TAMPA, Fla. (May 13, 2020) – The University of South Florida and Nielsen today announced the results of a statewide survey of Floridians to assess public opinion related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the findings of the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey on COVID-19 governance and policies:
Public concern remains high. A majority agree with a statement that they are personally concerned (52.2%) or are concerned about someone they know (76.6%) contracting the novel coronavirus in the next three months.
Public concerns are justified, but worries remain about response. While a near universal number of respondents (86.5%) agree that public concern related to the coronavirus is justified, worries also persist about the public reaction. Four in 10 individuals surveyed agree that public reactions to the pandemic will do more harm than the disease itself.
Strong support for statewide mitigation policies, including face mask requirements. Healthy majorities of individuals surveyed report support for the state closing restaurants and bars (88.9%), limiting public gatherings (94.3%), limiting gatherings in houses of worship (87.4%), issuing “stay at home” orders (86.2%), closing beaches and other public recreation areas (81.6%), fining individuals who violate “stay at home” orders (62.2%), instituting nightly curfews (62.9%) and requiring individuals to wear masks in public places (79.3%).
State and local governments gain more approval and trust than the federal government’s response. A plurality of Floridians (48.9%) approve of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Approval of the federal response is 2.5% lower than state government and 20% lower than local government. A majority of individuals surveyed (54.9%) also trust the federal government “a great deal” or a “good amount” to provide accurate information about the pandemic. Trust in federal information is 8.3% lower than that for state government, and 21.7% lower than that for local government.
Majority approve of and trust the state government’s response. A majority of Floridians (51.5%) approve of state government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Almost two-thirds of individuals surveyed (63.1%) also trust state government “a great deal” or a “good amount” to provide accurate information about the novel coronavirus situation.
Robust approval and trust in local government response. Nearly seven in 10 Floridians surveyed (68.8%) approve of their local government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Greater than three-quarters of Floridians (76.6%) also trust their local government “a great deal” or a “good amount” to provide accurate information about the novel coronavirus situation.
Partisan differences emerge on trust and approval. Registered Democrats are significantly more likely to disapprove (52%) of the federal response to the COVID-19 situation, compared with 10% of Republicans and 35% of Independents/Third Party identifiers. Similarly, 44% of Democrats disapproved of the state government’s response, compared with 11% of Republicans and 32% of Independents/Third Party identifiers.
The president’s and governor’s press conferences matter. Two-thirds of Floridians (66.3%) say the president’s daily press conferences in April were a source of “a lot” or “some” information about the novel coronavirus situation. Greater than six in 10 Floridians (61.4%) report the same about the governor’s daily press conferences in April.
The survey of 600 Floridians was fielded April 15-24, 2020, and the results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-4. Full survey results are available here.
USF and Nielsen intend to release a second set of survey data next week focused on economic, consumer and work effects of COVID-19.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.