With the spread of the delta variant and Californians naming COVID-19 the top issue facing the state, the pandemic has been a dominant theme in the September 14 recall election of Governor Newsom. COVID-19 continues to be a critical issue at the federal level as well, as schools reopen and the economy inches toward recovery. As the state and nation prepare for the fall and winter months, how do Californians feel about elected officials’ handling of the pandemic?
Over half (53%) of adults and likely voters approve of the job Governor Newsom is doing overall, while slightly more (60% adults, 58% likely voters) approve of the way he is handling the pandemic. The governor’s approval has remained steady since May, both overall and in terms of how he has handled COVID. Today, approval of the governor is highest in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as among Democrats, women, African Americans, and Latinos. Asian Americans are more likely to approve of his handling of the pandemic (70%) than his overall performance (56%).
Approval ratings for President Biden are higher—but they have declined since May. According to our survey, which was fielded before Biden’s announcement last week on new federal vaccine requirements, two in three adults (63% of likely voters) approve of the way that President Biden is handling the coronavirus outbreak, a decrease of 9 percentage points from May and his lowest approval on the issue to date. Majorities across regions, parties, and demographic groups—with the exception of Republicans—approve of the way President Biden is handling the pandemic.
President Biden earns somewhat lower marks overall than he does for COVID. His overall approval rating among Californians is 58%, a decline of 8 points since May and a low point since he took office in January. Fifty-five percent of likely voters approve of the way he is handling his job as president. Half or more across regions and most demographic groups approve. Strikingly, 88% of Republicans disapprove (11% approve), while independents (48% approve, 46% disapprove) and those with some college education (49% approve, 45% disapprove) are divided.
As our state and national leaders grapple with how best to return to “normalcy” amid the emergence of new COVID variants, PPIC will continue to monitor and track Californians’ opinions on elected officials and their handling of the ongoing pandemic.