How COVID-19 is changing world leaders’ approval ratings for better or worse.
First published in August 2020.
For some leaders, their government’s response to the coronavirus crisis has led to boosts in public opinion, even in countries where approval of political figures is traditionally scarce. In France, for example, President Macron had been languishing in the mid-20s range before the pandemic took hold (after over a year of Gilets Jaunes protests which, at some point, even threatened Macron’s mandate). As data from Morning Consult shows, from 26% on March 1 this is now sitting at a relatively lofty 33%, marking a seven point jump.
Angela Merkel, in Germany, jumped from 42% to 55%, whilst Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau’s approval now reaches 52% from 38% in March.
While many factors can influence public approval, one of the most extreme examples of a post-outbreak rise can be observed in Australia. There, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has seen a monumental turnaround, from 33% approval to 62% as of August 18.
Where this coronavirus goodwill ends though is in the United States, where the starkly divided population has been unmoved by Donald Trump’s crisis response to cross any of the deeply set party lines. Here, polls show a slight fall of two points for the president.
In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro’s poor handling of the spread of the virus was initially cause for a significant dip in the ratings but he has since seen a gradual uptick in approval – not yet enough to return to pre-Covid levels though, the far-right president is still down 10 points to 48% from 58% on March 1.