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Rutgers University-New Brunswick

New National Poll: American’s Trust In Leaders and Institutions Declines During COVID-19 Pandemic

Rutgers scholar Katherine Ognyanova is available to comment on the latest survey data from The COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States, a joint project of Rutgers, Northeastern, Harvard, and Northwestern.

The researchers polled participants on whether they trust certain institutions and people to do the right thing to handle the coronavirus outbreak. Fifteen leaders and organizations included city governments, state governments, White House, Congress, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci, doctors and hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, scientists and researchers, police, banks, news media and social media companies. The survey also charts how U.S. public opinion has changed since late April.

To view the full report and findings, click here. Among the findings:

  • The White House and Congress saw the biggest decline in trust from 59% to 46% and from 55% to 42%, respectively, between late April and August.
  • Trust in President Trump to manage the COVID-19 crisis declined from 50% to 43%.
  • Levels of trust were lower in August than April for every institution and individual tracked, with the smallest decline being for Joe Biden, whose trust level fell from 51% to 50%.
  • Republicans expressed higher levels of trust in the police than Democrats or independents, with all three maintaining steady levels from July to August (83% in both cases for Republicans; from 56% to 57% for Democrats, and from 59% to 60% for independents).
  • Scientists and medical experts have the highest levels of public trust. Public trust in hospitals and doctors, as well as for scientists and researchers, have all remained at high levels (more than 85%) from April to August.
  • Among people who will get a COVID-19 vaccine, figures vary from a low of 53% for people who trust President Trump’s management of the COVID-19 crisis to a high of 71% among respondents who indicate trust in Joe Biden.
  • 68% of people who trust Fauci intend to get a COVID-19 vaccine, as did 70% who trust the news media, 68% who trust social media platforms.

Katherine Ognyanova, an assistant professor at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information, does research in network science, computational social science, social technology, media, civic and political communication.

The researchers surveyed 21,196 people across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia from Aug. 7 – 26.

For interviews, contact Megan Schumann, megan.schumann@rutgers.edu, 848-445-1907

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Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University–New Brunswick has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Neal Buccino neal.buccino@echo.rutgers.edu

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