Support for governors sliding in states without vaccine mandates: survey

Governors in states without vaccine mandates or in states where such mandates are banned have "significantly lower" approval ratings than their peers in other states on their handling of COVID-19, according to a new survey from the COVID States Project.

Specifically, governors in states with vaccine mandates are averaging 52 percent approval on their management of the pandemic. In states where there are no vaccine mandates, that figure dropped to 42 percent, and in places where mandates are banned, only 36 percent of people approved of the governors' handling of COVID-19, the survey found. 

These findings could be temporary and the result of relatively recent COVID-19 spikes, but the authors of the study argued that support for vaccine mandates is a real factor in the public's perceptions of their state leadership. 

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"Our findings really suggest that individuals in our survey were rewarding these governors who took proactive steps to combat the pandemic and they were punishing governors who prohibited public health policies that would combat the pandemic like vaccine mandates," Alauna Safarpour, who helped conduct research for the study and serves as a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School, told Politico.

Safarpour added that governors deciding against vaccine mandates "should really assess what’s in their political best interests when it comes to the pandemic."

Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottHillicon Valley —TSA to strengthen rail sector cybersecurity When politics trump workers' health, we know who gets burned Judge blocks Texas social media censorship law MORE (R) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisHaley hits the stump in South Carolina Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor MORE (R) have been among the most outspoken figures against President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE's vaccine mandate, each taking measures to counter the measures in their states. And both are eyeing reelection next year. 

Abbott's overall approval rating has plunged in recent weeks, as Democrats including former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke seizes on Texas power grid in bid against Abbott McConaughey on Texas run: 'I will let you know shortly' O'Rourke raises M in first 24 hours of Texas governor campaign MORE (Texas) and actor Matthew McConaughey consider running against him. DeSantis holds a comfortable lead over his potential Democratic opponents and is a leading candidate for president should former President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE decide against running in 2024. 

When asked for comment about this matter, Christina Pushaw, DeSantis's press secretary, defended the governor's decision. 

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"Governor DeSantis makes decisions based on empirical evidence and his principles – not based on polls," Pushaw said in an email to The Hill. "Leadership is about doing the right thing, which is not always the most popular thing, especially in the short term."

recent CBS News/YouGov poll found that 57 percent of Americans would vote for a candidate that supported COVID-19 vaccine mandates while 43 percent of respondents said they would prefer a candidate who opposed such mandates. 

The Hill has reached out to Abbott's office for comment.