Some Republican MAGA governors have not only been slamming President Joe Biden for his vaccine/COVID-19 testing mandate — they have also been forbidding school districts or private businesses from having vaccine or mask requirements for their adult employees. That type of thing plays well with the MAGA crowd, but in Politico, reporter Lisa Kashinsky stresses that some GOP governors are seeing their poll numbers fall after fighting vaccine requirements.
"From Florida to Texas to South Dakota, GOP governors have been on the front lines of the war against vaccine mandates, barring immunization requirements in their states and threatening to fight President Joe Biden's federal vaccine mandate in court," Kashinsky explains. "Just last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott flat-out banned vaccine requirements, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis followed up by vowing to sue the Biden Administration. But new research shows governors in states without vaccine mandates — or where they've outright prohibited such a requirement — have 'significantly lower' approval ratings for their handling of COVID-19.
Not all Republican governors have been handling the COVID-19 crisis badly. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, for example, have always taken the pandemic seriously — and they have never promoted dangerous anti-vaxxer or anti-masker views or engaged in COVID-19 denial. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, pandering to their MAGA base, have downplayed the severity of a pandemic that has killed more than 4.9 million people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The COVID States Project reports that 52% of Americans approve of their governors' handling of the pandemic. But Kashinsky reports, "That coronavirus approval rating drops to 42% for governors in states with no vaccine requirements. And it takes yet another hit — dropping to just 36% — in states where governors have barred vaccine mandates."
Alauna C. Safarpour, who is with the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and is among the Covid States Project's researchers, told Politico, "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."