Great Lakes Poll

New statewide Ohio survey shows 70% of Ohioans prioritize public health over the economy.

BW Poll: Ohioans trust Governor over White House, are cautious about lifting COVID-19 restrictions

April 27, 2020

As Ohio waits to hear Governor Mike DeWine's detailed plans to begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions, a new statewide poll shows that 70% of Ohioans prioritize public health over the economy. 

The Baldwin Wallace University Ohio Poll also shows that 85% of voters in the Buckeye State approve of DeWine's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 50% who approve of how President Donald Trump has handled the crisis. That gap has widened by five points from a Great Lakes Poll conducted in late March.

Spearheaded by BW's Community Research Institute (CRI), in partnership with Oakland University and Ohio Northern University, the new poll, a single-state survey as part of the Great Lakes Poll initiative, questioned self-identified registered voters in Ohio on a range of issues, including the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic response and how the president and governor are handling the crisis, along with the 2020 election.

Key Results on COVID-19 

TRUMP/DEWINE APPROVAL RATINGS – About 85% of Ohioans approve of the way DeWine is handling the crisis, an increase of five points from the March Great Lakes Poll. In contrast, half of Ohioans approve of the way Trump is handling the crisis. 

TAKING ACTION - Eight in 10 Ohioans believe DeWine "acted at the appropriate time," but only four in 10 Ohioans believe Trump acted at the right time. 

Analysis: "DeWine has emerged as one of the most proactive governors in the country, largely because he views preventing the spread of COVID-19 as a matter of life and death." - Dr. Lauren Copeland, associate director of the BW CRI

A MATTER OF TRUST – Whereas 90% of Ohioans trust DeWine to 'provide accurate information on COVID-19,' only a slim majority trust Trump to do the same. Ohioans also look to the director of Ohio's Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, for accurate information on COVID-19.

Analysis: "Ohioans view DeWine as a credible source of information. He doesn't sugarcoat anything, and he leans heavily on public health experts, including Dr. Acton. His apolitical, no-nonsense briefings have become Ohioans' go-to source for facts and reassurance." - Dr. Lauren Copeland

SUPPORT FOR RESTRICTIONS – Nine in 10 Ohioans support the restrictions DeWine imposed during the COVID-19 crisis, including the stay-at-home order. A supermajority of those polled worry that protests over stay-at-home orders will trigger another spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Analysis: "Despite protests over Governor DeWine's restrictions, a large majority of Ohioans support his policies and are worried about going back to business as usual too soon. Many are worried that others could spread the virus and not even know it." -Dr. Robert Alexander, political science professor at Ohio Northern

REOPENING TIMELINE - About half of those polled agree with DeWine's plan to begin reopening Ohio's economy on May 1. At the same time, a majority don't think many businesses nor places of worship should reopen yet. Instead, they are worried that the U.S. will move too quickly to lift restrictions. Once restrictions are lifted, they will take a "wait and see" approach to resuming their normal activities.  

PANDEMIC FEAR – There is still a lot of fear about COVID-19. More than 80% of those polled say they are feeling some level of anxiety about the virus. Ohioans are concerned that they will spread the virus, and they are even more concerned about getting it from others. Close to half (47%) think the worst is yet to come, but 55% think the U.S. healthcare system can handle it.

ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY - A whopping 94% of Ohioans are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, and a supermajority of those polled (68%) are concerned about their personal finances. Yet, respondents believe that public health is more important than the economy. 

Analysis: "Despite concern about severe economic effects of the shutdown, Ohioans are cautious about the health risks of reopening the economy, which could have an additional negative impact on businesses trying to reopen." - Dr. Tom Sutton, director of the BW CRI

NEWS SOURCES – Large majorities of Ohioans say they obtain COVID-19 news from local and national media, with 84% relying on local news media outlets "often" or "sometimes." Ohioans are much less likely to lean on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, for COVID-19 news.

Analysis: "Misinformation about the coronavirus is rampant on social media. Even fact-checking sites can't keep up with fake news. Therefore, it's not surprising that Ohioans are turning to broadcast news networks and local media outlets for information about COVID-19." - Dr. Terri Towner, political science professor at Oakland University

Key Results for 2020 Presidential Election 

TRUMP VS. BIDEN – The November contest between Trump and Biden appears to be a tossup. In March, Trump bested Biden 47% to 43%. Although statistically tied, Biden now leads Trump 45% to 44%. Ohio Democrats favor Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris as running mates for Biden. 

Analysis: "Ohio is absolutely critical for Trump to score another Electoral College victory this fall. Early on, many thought Ohio wouldn't be in play. Biden running dead even with Trump in the Buckeye state counters this narrative." - Dr. Robert Alexander 

Topline and Methodology

The Baldwin Wallace University Ohio Poll was conducted between 4/20/20 and 4/25/20 in partnership with Oakland University (Michigan) and Ohio Northern University. The survey was conducted online among self-identified registered voters in Ohio (n = 797) using Qualtrics, an online sample aggregator. Sampled individuals were emailed by Qualtrics and responded using a personalized link to the survey. 

This special survey, which targeted Ohio voters only, is in addition to four BW Great Lakes Polls of registered voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which provide a side-by-side comparative analysis of voter views in Midwest states that all went for President Obama in 2012 and President Trump in 2016 – three of four by very slim margins.

The BW Great Lakes Poll is scheduled to return to the field for the final two 2020 surveys in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the fall.

Access the final detailed methodology statement and the full topline data report, plus CRI background and more at bw.edu/2020-great-lakes-poll.