KSTP/SURVEYUSA: Big difference in Walz, Trump approval ratings on virus response

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It might be a tale of two different approaches to regular briefings on the coronavirus by state and federal leaders.

Whatever the reason, Minnesotans approve of the coronavirus response of Gov. Tim Walz much more than that of President Donald Trump.

In our exclusive KSTP/SurveyUSA poll of 500 Minnesotans, 82 percent either "strongly" or "somewhat" approve of how Walz has responded to the coronavirus, while 14 percent either "somewhat" or "strongly" disapprove and five percent are not sure. The Minnesota Legislature, with Republicans in charge of the Senate and Democrats in charge of the House, also gets high marks. According to the survey conducted between April 30 and May 3, 68 percent approve of the legislature’s response and 16 percent disapprove. Another 16 percent say they’re not sure.

"Really extraordinarily high ratings showing that Minnesotans have been very happy with his response," Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier says of the Walz approval rating. "Now his environment is very different I think than that the president faces. He’s dealing with a smaller field of play, (the state of) Minnesota. The press coverage, while balanced, I think is not as uniformly negative as the national press coverage is of President Trump."

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The drumbeat of negative coverage of Trump might explain, at least in part, his 34 percent coronavirus response approval rating in Minnesota. Another 59 percent disapprove and seven percent are not sure.

"President Trump historically gets 92 percent negative coverage in the press and I’m sure the governor doesn’t have anything like that in the state media," Schier said.

He also pointed out that Trump’s briefings often turn political and combative with the press while Governor Walz has generally kept politics out of his decisions.

Congress might also suffer from getting too political with the coronavirus. Minnesotans give the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and Democratic-controlled House a 40 percent approval rating despite approving trillions in aid to states and federal stimulus payments directly to millions of taxpayers. Another 47 percent disapprove and 14 percent are not sure.

The survey questions only asked about response to the coronavirus and not overall approval ratings of Trump, Congress, Walz and the Legislature.

The survey included 38 percent Democrats, 28 percent Republicans and 26 percent independents.