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Murphy: Reynolds’ pandemic response approval rating plummets, worst in U.S.
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Murphy: Reynolds’ pandemic response approval rating plummets, worst in U.S.

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Kim Reynolds

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks a news conference at the Statehouse on June 2 in Des Moines.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ public approval rating for how she has handled the new coronavirus pandemic is the lowest of any U.S. governor, according to a new survey.

Just 28% of Iowans said in July that they approved of the way Reynolds is handling the coronavirus outbreak, according to the survey.

That’s lower than any other governor’s pandemic response approval rating in the latest report, and a sharp plummet from the 54% of Iowans who in the same survey in April said they approved of Reynolds’ pandemic stewardship.

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The national average of governors’ pandemic response approval ratings is 51%.

The survey is part of the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States, a joint project of Northwestern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northeastern universities. The project has been surveying Americans on the pandemic since April.

For the most recent report, the project surveyed more than 19,000 Americans across all 50 states from July 10-26. The margin for error for Iowa’s results is plus or minus 6 percentage points.

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Reynolds’ pandemic response approval rating fell from 54% in April to 36% in May. It held steady there at 36% and 37% over the next two surveys, then dropped again to 28% in the July survey.

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That number puts the Republican governor on par with President Donald Trump: 29% of Iowans approve of the Republican president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the survey.

However, unlike Reynolds, Trump’s approval rating in Iowa, while similarly low, is also on par with the national average: 32% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the outbreak.

The other governors near the bottom of the pandemic response approval pile include Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (30%), Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (34%), Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (36%), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (38%), Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (38%), and Hawaii Gov. David Ige (39%). All are Republicans except Ige, who is a Democrat.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, had the highest pandemic response approval rating, 76%, in the July survey. He was followed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont (75%), Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York (71%), Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island (71%), and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (70%).

One of the study’s co-authors surmised the approval ratings favor governors who have been more cautious in their pandemic response efforts.

"In general, governors that have sought to reopen have been out in front of their citizens. They’ve moved faster than the public was comfortable moving," Matthew Baum, the Marvin Kalb professor of global communications at Harvard’s Kennedy School and a co-author of the study, told The Hill. "The governors who are doing really well are the ones that have acted most proactively."

Reynolds’ first order of widespread business closures was on March 17. She began loosening those restrictions in some parts of the state just more than a month later, on April 27.

Watch Now: Gov. Kim Reynolds holds press conference

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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