New Poll: Washington State Residents Support State, Local Efforts to Contain Virus


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Conversely, they strongly disapprove of Trump and federal government’s response, and Biden leads Trump here by double digits

Washington State voters are overwhelmingly supportive of the stay-at-home order and other restrictions imposed in Washington State in response to the coronavirus pandemic, even as they express severe anxiety about the longer-term economic impacts of the shutdown and express little confidence in President Trump or the federal response, according to new polling data released by EMC Research. 

86 percent of Washington State residents say they are concerned about COVID-19’s impact on the economy, with 50 percent saying they are “extremely concerned.” This compares to 82 percent who say they are concerned about the outbreak itself (40 percent are extremely concerned).

Washington State voters see stark differences between the response of state and local government to the pandemic compared to the federal government’s response. An overwhelming majority (71 percent) of respondents say state government has acted appropriately to stop the spread of COVID-19, with only 11 percent saying the state has taken things too seriously (an additional 16 percent – 25 percent in King County – say the state has not gone far enough). 

Overall, Washingtonians approve of the state response by a more than four-to-one margin (64-15 percent), and they also judge the local response to have been good by a very healthy 59-15 percent margin. By contrast, only 38 percent judge the federal response to be good while 34 percent say it has been bad. Only 39 percent approve of Trump’s overall job performance, while 57 percent view it negatively (only one in five respondents say Trump took the right actions after being warned by intelligence agencies in January about the spread of the virus in China, while nearly half the state’s voters agree with the claim that he ignored or dismissed those reports). 

When it comes to who Washington State residents trust for information about COVID-19, voters say they don’t have much trust either in President Trump or the news media. They do strongly trust Dr. Anthony Fauci (7.69 on a 10-point scale where “10” indicates “complete trust”) and place significant trust in both state and local government (6.72 and 6.60, respectively). The federal government is significantly less trusted (5.33), but all three branches of government are more trusted than the news media (5.20). Trump and Fox News (4.44 and 4.50) are the least trusted sources of COVID-19 information. Moreover, 57 percent of respondents say they have been receiving significant information about COVID-19 via social media, second only to the 69 percent that cite tv news as a primary information source. 

Given Trump’s deficits with Washington voters, in a head-to-head matchup Joe Biden unsurprisingly leads Trump here in blue Washington by double digits, 52 percent to 39 percent. In King County, the margin is 63-25 percent, in the rest of Western Washington Biden leaders by seven points, and even in conservative-leaning Eastern Washington Biden and Trump are currently tied at 46 percent. 

The polling shows a massive gender gap, with Biden leading Trump among women by a 59-33 percent margin, while men are essentially tied, with Biden edging Trump 45-44 percent. Trump’s best demographic is white, non-college educated voters, but even among this cohort Biden leads 47-43 percent, a sharp difference from recent national polls that show Trump with a large lead among non-college educated white voters. Among college-educated whites Biden leads 55-38 percent, and his margins are even higher with non-white residents. 

Despite the public’s strong support for state and local government social distancing measures, residents say they are personally feeling the economic pinch of those measures. 62 percent say COVID-19 has impacted their working arrangements, and 42 percent say they are concerned they will lose their job because of COVID-19. Two-thirds say they have significantly reduced their personal spending because of COVID-19, with a whopping 77 percent saying they either have or plan to reduce spending on monthly bills like rent, mortgage or utilities, while 69 percent are reducing spending on travel and vacations, and nearly half (44 percent) say the same about shopping. 

Nor do they see recovery coming any time soon. About two-thirds of Washington residents believe major changes like school and business closures and stay at home orders to continue for at least another three more months, with 44 percent statewide saying economic recovery will take longer than one year (52 percent in King County). Only 22 percent think the economy will recover in six months or less. 

The poll was conducted during the first week of April via a web panel survey of 583 adults in Washington State.  It has a margin of error of 4.1 points. 

Sandeep Kaushik
Sandeep Kaushik
Sandeep Kaushik is a political and public affairs consultant in Seattle. In a previous life, he was a staff writer and political columnist at the Stranger, and did a stint as a Washington State correspondent for Time Magazine and for the Boston Globe, back in the olden days when such positions still existed.


  1. These results should further discourage Republicans who want to run in Washington state this year, given the albatross that Trump, the economy, and the virus will prove to be for such candidates. I would expect wider margins for Democrats in the Legislature and one more D in Congress. I’m also starting to think that Gov. Jay Inslee will serve a full four-year term in Olympia, in part because he might have a hard time getting approval in the Senate after his high-profile attacks on Trump.

  2. I would caution that these results are a snapshot in time (and are already a couple of weeks old). I am concerned that as the shutdowns and other restrictions extend into May the pushback against them, particularly from lower income and working class voters facing the worst of the negative economic impacts, will increase significantly.


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