Worst in the country.
That’s how Iowans feel about Gov. Kim Reynolds’ leadership and decisions during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an update from a sweeping, national survey. Just 28% of Iowans approve of Reynolds’ handling of the crisis, good for dead last among all U.S. governors.
She is only one of five governors in the country who holds a worse approval on the pandemic than Trump in their state, the poll from Northeastern University, Harvard University and Rutgers University showed. The margin of error for the Iowa sample was 6%.
Reynolds’ approval rating has imploded since the survey’s first report showed her at 54% in April. Nationwide, the researches found that governors’ ratings have declined during the summer as COVID-19 cases and deaths have increased in the country, while much of the rest of the world has started to get their outbreaks under control.
But the worst-ranked governors all have clear similarities: they rushed to reopen their economies (if they ever closed them at all) and resisted measures like mask mandates. And results do not seem to follow the typical partisan divide. Republican governors in largely-Democratic states, like Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Phil Scott of Vermont, enjoyed the highest approval ratings in the poll of 76% and 75%, respectively.
Iowa Republicans touted the poll’s April findings, cheering the fact that Reynolds held a 54% approval rating in that survey. But there were very clear warning signs for the Iowa governor even back then, as that approval ranked among the very bottom of state executives nationwide — just five governors had a lower approval than Reynolds.
? BREAKING ?
— Iowa GOP (@IowaGOP) May 5, 2020
Early on in the pandemic, the public seemed to give their state officials the benefit of the doubt as they faced an unprecedented crisis. Those who took decisive actions, like Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Kentucky’s Andy Beshear, saw approval ratings in the 80s. But the governors who followed a Trump-like approach in downplaying the virus, focusing on an early reopening and ignoring massive, deadly workplace outbreaks in their state, as Reynolds, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem and Florida’s Ron DeSantis were, saw their approval only in the 50s.
Now, those governors who have taken a more reckless approach appear to be paying for it dearly with voters’ loyalty.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey joins Reynolds near the bottom at 30% approval. His state became the world’s worst COVID-19 hot spot after the Republican rushed to reopen the state’s economy. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who hosted President Trump’s rally in Tulsa that appears to have resulted in the infection and death of former presidential candidate Herman Cain, has an approval of just 34%.
Instead of heeding the warning signs that Iowans weren’t on board with her casual approach to the virus, Reynolds pushed on and actively fought efforts by local officials to implement better safety measures. The state has said local cities and counties cannot enforce their own mask mandates, leading to Iowa being one of just two states in the entire nation that do not have any local or statewide mask requirement.
In recent weeks, Reynolds has stirred significant outrage over her administration’s changing guidance for school reopening. She has limited local school districts’ abilities to develop their own plans, reversing course on the state’s rules after many schools already had developed their return-to-class policies.
On Thursday, Reynolds announced that schools could not close due to a COVID-19 outbreak unless the county they’re in had a 15% positivity number in their tests for two consistent weeks and had 10% of their students absent during the same time. The World Health Organization only advises reopenings if positivity numbers are under 5%.
Reynolds this week even engaged in medical conspiracy theories. When told that medical experts say mask usage would slow COVID-19’s spread, she responded, “But there’s people that would tell you just the opposite.”
by Pat Rynard
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