BEREA — Baldwin Wallace University in partnership with Ohio Northern University and Oakland University polled Ohioans about the job Gov. Mike DeWine is doing compared to President Donald Trump in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Great Lakes Poll was conducted online from April 20 to 25 among self-identified registered voters in Ohio.
The poll shows about 85% of Ohioans approve of the way DeWine is handling the crisis, an increase of five points from the March Great Lakes Poll. Only half of Ohioans approve of the way the president is handling the crisis.
“DeWine enjoys a lot of support in the state of Ohio from Democrats and Republicans,” said Dr. Rob Alexander, professor of political science at Ohio Northern University in Ada. “It’s certainly not a partisan approval for DeWine. When you look at President Trump, it is much more based upon partisan lines.”
Eight in 10 Ohioans believe DeWine acted at the appropriate time, but only four in 10 Ohioans believe Trump acted at the right time in reacting to the pandemic.
“DeWine has emerged as one of the most proactive governors in the country, largely because he has treated preventing the spread of COVID-19 as a matter of life and death,” said Dr. Lauren Copeland, assistant professor of political science at Baldwin Wallace University.
There’s also a big difference in how people trust what DeWine says on COVID-19, compared to Trump.
The poll found that 90% of Ohioans trust DeWine to provide accurate information and only a slim majority trust Trump to do the same. Ohioans also look to Ohio’s Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton for accurate information on COVID-19.
“You see that the experts also rate very positively by citizens in Ohio, being Amy Acton and Anthony Fauci,” Alexander said.
“Ohioans view DeWine as a credible source of information. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything and he leans heavily on public health experts, including Dr. Acton. His apolitical, no-nonsense briefings have become Ohioans’ go-to source for facts and reassurance,” Copeland said.
As for when Ohio should reopen, about half of those polled agree with DeWine’s plan to begin reopening Ohio’s economy on May 1. At the same time, a majority don’t think many businesses or places of worship should reopen yet.
The poll also showed Ohioans are fearful of COVID-19. More than 80% of those polled said they are feeling some level of anxiety about the virus.
Ohioans are also concerned about the economy. A whopping 94% remain concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and 68% are concerned about their personal finances, yet respondents believe that public health is more important than the economy.
“Despite concern about severe economic effects of the shutdown, Ohioans are cautious about the health risks of re-opening the economy, which could have an additional negative impact on businesses trying to re-open,” said Dr. Tom Sutton, a political science professor at Baldwin Wallace University.
As for the news media, Ohioans said they obtain COVID-19 news from local and national media, with 84% relying on local news media outlets “often” or “sometimes” with Ohioans much less likely to lean on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter for COVID-19 news.
“Misinformation about the coronavirus is rampant on social media. Even fact-checking sites can’t keep up with fake news,” said Dr. Terri Tower, political science profession at Oakland University.
The Great Lakes Poll also looked at the presidential race. In March, Trump bested Biden 47% to 43%. Biden now leads Trump in Ohio 45% to 44%.
“If Trump has to spend resources in a state like Ohio, that does not bode well for him in other swing states that will also be competitive, like Wisconsin and Arizona and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Ohio is absolutely key to his winning a second term,” Alexander said.
Visit limaohio.com to read poll results in their entirety.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.