The initial response to a crisis typically depends on the executive branch of government, because they may act more rapidly than legislative and judicial branches. For COVID-19 in particular, the focal decision-makers have been the president and the governors of the 50 states. In the eyes of the public, how have the president and governors responded? Figure 1 plots the change in approval since April for presidential and gubernatorial responses to COVID-19 for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
We find a broad, nearly nationwide pattern of declining executive support. Figure 1 reveals several patterns1. First, the average governor has experienced a 10-point decline in approval from late April to late June, and in only 5 states—Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, South Dakota and Vermont*—have governors’ approval ratings increased since late April. In the remaining states, approval has declined. Second, the President began (at the outset of our series in late April) with a relatively low approval rating, below that of the governor in all 50 states, and has declined further—by 8 points on average. Only one governor—Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona— now has an approval rating in their state lower than that of the president.