In a new Statesman Power Poll, Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s handling of the growing coronavirus pandemic is being rated positively by Austin-area civic leaders, with most respondents rating his response as good or very good.
Survey participants were split in their ratings of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s actions, but President Donald Trump’s response was overwhelmingly rated negatively.
In March, 213 Central Texas community leaders responded to the survey. The Statesman Power Poll surveys hundreds of these decision makers about local, state and national issues every month by email.
For our second poll, we asked Power Poll members to rate how three elected officials have handled the coronavirus pandemic: Adler, Abbott and Trump. Members chose one of these ratings for each of the officials: very good, good, fair or poor.
According to the survey, 46.95% of participants rated Mayor Adler’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “good”. Almost a quarter of voters, 24.41%, rated his response as “very good,” while 22.07% rated his response as “fair.” Only 6.57% responded with “poor” to describe the mayor’s actions.
In early March, Austin-area officials faced mounting public pressure to cancel the annual South by Southwest conference due to concerns about the coronavirus. Adler issued emergency orders to cancel the event on March 6. Since then, the mayor has issued order to close bars and dining areas of restaurants, to mandate social distancing, and most notably, for residents of Austin to stay home and halt non-essential work or shopping.
The largest share of voters, 33.8%, rated Gov. Abbott’s response to the pandemic as “fair.” The second highest share of voters, 29.58%, rated his response as “good.” An equal percentage of voters, 18.91%, rated Abbott’s response as either “very good” or “poor.”
The governor has also issued multiple executive orders since coronavirus cases began, such as to increase resources for hospitals. After multiple cities issued orders to close dining areas and bars, Abbott followed suit to close dining areas, bars and schools statewide and mandate social distancing. However, the governor has stopped short of using the term for a statewide order to stay home, instead issuing an order that lists essential businesses and extends social distancing rules and school closures. Though he hasn’t outright banned domestic travel, Abbott has also mandated quarantine periods for anyone traveling into Texas from areas with significant coronavirus infections.
As for President Trump, a majority of survey participants, 64.32%, rated his response to the pandemic as “poor.” Only 14.08% of participants rated his response as “fair.” “Good” and “very good” each received 10.8% of the vote.
Trump has faced criticism for initially downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic in America, from making comparisons to the flu, to suggesting cases would not rise and the virus would “disappear.” His administration announced travel restrictions barring entry into the U.S. from China, which took effect in February. In March, he banned travel from more than two dozen countries in Europe, a move that sent Americans abroad into a scramble trying to find flights home.
In addition, Trump has avoided taking a federal approach to management of medical supplies and has opposed enacting a naionwide stay-at-home order. He has also referred to the novel coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” a term experts say could stoke xenophobia.
NOTE: This article has been updated to clarify the dates of the Trump administration's travel restrictions.