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F&M Poll: Dems, independents back state's COVID-19 rules

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

Concerns about the coronavirus in Pennsylvania fall largely along political and ideological lines, according to the latest Franklin and Marshall College Poll.

The F&M poll surveyed 667 registered voters, including 324 Democrats, 271 Republicans and 72 independents.

Participants were asked to identify themselves as liberal, moderate, conservative or "don't know."

Pollsters found that 78% of conservatives and 63% of moderates believe they are unlikely to catch the virus, compared with only 45% of liberals with the same belief.

"That doesn't surprise me," said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College and founder of the F&M poll.

"Remember, Republicans have been urging a quicker open to the economy, as a whole," he said.

Opinions on wearing masks and limiting activities outside the home also were split ideologically, with 88% of liberal respondents and 84% of moderate respondents saying they believe it's "extremely important" to wear a face mask when they leave the house, compared with only 42% of conservatives.

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Not surprisingly, Gov. Tom Wolf's approval ratings among registered voters have also fallen along ideological lines.

Ninety percent of liberals and 65% of moderates gave the Democratic governor a positive rating on his job performance, compared with just 13% of conservatives.

Overall, Wolf's approval rating was 55%. 

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during his press conference at PA CareerLink in York Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Wolf was highlighting the importance of job-finding resources in light of the unemployment cause by the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. Bill Kalina photo

Madonna attributed this to Wolf's style of speaking and the way he communicates.

"In terms of his rhetoric, he’s not confrontational," Madonna said, adding that even people who disagree with the governor find it difficult to dislike him.

But in May, even the governor stepped out of his usual character amid the coronavirus crisis, calling business owners and county officials who refused to enforce his shutdown orders "cowards" and threatening to revoke their licenses and state funding.

Other governors: Governors from both parties who instituted broad lockdowns and restrictions are enjoying strong poll numbers. Meanwhile, those who opted against closures as the virus spread are seeing their approval ratings fall.  

For example, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine was one of the first in the country to ban spectators from sporting events, close public schools and shutter bars and restaurants.

DeWine is enjoying an all-time high approval rating of 75%, up 31 points from his 44% approval rating in July 2019, according to a June Quinnipiac University poll.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,139 self-identified registered voters, including 28% Republicans, 31% Democrats, 32% independents and 9% "other."

In Michigan, a state President Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is also benefiting from a positive approval rating.

The Washington Post reported a recent CNN/SSRS poll in Michigan showing that 69% of respondents believed Whitmer was "doing everything she could do to fight the outbreak," and 51% said they believed "the worst is behind us."

Of the 1,003 respondents to that poll, 29% self-identified as Democrats, 25% self-identified as Republicans and 46% said they were independent or members of a different party.

In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has been reluctant to mandate mask wearing or lock down businesses, still has a positive approval rating of 54%, according to a recent Monmouth University poll. But analysts at Monmouth observed that other governors have much higher ratings for their coronavirus response.

The Monmouth poll noted that 79% of respondents approved of indoor face mask requirements, and another 63% said individual cities and municipalities should be allowed to set their own statutes about mask requirements.

Kemp, who's been a vocal proponent of reopening that state's economy, recently filed a lawsuit against Atlanta officials, challenging the city's local mask mandate. 

The Monmouth poll surveyed 402 registered voters, including 37% Republicans, 32% Democrats and 31% who didn't identify with either party.

And in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' approval rating is at 41%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll that surveyed 924 registered voters, including 28% Republicans, 34% Democrats, 33% independents and 6% unaffiliated with those parties.

DeSantis, too, has been reluctant to impose widespread restrictions on business. 

Florida has recently become a hot spot with a spike in new cases, and according to a  CNN/SSRS poll, 64% of respondents said "the worst is yet to come" and 63% said DeSantis "could be doing more."

The CNN/SSRS poll surveyed 1,005 Florida residents with a breakdown of 30% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 40% unaffiliated or "other."

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