Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker got strong marks from Illinois residents for his stay-at-home-centered handling of the coronavirus outbreak while nearly half disapproved of President Donald Trump’s efforts to address the crisis, according to a new nationwide survey.
The poll, conducted by Harvard, Rutgers and Northeastern universities from April 17-26, also showed Illinois residents are split on whether the federal government has taken the pandemic seriously, and two-thirds think the state is at least a month away from reopening its business economy.
The COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States surveyed nearly 23,000 people nationally online, including 596 in Illinois, and said its findings among the state’s residents had an error margin of 4 percentage points.
The survey weighted its state findings based on the demographics of age, race and gender. Of the Illinois participants, 41% identified as Democrats, 30% as Republicans and 24% as independents.
Of the Illinoisans in the survey, 69% said they approved of Pritzker’s handling of the outbreak, while 14% disapproved. Another 16% had no opinion. In contrast, 39% of Illinois residents approved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, while 45% disapproved. Another 17% had no opinion.
The survey’s authors said that in every state of the union, residents approved of their own governor’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis at a higher level than they rated that of Trump.
Asked if they trusted Trump to do the right thing to handle the outbreak, 53% of Illinois residents said not too much or not at all, while 47% had at least some trust in the president. Trump’s trust factor was lower than what state residents gave to Congress, 55%; state government, 77%; and likely Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden, with 59%.
His latest order continuing to urge residents to stay at home and requiring face coverings in settings where social distancing cannot be maintained took effect Friday. The survey showed it shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment for most Illinoisans — nearly 6 in 10 people said they had very closely followed the mask recommendation during the last week, while another 2 in 10 said they’d followed it somewhat closely.
The poll also asked Illinois participants how they felt their state and federal governments were reacting to the pandemic.
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Three-quarters of Illinoisans said state government was reacting about right, 15% said it was overreacting and 10% said it was not taking the crisis seriously enough. In contrast, 45% of state residents thought the federal government wasn’t taking it seriously enough. Another 48% said they thought Washington was acting about right, and 8% said it was overreacting.
As for Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders, 93% approved of them, including 75% who said they strongly approved. Another 85% approved of requirements that most businesses close.
But few Illinoisans had expectations that the state’s business economy would reopen soon. Only 8% said it should begin immediately, and 9% said within the next two weeks. Another 18% said it should begin in two to four weeks, 20% said in four to six weeks and 19% said in six to eight weeks. The largest group, at 27%, said it should reopen after more than eight weeks.
Overall, 88% of state residents said they felt well-informed about the steps needed to be taken to protect themselves while only 2% said they were not. Another 10% said they had no opinion about their preparedness.