President Donald Trump has positioned himself, with regular briefings, as rhe daily spokesman for the nation’s coronavirus response. Yet few Americans regularly look to the president as their source of information on the pandemic, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Just 28% of Americans say they’re regularly getting information from Trump about the coronavirus and only 23% say they have high levels of trust in the information arising from the White House. Another 21% trust him a moderate amount.
Confidence in Trump is higher among his supporters, though only about half of Republicans say they have a lot of trust in Trump’s information on the pandemic — and just 22% say they have little or no trust in what he says about the COVID-19 outbreak.
But among Republicans, the overwhelming majority — 82% — say they still approve of how he's doing. That’s helped keep the president’s overall approval rating steady at 42%, about where it’s been for the past few months.
Lynn Sanchez of Jacksonville, Texas, is among those who backs Trump despite reservations about the validity of the virus information. Sanchez, who identifies as a political independent, said she trusts “only a little” of what the president says about the crisis, but believes he’s “doing the best he can.”
“He’s contradicted his own health experts a couple of times. I believe he gets carried away and doesn’t sit down and think things through,” said Sanchez, a 66-year-old retired truck stop manager.
The survey’s findings underscore Trump’s rock-solid backing from Republicans, who have been unwavering in their overall support throughout his presidency, despite reservations about his credibility and temperament.
The findings also raise questions about the value of Trump’s daily briefings from the White House during the pandemic — televised events that often paint a sunny picture of the nation’s pandemic response that runs counter to the experiences of many Americans in cities and states hard-hit by the fast-moving virus. While the briefings are the White House’s main vehicle for getting information to the public, they have been known to devolve into clashes with the media and critics of the administration.
Trump has personally led the briefings for weeks, with a regular cast of public health officials, Cabinet secretaries and Vice President Mike Pence also taking turns updating Americans on the administration’s response to the health and economic crisis.
There is no indication that Trump is ready to step away from the daily briefings. He regularly touts their television ratings, one of his favorite metrics for success. And indeed, the briefings continue to be aired at length on major cable news channels each evening.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,057 adults was conducted April 16-20 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.
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