Trump’s Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign Isn’t Working: Poll

Sam Stein
Drew Angerer/Getty

A clear majority of the American public, including self-identified Republicans, do not believe the disinformation that President Donald Trump keeps pushing around the spread of coronavirus. And even members of the president’s own party are skeptical of his argument that getting the country back to work needs to be as prioritized as public safety measures. 

A new survey conducted by Ipsos exclusively for The Daily Beast provides some of the clearest evidence to date that the president’s attempts to paint a rosy picture about the coronavirus’ spread throughout the country are not resonating beyond a small segment of the populace with a small exception for those who say they’re getting their information from Fox News. 

  • A full 73 percent of respondents, including 75 percent of Republicans, said that it was not true that “anyone who wants to get tested [for the virus] can get tested.” Just 17 percent said it was true.
  • Only 20 percent of the public, and just 25 percent of Republicans, said that they believed a vaccine will be available soon. Forty-two percent said that was false and 38 percent said they did not know.
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents, including a plurality or Republicans (46 percent), said it was false that the virus would go away on its own in warm weather, while just 13 percent said that was true.
  • And 61 percent of respondents said that they believed COVID-19 was more deadly than the flu; with 22 percent saying it was about the same and 11 percent saying they believed it was less deadly.

The question that seemed to generate the most confusion was on whether the Federal Drug Administration had “approved anti-malaria drugs to treat the virus.”

But even then, 45 percent of respondents correctly identified that statement as false, 22 percent said it was true and 33 percent said they did not know.

Collectively, the results present a portrait of a public that is sober minded about the coronavirus and unpersuaded by talk that life could return to normalcy soon. Over the past few weeks, Trump has suggested that the spread of coronavirus would abate as the temperature warmed. He’s repeatedly insisted that those who want a test can get one, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He’s downplayed the lethality of it by comparing it to the flu. He’s talked about a vaccine hitting the markets in weeks, if not months, and pushed hydroxychloroquine as a therapy for coronavirus, despite his own medical experts warning that there is nothing more than anecdotal data suggesting it could work. 

That Trump has had difficulty selling the public on these ideas suggests that he is operating from a trust deficit as he encounters the most existential challenge of his presidency to date. Though self-identified Fox News viewers were more likely to believe these claims than those who got their information from local news, national news or other cable channels, even they were skeptical of the president’s posture. Just 20 percent of those who watched the Trump-supportive cable channel said they believed anyone could get a test if they wanted to; just 31 percent said a vaccine would be available soon; and just 15 percent said the virus would go away in the warm weather. However, 44 percent of those who said they were getting their information from Fox News said that they believed the FDA had approved anti-malaria drugs to treat COVID-19, compared to 34 percent who said that was false. 

Fox News viewers were evenly split when it came to Trump’s most recent focus: getting American businesses back up and running on an expedited timeline even if it were to involve public health risk. Forty-seven percent of Fox News viewers said they agreed with the sentiment while 50 percent said they did not. 

But beyond that, the public was largely in favor of keeping public safety measures in place, even if it meant delaying a return to economic activity. Just 26 percent of respondents said that they agreed that “getting people back to work is more important than social distancing” while 69 percent said they disagreed. Those numbers were similar when isolating just for Republicans, with 57 percent disagreeing and 39 percent agreeing. 

Though the public may not be with him on his descriptions of and prescriptions for the coronavirus crisis, Trump has earned relatively positive views for his handling of the pandemic. Public opinion polls have consistently shown more people approving of the job he’s doing than disapproving. The Ipsos survey suggests one potential explanation as to why: self-identified Independents were relatively comfortable with the president’s push to start focusing on the economy. 

The survey found that 46 percent of Independents believed that the “cost to slow the spread of COVID-19 is too much for our economy to bear” compared to 39 percent who said they disagreed. Meanwhile, 39 percent of Independents said “getting people back to work is more important than social distancing”—the same percentage as for Republicans. A solid chunk of Independents (31 percent) even said that they believed “The media and Democrats are overstating the COVID-19 threat in order to damage Donald Trump’s presidency.” 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!

Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Pentagon intelligence employees raise concerns about supporting domestic surveillance amid protests
    Yahoo News

    Pentagon intelligence employees raise concerns about supporting domestic surveillance amid protests

    The government's increasingly militarized response to nationwide protests has sparked concern among employees of a Pentagon intelligence agency, who fear they might be compelled to help conduct surveillance on Americans participating in demonstrations, sources tell Yahoo News. The May 25 killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, in Minneapolis police custody set off a series of nationwide protests, including in Washington, D.C. In response, the Trump administration has sent a wide range of law enforcement and military personnel to the nation's capital to help police the demonstrations. The use of military personnel has prompted questions about overreach, including now at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

  • Cities remove racist monuments before protesters can topple them
    Yahoo News

    Cities remove racist monuments before protesters can topple them

    Early Wednesday morning, crews removed the statue of former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo from its base near City Hall, a long-standing demand by activists and a step promised by the city in 2017. Over the weekend, demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd had attempted to take down the statue on their own, vandalizing it in the process. Rizzo remains a polarizing figure in the city, a tough-on-crime police commissioner in the 1960s and a tougher-on-crime mayor who campaigned by urging citizens to "vote white."

  • Hong Kong: Tens of thousands defy ban to attend Tiananmen vigil
    BBC

    Hong Kong: Tens of thousands defy ban to attend Tiananmen vigil

    Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong have defied a ban to stage a mass vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing. Officers erected barricades around the city's Victoria Park, but some pro-democracy protesters knocked them down and held candlelit gatherings. Earlier, lawmakers approved a controversial bill making it a crime to insult China's national anthem.

  • Associated Press

    At least 39 injured in knife attack at China kindergarten

    A school security guard injured at least 39 people in a knife attack at a kindergarten in southern China on Thursday morning, state media reported. The motive remains unknown. The attack was an eerie throwback to deadly attacks at schools in China over past years that prompted security upgrades and that authorities have blamed largely on people bearing grudges or who had unidentified mental illnesses.

  • Protests in Minneapolis turned violent: Officials first blamed outsiders, but that’s not what arrests show
    USA TODAY

    Protests in Minneapolis turned violent: Officials first blamed outsiders, but that’s not what arrests show

    Read this: Officials blame 'out-of-state' agitators but those at the heart of protests are homegrown Riot, violence, looting: Words matter when talking about race and unrest, experts say Leggat, the security consultant, said intelligence reports from his colleagues indicate most of the hard-core protesters in Minneapolis were far-left or anarchists, and that far-right groups have not yet made a significant appearance. He said looting is typically done by locals – usually people with no criminal record who just get caught up in the moment. But direct conflicts with authorities come from a mix of both locals and outside groups who see these conflicts as a core part of their mission.

  • 'The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened': John Kelly defends Mattis
    Politico

    'The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened': John Kelly defends Mattis

    Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday that President Donald Trump "has clearly forgotten" the circumstances of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis's departure from the administration, breaking with his former boss to side with a fellow retired Marine Corps general. In an interview with The Washington Post, Kelly contradicted Trump's claim that he had fired Mattis. Kelly called Mattis “an honorable man” and described Trump's Twitter attack on the former Defense secretary as “nasty.”

  • Putin declines British invitation to take part in coronavirus summit: Kremlin
    Reuters

    Putin declines British invitation to take part in coronavirus summit: Kremlin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin does not plan to take part in an online summit on a possible coronavirus vaccine being organised by the British government this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday. Putin received an invitation to take part in the summit from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, the Kremlin had said. Scheduled to take place on June 4, the Global Vaccine Summit 2020 is designed to mobilise resources needed to ensure universal availability of the vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

  • Brazil, Mexico suffer record daily rise in coronavirus deaths
    The Telegraph

    Brazil, Mexico suffer record daily rise in coronavirus deaths

    Brazil and Mexico suffered a record rise in daily coronavirus deaths amid fears Latin America is reopening too soon. On Wednesday, Mexico reported a daily death toll that exceeded 1,000 for the first time since the outbreak began, while Brazil announced 1,349 deaths for the day, a record for the country. Both nations now rank in the top ten countries that have suffered the highest number of fatalities, but there is grave concern that, unlike their European counterparts, Latin nations have yet to reach the peak of the epidemic.

  • US suspends flights by Chinese airlines in new spat with Beijing
    AFP

    US suspends flights by Chinese airlines in new spat with Beijing

    Washington on Wednesday ordered the suspension of all flights by Chinese airlines into and out of the United States after Beijing failed to allow American carriers to resume services to China. The move adds to a growing friction between the world's two biggest economies amid the coronavirus crisis and in the wake of a two-year trade war that has not been fully resolved. The US action, which takes effect June 16 but could be implemented sooner if President Donald Trump orders it, applied to seven Chinese civilian carriers, although only four currently are running service to US cities including Air China and China Eastern Airlines, the Department of Transportation DOT said.

  • Counties in Florida, Iowa worry CDC as emerging coronavirus 'areas of concern'
    Yahoo News

    Counties in Florida, Iowa worry CDC as emerging coronavirus 'areas of concern'

    Federal authorities are worried about new coronavirus outbreaks in a number of counties, including in states that have eased lockdown restrictions, like Florida and Alabama, according to a document reviewed by Yahoo News. A list of “areas of concern” also includes persistent hot spots in Midwestern states — including three in Iowa and one each in South Dakota and Nebraska — that are home to major meat processing plants. The list, which has not otherwise been made public, comes from a document created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and disseminated to other federal agencies.

  • Police Identify German Man as Main Suspect in Madeleine McCann Disappearance
    The Daily Beast

    Police Identify German Man as Main Suspect in Madeleine McCann Disappearance

    Police in the U.K. have asked the public for help in tracking the movements of a 43-year-old German man identified as the main suspect in the mysterious disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Madeleine vanished from a hotel apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal's Algarve coast in May 2007, while on holiday with her parents and twin siblings. It is the first time British police have identified a key suspect, and senior police officers described the breakthrough to the U.K.'s Telegraph as “significant.”

  • Peaceful protest as calls for resignation grow for Montgomery County commissioner
    WPVI – Philadelphia

    Peaceful protest as calls for resignation grow for Montgomery County commissioner

    A peaceful protest was held in Montgomery County on Wednesday as calls grow for the resignation of Commissioner Joseph Gale.

  • Ahmaud Arbery: White man 'used racial slur' after shooting black jogger
    BBC

    Ahmaud Arbery: White man 'used racial slur' after shooting black jogger

    One of the men accused of murdering unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery in the US state of Georgia used a racial slur after shooting him, a court has heard. An investigator said Travis McMichael used the epithet and an expletive as Mr Arbery lay on the ground. Mr Arbery was jogging when he was chased down by Mr McMichael and his father in Brunswick in February.

  • 10 Years Ago Today, SpaceX's Falcon 9 Blasted Off for the First Time
    Popular Mechanics

    10 Years Ago Today, SpaceX's Falcon 9 Blasted Off for the First Time

    The rocket flew its first test flight on June 4, 2010. It's been a decade of spaceflight innovation ever since. From Popular Mechanics

  • As protests rock cities, Rand Paul holds up passage of anti-lynching bill
    Yahoo News

    As protests rock cities, Rand Paul holds up passage of anti-lynching bill

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is holding up the passage of an anti-lynching bill with broad bipartisan support — the latest delay in an effort to pass a federal law against lynching that goes back over a century. When the Emmett Till Antilynching Act passed the House 410-4 on Feb. 26, lawmakers expected it to pass in the Senate and head to President Trump's desk within days. A Senate version, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, had already passed by unanimous consent in December 2018 and again in February 2019, but the House version needed to pass separately.

  • Voices captured on an NYC police scanner can be heard saying protesters should be shot and run over
    INSIDER

    Voices captured on an NYC police scanner can be heard saying protesters should be shot and run over

    REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz A New York police scanner broadcast voices advocating violence against protesters. Audio clips of the communication have circulated on social media. In one clip, someone says: "Shoot those motherf---ers," referring to the protesters.

  • UK spy chief says no threat to Five Eyes alliance over Huawei
    Reuters

    UK spy chief says no threat to Five Eyes alliance over Huawei

    Disagreements over China's Huawei Technologies do not pose a threat to intelligence-sharing ties between Britain and its allies, the head of the UK's GCHQ spy agency said in an interview released on Thursday. Britain granted Huawei a limited role in its 5G network in January, defying calls to ban the company over security concerns and U.S. threats to cut off valuable intelligence feeds with countries that use the Chinese firm's equipment. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since come under renewed pressure from Washington and lawmakers in his own party, and London is now looking at the possibility of phasing Huawei out of its 5G network completely by 2023, officials say.

  • India, Australia sign defense, trade deals to bolster ties
    Associated Press

    India, Australia sign defense, trade deals to bolster ties

    India and Australia upgraded their relationship with a raft of agreements Thursday, including strengthening defense ties and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific maritime issues. The agreements were signed during a virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison. India and Australia see defense as a key pillar of the bilateral engagement and have recently conducted several military exercises.

  • 'What is this, a banana republic?': Pelosi unloads on Trump over gassing of protesters outside White House
    NBC News

    'What is this, a banana republic?': Pelosi unloads on Trump over gassing of protesters outside White House

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed dismay Wednesday at what happened outside the White House on Monday evening when security forces used tear gas and flash-bangs against a crowd of peaceful demonstrators to clear the area for the president. In an interview on MSNBC's “Morning Joe,” Pelosi said that her daughter Alexandra, a filmmaker and journalist, was at the scene that night and called her to tell her about what she had witnessed. “What is this, a banana republic?” Pelosi added.

  • This chart shows fewer than half of Black Americans were employed in April, highlighting how coronavirus layoffs have disproportionately affected Black communities
    Business Insider

    This chart shows fewer than half of Black Americans were employed in April, highlighting how coronavirus layoffs have disproportionately affected Black communities

    Andy Kiersz / Business Insider Unemployment rates for Black Americans had just fallen to record lows amid a booming economy before the coronavirus pandemic, but the resulting layoffs hit them harder than other demographic groups. Fewer than half of Black people included in the labor force were employed in April, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, further illustrating their greater risk for job losses amid economic upheaval on top of higher rates of COVID-19, which has now killed more than 100,000 people in the US. Employment data only includes the number of people employed and unemployed.

  • NYPD Says Looters Are Stashing Bricks. Brooklyn Locals Say Otherwise
    The Daily Beast

    NYPD Says Looters Are Stashing Bricks. Brooklyn Locals Say Otherwise

    On Wednesday morning, New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot F. Shea tweeted a low-resolution video of an unidentified officer picking up blue plastic crates on a city street corner. The crates, which appeared to be filled with chunks of masonry, had apparently been left next to a garbage can near Avenue X and West 3rd Street in Gravesend, a neighborhood by the water on Brooklyn's south end that's been largely untouched by the protests elsewhere in the borough and the city. "This is what our cops are up against: Organized looters, strategically placing caches of bricks & rocks at locations throughout NYC," Shea wrote.

  • Robert E Lee statue: Virginia governor announces removal of monument
    BBC

    Robert E Lee statue: Virginia governor announces removal of monument

    Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam has announced that a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee will be removed from the state capital. The monument has been vandalised during recent protests over the killing of African American George Floyd. At a news conference, a round of applause erupted when Governor Northam said the 12-ton statue would be removed.

  • Why The Middle East Fears Russia's Alpha Group Commandos
    The National Interest

    Why The Middle East Fears Russia's Alpha Group Commandos

    Russia and the Lebanese Islamic militia Hezbollah have become close allies in the civil war in Syria, with both of them supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in the conflict. When members of Hezbollah kidnapped four Russian diplomats in 1985, killing one of them, Russia dispatched the KGB's Alpha Group to deal with the situation. Alpha Group is part spy network, part counterterrorism team, part general-purpose commando squad — and entirely terrifying.

  • Powerful video from 1986 resurfaces showing Biden’s passionate speech against apartheid
    The Independent

    Powerful video from 1986 resurfaces showing Biden’s passionate speech against apartheid

    A powerful video of then-Senator Joe Biden speaking about apartheid South Africa has resurfaced. The clip, taken from C-Span coverage of a Senate committee in 1986, shows Mr Biden passionately speaking out in support of the majority black population of South Africa, and against the oppressive apartheid regime. Challenging Reagan administration secretary of state George Schultz on government policy towards South Africa, Senator Biden says he is disturbed by the rationale behind it, arguing that it amounts to doing nothing.

  • Seattle protesters are using umbrellas to block pepper spray and tear gas, mirroring tactics used by the Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations
    INSIDER

    Seattle protesters are using umbrellas to block pepper spray and tear gas, mirroring tactics used by the Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations

    REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson Seattle protesters are using umbrellas to shield themselves from substances like tear gas as they take part in the anti police-brutality protests that are sweeping the country. CNN reported that dozens of people opened umbrellas in front of a police barrier to protect themselves on Tuesday. Umbrellas may also be becoming a wider symbol of the protests in the city, after footage circulated of a police taking an umbrella off a woman before firing gas into a crowd on Monday.