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Most Democrats support World Health Organization on coronavirus, most Republicans don't

'If the WHO gets dragged more fully into the debate, I would expect the partisan numbers to sharpen dramatically,' Rasmussen said.

Published: April 14, 2020 12:14pm

Updated: April 14, 2020 1:48pm

Most Democrats have a favorable opinion of the World Health Organization's handling of coronavirus, while most Republicans have an unfavorable view, according to the Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen.

The poll found 55% of Republicans had a "Very Unfavorable" or "Somewhat Unfavorable" view of the WHO, while just 20% of Democrats felt the same.

On the reverse side, just 38% of Republicans had a "Very Favorable" or "Somewhat Favorable" view of WHO, compared to 70% of Democrats. Independents were evenly divided. Additionally, most of those with strong positive views are Democrats, while most with strong negative views are Republicans.

WHO has landed in President Trump’s crosshairs for its handling of the coronavirus, with organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus coming under fire for allegedly failing to warn the world about the speedy, lethal nature of the coronavirus originating in China.

“The W.H.O. really blew it,” Trump recently tweeted. “For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”

Given the president's negative response to the WHO, "these dynamics are not all that unusual," Rasmussen said. "If the WHO gets dragged more fully into the debate, I would expect the partisan numbers to sharpen dramatically – with Republicans lining up to support the president's view and Democrats resisting anything the president suggests."

Multiple U.S. lawmakers, as well as Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, have called for Ghebreyesus’s removal. A petition has garnered nearly 950,000 petition signers urging the WHO director's ouster. Despite the dramatic headlines, Rasmussen noted that the debate over the WHO is still relatively insular.

A University of Southampton study suggests the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% had China moved to contain the virus three weeks sooner. 

"Only a third of voters express strong opinions about the World Health Organization's role in handling the pandemic (16% Very Favorable, 18% Very Unfavorable)," Rasmussen noted. "This suggests that the Beltway dispute has not really penetrated the nation's political dialogue. Additionally, the numbers suggest fairly soft support for the WHO. For a little known group with such a positive name, a 52% favorability rating is fairly tepid. That may simply be due to the fact that we're in the midst of a pandemic lockdown." 

Respondents were asked: "Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the way the World Health Organization has handled the coronavirus pandemic?" They responded as below:

  • 16% Very Favorable
  • 36% Somewhat Favorable
  • 20% Somewhat Unfavorable
  • 18% Very Unfavorable
  • 11% Not Sure

The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted April 9-11, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. Margin of sampling error: +/- 2.8% for full sample. 

To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click below:


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