls for nonpartisan clients in Arizona, told me that in his surveys this year, most residents have consistently worried more about reopening too quickly than too slowly—though with a sharp partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans. He told me that he expects his next survey in early July to show heightened anxiety and diminished confidence in Ducey’s handling of the outbreak.
“I assume voters will be souring,” Noble said. “We thought originally that here in the desert, we’re not going to be affected.”
The core political question in the large Sun Belt metro areas may be whether residents are grateful that their governors have given them more freedom to resume daily activities or resentful that they have put them at greater risk by reopening so widely. Ayres said the answer is likely some of both. “I really think there’s a limit to how long you can enforce a rigid lockdown in a country where freedom and liberty are core values,” he told me. “That said, it is now impossible to dismiss this pandemic as a hoax or just the flu or any of the other dismissive appellations that have been applied to it.”