National Survey Shows 49 Percent Support For Noem's COVID Response

May 1, 2020

Credit Office of Governor Kristi Noem

A new national poll asks people how they feel their governor is handling the COVID-19 response.
 
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and President Donald Trump each have approval ratings below 50 percent.
 
However, researchers say there’s a wide margin of error.
 

The survey finds bipartisan agreement on responses to the pandemic, like wearing face masks and closing non-essential businesses.
 
Three schools are behind the poll -  the Harvard Kennedy School, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities.

Matthew Baum is a professor of global communications and public policy at Harvard and helped coordinate the poll. Baum says some of the survey focuses on a governor’s actions.

“Were we to take this at face value, I think the real take away is the governor is paying the price for being perceived as taking a minimalist approach in response to the pandemic," Baum says. "It’s not popular with the residents of South Dakota, according to our poll. “
 
22-thousand individuals across all 50 states were surveyed in April. South Dakota’s sample size was less than 275, and has a margin of error of 9 percent.
 
Baum says South Dakota residents support the existing restrictions that are being relaxed. However they are evenly split over whether the state has overreacted or underreacted to the pandemic.
 
Baum says that’s typical of a survey with a low number of respondents.
 
“It appears that Kristi Noem is suffering the same fate as other red state governors that have resisted those measures or appeared to be reluctant to implement them,” Baum says.
 
When asked to respond to the survey, Governor Kristi Noem says she finds it hard to believe people want to get political during a pandemic.
 
“If we could just focus on important things, instead of playing politics all the time I think that we would be much better served by those in public office, the media, and out there on social media and in public,” Noem says. “This is a time for us to be united, not to continue to find ways to drive people apart. No, I’m not spending anytime looking at polls right now.”
 
The survey finds low support for cell phone location tracing in South Dakota. Closing schools, restricting domestic travel, closing non-essential businesses and cancelling events have higher approval ratings. Results also show politicians are ahead of citizens on the question of whether to reopen the country.