KSTP/SURVEYUSA: Walz, Biden at 54% approval on handling coronavirus pandemic

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Minnesotans appear to be very consistent in how they view state and national leaders in handling the coronavirus pandemic. Both Governor Tim Walz and President Joe Biden get 54% approval from 600 Minnesotans surveyed March 4 to March 7. Among poll respondents, 36% disapprove of the Walz response and ten percent say they’re not sure.

"A lot of people are evaluating the governor’s job performance in terms of what he’s visible in doing and he’s been very visible in trying to manage the coronavirus in the state," says Steven Schier, a Carleton College political analyst.

The governor’s approval rating is down from a high of 82% last May, shortly after the pandemic was declared.

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"In the early days of a crisis there’s often a rally effect around political leaders as people look for strong action in response to the problem," Schier told 5 Eyewitness News. "And the problem has been persistent and people have begun to really divide in their opinions about how the governor is handling the problem. So he’s not in the stratospheric level of support as he was early in the stages of the virus."

Schier says it’s still impressive for any politician to be over 50% approval in such polarizing times. He says President Biden’s 54% approval and 31% disapproval shows political strength.

"He’s doing well with independents and moderates beyond his own partisan base and that’s a sign of some political strength," Schier said.

KSTP’s survey also asked Minnesotans if they plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19. So far, 23 percent of respondents said they have been vaccinated While 77 percent have not been. 56 percent said they plan to get the vaccine or already have. However, 28 percent said they do not plan to get vaccinated and 16 percent are not sure. Digging deeper in those numbers, among those who say they won’t get vaccinated, 50 percent are Republicans, 12 percent are Democrats and 21 percent independents.

Forty-nine percent of people who say they voted for former President Donald Trump are among those who say they won’t get the vaccine. Trump is widely credited with pushing for the "Operation Warp Speed" program that brought vaccines on the market in record time.

Trump’s approval rating on the coronavirus in our KSTP/SurveyUSA poll ranged from 34 percent last May to 42 percent in October.