Just a mere one in four Iowans approve of the way Gov. Kim Reynolds is handling the state’s coronavirus response, another update from a comprehensive national poll has found. Only 26% of those surveyed in a 50-state poll from Northeastern University, Harvard University and Rutgers University supported Reynolds’ approach to the pandemic. That was the worst approval of any governor in the U.S.
It’s the latest finding from the joint effort to track state chief executives’ ratings from voters as they grapple with the public health crisis. Reynolds has consistently been at the bottom of the pack of governors as Iowa has lurched between ineffective strategies to outright denial of the seriousness of the virus. Just ahead of Reynolds at 49 is Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida at 29% and at 48, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona with 30%.
Interestingly, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, who is also at the epicenter of recent COVID-19 activity and is one of the most anti-science governors on the pandemic, has an approval rating of 48%.
Reynolds was also last in the nation when the organization’s late July poll had her at 28%. There were warning signs for Reynolds early on, as the survey’s April poll showed only five other governors with worse ratings, even as 54% of Iowans backed her pandemic handling (Iowa Republicans found that result a reason to celebrate, but have been silence on the polls’ findings since).
Pres. Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response is rated just a little bit higher than Reynolds, with 34% of Iowans approving of his job. That’s still a major warning sign for his chances in the state against Joe Biden, as well as for Sen. Joni Ernst, whose own reelection campaign has been caught up in recent weeks with coverage of her comments promoting COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
In late August, Iowa jumped to the top of the list of states with the worst current COVID-19 outbreaks. Ames and Iowa City led the nation for greatest increased spread of a city area as college students returned to their unprepared state universities. As Reynolds has continually shown her own personal disregard for personal safety measures and downplayed the virus, some Iowans have followed suit, helping to maintain the state’s uncontrolled spread.
The return to in-person classes for most K-12 schools in the state have also been rocky, with nonstop questions over how Reynolds has presented COVID-19 data and with frequent quarantines for outbreaks at schools across the state.
by Pat Rynard
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