Most Americans Rate Governors Far Better Than Trump In Pandemic
As the number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus pandemic increases, more than 3 in 5 registered voters (61 percent) said Trump was unprepared to handle the outbreak, while only 32 percent said he was prepared, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday.
The poll showed a much more favorable view of governors, with 47 percent of respondents saying state leaders were prepared and 45 percent saying they were unprepared.
The same poll showed that 62 percent rated governors as doing an excellent or good job, with only 43 percent saying the same of Trump.
In New York, the results of a Siena College poll taken last week and released on Monday also show a stark contrast between opinions of Trump and of the state's governor.
An overwhelming 87 percent of New Yorkers registered to vote approve of how Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is handling the crisis, including 70 percent of Republicans. The high approval comes even as the state has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the entire country, with more than 76,000 as of Wednesday morning.
But only 41 percent of the state's residents approve of Trump's handling of the crisis.
In Maryland, a blue state with a Republican governor, more than 80 percent of residents approve of Gov. Larry Hogan's response to the crisis, according to the results of a poll conducted on the website MarylandReporter.com in the last two weeks of March and released Tuesday.
The positive poll results came even as Trump has been accusing governors of not being prepared.
"Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves," Trump told governors during a March 16 conference call, the New York Times reported. "We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself."
On March 19, Trump downplayed his own responsibility for helping states deal with the crisis.
"Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work," Trump said at a White House briefing. "The Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we're not a shipping clerk."
Cuomo has repeatedly asked for assistance with ventilators and protective equipment for medical workers in New York, but Trump refused to believe the state needed what Cuomo has requested.
"I think their estimates are high," Trump said of Cuomo's request for 30,000 ventilators.
On Monday, Trump accused health care workers of stealing masks, saying the protective gear is "going out the back door."
Trump has also repeatedly lashed out at Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, tweeting on March 17: "Failing Michigan Governor must work harder and be much more proactive. We are pushing her to get the job done. I stand with Michigan!"
On March 26, Whitmer was on the phone with the White House asking for assistance at the same time Trump was calling in to Sean Hannity's show on Fox News and mocking her.
"She's not stepping up," Trump said about Whitmer. "All she does is sit there and blame the federal government. She doesn't get it done. And we send her a lot."
Trump had previously said that governors "have to treat us well" in order for states to get the federal support they are requesting.
While Trump blamed state governors for the growing crisis, his own slow response in January and February included repeatedly downplaying the severity of the pandemic.
On Jan. 24, Trump praised China's response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying the country was working hard to contain the virus and reassuring Americans, "It will all work out well."
On Feb. 2, three days after issuing restrictions on people traveling from China, Trump again downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak.
"We pretty much shut it down coming in from China," Trump said, adding, "So we're gonna see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes."
Later that month, on Feb. 26, Trump predicted that there would soon be no more coronavirus cases in the United States.
"When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero," Trump said. "That's a pretty good job we've done."
On that day there were actually 60 confirmed cases, and the number has since grown to more than 188,000 cases as of Wednesday morning.
Trump did not declare a state of emergency until March 13.
On March 19, Trump defended his response to the crisis, claiming during a White House briefing, "Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion."
However, in 2016, President Obama's National Security Council completed a 69-page playbook with step-by-step tactical and policy options for responding to a health pandemic, Politico reported. Even though the Trump administration was briefed about the playbook in 2017, the administration failed to follow the guidance it contained.
"Donald Trump may not have been expecting this," one senior official told the Washington Post in mid-March, "but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it."