State Policy Network
Poll Results: Who do Americans trust?
The outbreak of coronavirus has left many Americans uncertain about what to expect from daily life. For guidance, Americans have understandably looked to government and community institutions. New polling data shows current levels of trust in federal, state, and community institutions.

This data is from Heart + Mind Strategies’ latest Coronavirus Tracking Poll, which was conducted on September 2-3, 2020. This was an online quantitative survey. In total, a sample of n=1,008 interviews were conducted.

The outbreak of coronavirus has left many Americans uncertain about what to expect from daily life. How long will they be out of work? How long will schools be closed? When will we know enough about the virus to get back to everyday activities and events? For guidance, Americans have understandably looked to government and community institutions.

Since March, Heart + Mind Strategies’ Coronavirus Tracking Poll has monitored Americans’ trust in these institutions. The latest poll, conducted on September 2-3, 2020, shows current levels of trust in state and local entities, as well as sources of health information.

Trust in sources of information

Among Americans, trust in state and local entities–such as local health departments and local law enforcement–is high. Americans also indicate high levels of trust in health institutions, with physicians and health systems being the most trusted.

What about federal entities?

The CDC’s trust rating was at its highest on April 1-2 at 61%, and now is at its lowest of 44%. Trust in the federal government was also at its highest on April 1-2 at 35%. It has since reached a low of 21% (at the end of May and beginning of June) and is now at 27%.

Overall the least trusted institutions are:

Americans’ feelings surrounding the pandemic

The poll asked: How has the way you felt in specific areas changed, if at all, as compared to how you felt before this COVID-19 reality started?

Nearly half of Americans feel their sense of social order, freedom, and peace of mind eroding. The sense of a negative impact generally outweighs where people feel as if things are improving.

When it comes to emotions people name to describe how they feel, there was an uptick in negative emotions and some downward slide on positive emotions since August 19-20.

Unifying or dividing?

Also revealed in this poll are Americans’ perspectives on how this pandemic is affecting interactions with each other. It asked: Overall, would you say the outbreak of the coronavirus is bringing our communities and the people of our country close together and making us more unified, or is driving us further apart and making us more divided?

The sense of this outbreak being a unifying event in American history feels like less of a possibility to Americans.

About this polling

State Policy Network is working with Heart + Mind Strategies to track the American public’s opinions through this time of upheaval and change. The Heart + Mind Strategies’ Coronavirus Tracking Poll has been fielded weekly since March 18-19, 2020. In June, the polling schedule shifted to bi-weekly, with the most recent field dates of September 2-3, 2020, informing this article. This was an online quantitative survey. In total, a sample of n=1,008 interviews were conducted.

Categories: Polling
Organization: State Policy Network