Annals of Reopening

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May 12, 2020 12:27 p.m.

The whole conversation about ‘reopening’ continues to presume growing public pressure to do so and to move faster than the country already is. But all the available evidence about public opinion suggests this isn’t the case. The smattering of public polls which have come out over the last month show the states with aggressive containment policies with sky high approval ratings for their governors and much lower ones for states that are moving quickly to end or loosen the lockdowns. Now a new poll from The Washington Post shows the pattern even more systematically and starkly.

Here’s the visual breakdown.

It’s remarkable how closely these numbers hew to containment policies. Almost the more containment, the higher the support and vice versa. Brian Kemp of Georgia is the most extreme example and the most aggressive on ‘reopening’. We shouldn’t read too much into these numbers. Public crises have rally round effects. But that really makes the point more clearly: aggressive reopening policies manage to break the normal tendency to rally around a governor or other leadership figure during a public crisis.

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