This summer's surge in coronavirus infections has been felt all over the Sun Belt, from Florida to Texas to Arizona. David Nather, in Axios, reports that Republican governors in four Sun Belt states are now suffering from low approval of their handling of the crisis — whereas in California, another state that is being hit hard by the surge, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is still popular.
Citing polling data that Axios received from Survey Monkey, Nather notes that residents of Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas were asked whether or not they approved of the way in which their governors have handled the coronavirus crisis — and the Republican governors of those four states all fared badly, including Florida's Ron DeSantis, Texas' Greg Abbott, Arizona's Doug Ducey and Georgia's Brian Kemp. Disapproval ranged from 62% for Ducey and 58% for DeSantis to 55% for Kemp and Abbott.
"In all four states," Nather explains, "there were sharp increases between May and July in how many people knew someone with the coronavirus. In Florida, for example, just 33% knew someone with the virus in (a) May 11-17 survey. By the July 13-19 (survey), that share had jumped to 55%. In Texas, the numbers for those weeks jumped from 32% to 62%."
In contrast, Nather notes, Newsom "still has 60% support for his handling of the virus even though cases have exploded" in California. Jon Cohen, chief research officer for Survey Monkey, told Axios that Newsom fares especially well among Democratic voters. That 60% approval takes into account California voters in general — Democrats, Republicans or otherwise — but among Democrats or those who lean Democrat, Newsom enjoys 82% approval over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
One Republican governor who, according to Survey Monkey data given to Axios, enjoys more approval than disapproval over his handling of coronavirus is Ohio's Mike DeWine. Although some far-right extremists have attacked the conservative governor over social distancing restrictions in the Buckeye State, Survey Money found that 68% of Ohio residents approve of the way DeWine has handled the crisis.
DeWine, it should be noted, is among the GOP governors who has received a lot of favorable coverage in the mainstream media over his response to COVID-19. While many pundits at MSNBC and CNN have been quite critical of DeSantis and Kemp, they have applauded DeWine, Maryland's Larry Hogan and Massachusetts' Charlie Baker as three examples of Republican governors who aggressively encouraged social distancing in their states.
"The political damage from the coronavirus won't just be a factor in the presidential election," Nather writes. "It's going to affect the political standing — and the legacies — of the governors in the hardest-hit states, too."