On Politics: Help for Small Businesses

Good morning and welcome to On Politics, a daily political analysis of the 2020 elections based on reporting by New York Times journalists.

Demonstrators protested Washington State’s stay-home order to slow the coronavirus outbreak in Olympia on Sunday.

After New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced on Sunday that the state’s coronavirus infection rate appeared to be “on a descent,” Trump reveled in this rare dose of cautiously positive news.

During his news conference on Sunday night, the president played a two-minute clip of Cuomo at his own daily briefing, and he gave himself a pat on the back for helping New York expand its hospital capacity.

But Cuomo has also raised alarms about the lack of a national framework for virus testing, repeatedly calling for more federal assistance to ramp up testing. And he is far from the only governor to have raised similar concerns. Mike DeWine, the Republican governor of Ohio, said on Sunday that the federal government should be doing more to make tests available.

But at Sunday’s briefing, Trump pushed back. “They said the same thing with ventilators, and now we have so many that we’re going to be able to send them and help other countries that are in need,” Trump said, dismissing demands for a more robust national testing system. “We’re doing great on testing.”

Polling suggests that Americans are not so sure. In a Fox News poll released this month, four in five voters nationwide said they were worried about their state running out of medical supplies, with more than half of those people describing themselves as very concerned.

In poll after poll, when it comes to confronting the pandemic, Americans are more likely to give high marks to their state governments than to the White House. But they still think the buck stops with the president. By a factor of nearly two to one, Americans said in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that they ultimately considered the handling of the pandemic to be the federal government’s responsibility.

Fifty-four percent said in a recent Pew Research Center poll that Trump was not doing a good job of working with state governments. And 55 percent gave him low marks on responding to the needs of hospitals and medical professionals.

For Trump, an equally troubling number in that poll has to do with perceptions of his trustworthiness, as he seeks to shift blame for supply shortages away from himself. Respondents to the Pew poll were particularly unlikely to give him good marks on providing the public with reliable information about the pandemic. By a 15-point margin, Americans were more likely to say he was not doing this well.