Reynolds’ Approval Craters On COVID As School Reopening Nears

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.

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
Posted 8/1/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

9 Comments on "Reynolds’ Approval Craters On COVID As School Reopening Nears"

  • When will our governor stop playing Trump’s game and start supporting teacher/ student safety and overall community health? HEALTH & SAFETY OVER MONEY!!!

  • She was doing fine until she went to D.C. and met with Trump. Now, she’s a Trumpet and it’s been downhill ever since. She’s apalling and needs to go with the rest of the Rs!

  • Reynolds has been playing dishonestly from the start with covid data. Why, for example, would she dissect Iowa City and Cedar Rapids into different regions when there is so much commuting and shared business between the two cities? The only answer is that it lowers case counts in each region and thus not triggering a shutdown, even while cases exploded. She continues to “massage the data” or lie about the data, insisting all the while that she was following the metrics. Well, if your metrics are false to begin with it doesn’t matter if you follow them. She got her pat on the head from trump. Apparently that matters more than Iowans suffering and dying.

  • I’m relieved. After hearing a GOP operative claim on TV several days ago that Reynolds’ public approval rating was really high, I started wondering where the heck I was living.

    Iowa may be politically red for the time being, but at least it seems most Iowans still know belligerent incompetence when we see it. And for more Iowa health-related political fun and games, see the new BLEEDING HEARTLAND post about the giant raise received by Caitlin “Doin’ What Kimmie Wants” Pedati.

  • Kim Reynolds is just another authoritarian anti-science Republican official. Whether that can be blamed on Trump is unknown. Sending out all of the absentee ballot request forms for the primary and now for the general election suggests that Paul Pate is planning to primary her. He’s not the “voter’s friend” but he can certainly run on that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *