I’ve written over the YouGov website about the latest YouGov polling on how the government are handling the corona outbreak here.

Polls across the board show that the public have a generally negative attitude towards how the government are handling the outbreak. The attempt here is to look under the bonnet a bit about why, and which parts. In that sense people seem to rate the government’s handling of the coronavirus in economic terms seems to be a little better than perceptions of how they are combating the virus itself. However, the very lowest results are on perceptions of the level of organisation – just 20% think they appear to be in charge of the situation, only 17% think they have a clear plan.

Full article is here.


1,991 Responses to “What people think the government are getting wrong about the Coronavirus”

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  1. @bfr

    “It’s surely not that hard to grasp the distinction?”

    I’d imagine that would depend on whether one actually was attempting to grasp the distinction, or simply deploying a convenient line.

    Also seems some genuine or deliberate forgetting of the difference between the legal outcomes of a vote and people’s opinions. The vote for president has clear legal affects, as trump will find out on the 20th Jan when he ceases to be president. The 2016 EU ref had very clear political impacts, but precisely zero legal ones.

    @colin/pete b?

    Is it that odd? We do the same here in a manner, calling the winning party as each seat trickles in, we don’t wait until every MP is decided and all recounts finished. Same for other larger scale votes where each counting area announces as they’ve finished.

  2. @James B

    “The 2016 EU ref had very clear political impacts, but precisely zero legal ones.”

    I fail to see you argument there. Given the question;
    “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

    The electorate delivered a clear answer. The result had to be legally enacted, which our political and civil service have undertaken admirably and with appropriate diligence. Yes, there were political problems along the way…. nevertheless….

    The outcome may not be to the satisfaction of everyone, but it’s been properly, and legally, accomplished.

  3. Today the Times reported that Kate Bingham, head of the UK Vaccines Taskforce had failed to declare that she manages private investments in two of the companies working to develop covid vaccines and this followed a report that she had disclosed commercially sensitive Government information to a meeting of private equity firms in the USA.

    It is now being reported that she has contracted a private PR consultancy for the taskforce at a cost of £675,000:

    https://twitter.com/Gabriel_Pogrund/status/1325180546675322880?s=19

  4. James B
    “Same for other larger scale votes where each counting area announces as they’ve finished.”

    That’s the point. It’s after they’ve finished not while the count is still in progress. There might be reporters on site saying that it looks as though votes are piling up for x, but results aren’t announced by the media until the returning officer has read them out.

  5. Well, be fair, I couldn’t stay away from UKPR on a day like this, could I? Labour’s surging (:-)) poll lead is an added bonus of course, but the formal confirmation of Biden winning the nerve-shredding US presidential race has left me both exhausted and exhilarated. I’m happy beyond measure in a rather unexplained way, but I am buzzing nonetheless. Haven’t felt this thrilled by a political event since I saw Big Tone glad-handing the crowds down Downing Street in 1997! Since 2005, not many elections, both here and abroad have gone my way. I was pleased about Hollande in France, but that proved to be a fleeting pleasure, and I was glad to see Tsipras win in Greece and the Left in Spain, but most other expressions of democratic wills, in both elections and referenda have rather dismayed me. A populist, mainly right wing, bandwagon started rolling after the 2008 financial crash and I’ve been somewhat crushed under its wheels. Glad tidings today though; one of it’s large wheels has fallen off. Maybe the steering wheel; who knows?

    Rather than fixating as some have done on the size of Trump’s vote and the closeness of the result, as if this is a triumph for “Trumpism”, it is worth noting that Biden is likely to end up winning this thing pretty comprehensively, in both the popular vote and electoral college. Trump got a big army out on to the battlefield but, hey, didn’t old Sleepy Joe do pretty well too in marshalling the biggest presidential popular vote in US history?? He’s flipped the rust belt states too, somewhat dismantling the theory that the “left-behinds” in western democracies are turning irreversibly rightwards. Red Wall lessons anyone?

    The House election results were less good, but again we see a Democrat popular vote victory translate into a Republican win, such is the skewed mess that the US electoral system has become. Maybe Biden can govern in such a way that the Democrats capture the Senate in the mid term elections in 2022. It’ll be an interesting four years, that’s for sure.

    One brief observation on Labour’s recent improvement in the polls. Part Government woe and misfortune the cause no doubt, but part Starmer’s strong stance on Corbyn and the EHRC report too, I think. Lots of wavering, recently deserted Labour voters are watching Starmer’s Labour with interest. Some will still be sceptical no doubt, but I sense many are liking what they’re seeing. They were never gone for good and are looking for excuses to return. Johnson is giving them some, but the re-emergence of Labour as a mainstream social democratic party will give them some others too, bringing them back in their droves eventually. Starmer has to keep his eye on the prize and the long game that is required to obtain it.

    Anyway, a fleeting return for me. Hope everyone’s well and I will now return to my exile.

    Back another day, no doubt.

    All the best.

    (and up the Villa, of course!) :-)

  6. Pete B

    I think that those doing the counting have a fair idea of two things:

    1. the total numberr of votes cast

    2. the geographical provenance of groups of votes.

    So if one candidate is, say, 10,000 votes ahead, and we know that there are still 30,000 to count, but the vast majority of those 30,000 votes are from areas very likely to vote for the candidate who is already ahead, then it is possible ‘to call’ the result, even thpugh there is a large number still to count.

    If, on the other hand, the margin by which a candidate is ahead is less than the probable number of votes stilll to be awarded to the opponent then the race cannot be called.

    At least that is how I understand it.

    ,

  7. @peteb

    “That’s the point. It’s after they’ve finished not while the count is still in progress.”

    It’s actually a far more transparent process. Voting tallies are relased by counties as they go and observers can calculate when one candidate has in prwctical terms an unassailable lead. They then call the result. It’s different but not weird.

  8. Relations between the UK and US will be challenging under Biden. Not only has Biden taken a clear side on the Brexit debate, but also he seems to have a personal dislike for Boris Johnson, whom he identifies with Trump. I trust American pragmatism will prevail though and the two countries will be able to find areas of common interest that will prove mutually advantageous.

  9. Always nice to welcome back site dilettantes for their occasional forays.

  10. John B
    Yes I do get that. I suppose it’s the fact that a running total of the count is passed to the media that seems odd to me. That and the fact that

    “So if one candidate is, say, 10,000 votes ahead, and we know that there are still 30,000 to count, but the vast majority of those 30,000 votes are from areas very likely to vote for the candidate who is already ahead”

    And then the whole nation (apart from Trump) accepts a result, though it’s just based on a probability.

    Still, I’m sure there are features of our system that seem weird to others. It’s just what I’m used to I suppose.

  11. This is where the Trump campaign held the press conference heralded by President Trump as very important:

    https://twitter.com/shoe0nhead/status/1325142127844601863?s=19

    Sad.

  12. M Bruno,

    The US Democratic party considers one of its great achievements to be the GFA.

    Clinton himself got involved and through George Mitchell helped achieve the deal.

    One thing I do think non-Labour Party people have failed to grasp is that protecting this agreement is protecting the parties legacy from left to right.
    The GFA hold a similar place in the Democrats heart and PM Johnson will feel the consequences of this is the next 4 years.
    I expect some device to drop the IM Bill whilst claiming merely introducing and getting close to final reading did it’s jib and renders unnecessary which will be sophistry of course.

    Apart from this moderate democrats like Biden would probably be May/Hammond type Tories if they lived in the UK so should get along fine with Johnsons successor in 2022.

  13. Corrected

    M Bruno,

    The US Democratic party considers one of its great achievements to be the GFA.

    Clinton himself got involved and through George Mitchell helped achieve the deal.

    One thing I do think non-Labour Party people have failed to grasp is that protecting this agreement is protecting the parties legacy from left to right.
    The GFA holds a similar place in the Democrats heart and PM Johnson will feel the consequences of this is the next 4 years.
    I expect some device to drop the IM Bill whilst claiming merely introducing and getting close to final reading did it’s job and renders it unnecessary which will be sophistry of course.

    Apart from this moderate democrats like Biden would probably be May/Hammond type Tories if they lived in the UK so should get along fine with Johnsons successor in 2022.

  14. Hireton

    Yes, it’s a very strange turn of events, and it seems that the media have largely ignored it.

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/trump-sparks-confusion-after-announcing-press-conference-at-small-landscaping-firm/ar-BB1aN9M3?ocid=msedgntp

  15. Batty

    Bit of a surprise to see you back here. Everybody has missed you as I expect they will say.

    As you know I’m a big Trump fan so, as we football fans are wont to say, I’m as sick as chip.

    The girls are pleased though that, after a four year hiatus, the Bidens will continue one of America’s better traditions, going back to 1897, and there will be a dog in the White House – two actually, first dog and second dog.

    That’s quite poetic really as the ex President will be in the dog house.

    Or, better still, the courthouse.

  16. @Jim Jam

    Are you sure the Conservatives will dump Johnson in 2022 ? And do you think Rishi Sunak for example would be a May/Hammond kind of Tory PM?

  17. @pete b

    I may be mistaken here as I’ve not been paying a huge amount of attention but my understanding is that the ‘partial’ counts are finished counts but of the constituent counties in a state. This is to an extent an assumption as much of the earlier reporting included county level assessments of votes and why such votes went particular ways (e.g. the florida county with a high cuban population coming out in favour of trump).

  18. @JIB

    “I fail to see you argument there.”

    Really? It’s fairly well trodden ground. The vote, legally, was just a vote. The act that enabled it had no provisions as to what to do with the resulting numbers, nor even what constituted a ‘win’ (simple majority? (widely assumed but no legal basis) super majority? double majority? (see the swiss)). As far as it’s statutory nature went, the simple fact that it was held and votes counted satisfied the European Union Referendum Act 2015 in its entirety. Politically it was obviously far more significant, resulting in the present sh*tstorm.

    There is therefore a fair difference between people who continued to argue to not brexit (which may have been dubious politically, but not legally) and those arguing that trump should stay in the white house. Trump, legally (assuming no freak shenanigans, including, but not limited to, a large showing of faithless electors), will cease to be president early next year.

    There is obviously still no obligation for trump fans to turn into true believing democrats mind, they are perfectly entitled to argue that biden is a worse choice and to vote republican in 2022.

  19. Next week is effectively the last one in which a trade deal can be reavhe6d between the UK and EU in time for it to be ratified and implemented by 31 December.

    There were two important independent reports on the UK’s preparedness for the end of the transition period neither of them especially encouraging:

    https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/preparing-brexit-how-ready-uk

    https://www.nao.org.uk/report/the-uk-border-preparedness-for-the-end-of-the-transition-period/

  20. Hireton
    “Next week is effectively the last one in which a trade deal can be reavhe6d between the UK and EU in time for it to be ratified and implemented by 31 December.”

    Are you sure? They’ve been saying that for about a month now. It’s getting stupid.

  21. @James B

    Given that we have legally left the EU, and I hope, will have legally binding future relationships after the end of this year, I still do not follow your point.

    If Trump refuses to leave the White House, I assume he is to be hauled out.

    I do not follow your chain of argument, beyond indications that you think the result of the EU referendum should have been ignored or revisited. Maybe you are more similar to disgruntled Trumpists than you realise?

  22. Not sure it has been mentioned on here, but Trump’s ‘legal defense fund’, through which he is raising donations to fund the election court cases, has small print on the donation forms that show the donor agreeing that up to 50% of the donations can be used to pay off Trump campaign debts.

    This raises a question: Is Trump pretending to want to fight to the death, in order to secure donations to pay off debts?

  23. @Alec

    Trump is known to have a mountain of debt.

    The big money deserted him, maybe he is bust?

  24. Alec
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

  25. This gives a flavour (flavor?) of the mood that awaits the UK in Washington – https://twitter.com/TVietor08/status/1325137653851828230

    It reads like some average Joe getting angry at Boris on Twitter, but in fact, Tommy Vietor was the National Security Spokesman for the Obama/Biden administration.

    They haven’t forgotten Johnson’s insult of Obama, and they are deeply unimpressed by him as an individual.

  26. Jib
    That’s an interesting article and puts some detail on some things I was only vaguely aware of. It’s a bit self-contradictory though. e.g.
    “Trump’s 2020 campaign is vapid by comparison. There’s no unifying campaign slogan, no clear agenda for a second term, no tangible pitch to voters….As for a second term, Trump is promising 10 million new jobs, more tax cuts, a quick return to normal, and a redo on unfulfilled 2016 promises, such as a terrific new health care plan. Most politicians overpromise, but Trump does it on an almost outlandish scale.”

  27. @Pete B

    Trump won 2016 on vague promises and aspirations.

    Had it not been for Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) I suspect he would have won in 2020.

    It’s ironic that the King of chaos was undone by the chaos of a microscopic virus.

  28. This seems a fitting end to Trump’s Presidency. :-)

    https://twitter.com/FSPhiladelphia/status/1325102014964109312

    To clarify, President Trump’s press conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia.
    It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping— no relation with the hotel.

  29. @STATGEEK

    They denied states the option to count postal votes early for a reason.

    They didn’t deny the states that option at all – most states did exactly that, because their rules and processes allowed it. It’s nothing to do with the Federal government, just what rules each state already had.

    That’s why Biden started with a big lead in eg Florida and then went on to lose it in the course of Election Night.

  30. @JIM JAM

    The senate is harder for the Dems to take with current voting patters.

    Each state gets 2 seats and the Dems do better on average in more populace states.

    True to an extent yes – specifically they win by very large margins in several of those states, whilst the Republicans tend to win by relatively narrow margins in many of the others.

    I have no maths for this but recall that in 2018 the Dems took 12 million more votes in senate contests than the Reps but still lost seats.

    I think it was a bigger margin than that – but then an 11 million vote headstart because California was contested between two Democrats didn’t hurt :-)

    More seriously, it’s not a useful measure, because the same states aren’t on the ballot each time. It would be like totalling up the raw votes each party got in GB council elections – meaningless without adjustment for which council areas are actually voting each time.

    This might be justified as a way of protecting less populous states from big states in, through the POTUS and HOR, ignoring their priorities but it will have the effect of hampering the Dems; at least for the first few decades of this century, things change of course over time.

    It may well have that effect, but then as I wrote last night another factor is where the Dem support is growing and falling. Definitely growing out West, but they’ve maxed out those seats now. Definitely falling in Florida, and that’s looking more like a wave year state than a marginal now. It’s why resolving Georgia over the next couple of months is going to be such a massive deal.

    As for the future, yeah the demographics will change things. Georgia and eventually Texas might well become more commonly Democratic; various parts of the Mid-West might well trend more Republican. And if you take a longer view, climate change could have as big an impact on population changes as immigration has. So many variables, it’s probably not wise to try much beyond the next few years :-)

  31. @ALEC

    Well it was little noticed that Puerto Rico has just voted for full statehood, and the Democratic Party and Joe Biden already had a policy of supporting full statehood for Washington DC, while Biden also stated that Puerto Rico should have the right to self determination – which they have now done.

    In a non-binding referendum (we love those on here). By what looks like it might well end up at a 52-48 margin (we love those on here too!).

    A complex margin because it’s a binary question on a three-way debate – Statehood, Independence or the status quo.

    Be worth looking for the turnout when it becomes available too – there have been various referenda there on this subject in recent years and some have been very low turnout because various people feel it’s not the right question or it’s not relevant.

    I have no idea how the constitution works in the US in this regard and whether the senate must approve new states,

    Both Houses of Congress need to approve with a two-thirds majority. That might clarify how likely any change is in the near future!

    Republicans are, obviously, opposed to both. Just defeated Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally opposed Puerto Rican statehood on the basis that “it would create more Democratic senators”, so I think we can see how American concepts of democracy and representation remain fluid, in an intellectual sense.

    Indeed. Just like concepts of democracy and representation here in the UK remain fluid when it comes to parliamentary boundary reviews, or which voting system to adopt in a given polity or election. Plus ca change…

  32. Laughed at this on Twitter

    Trump, in a rage, pushes the nuclear button tonight. Discovers, that for the past four years, it has actually been a Tunnock’s Tea Cake.

  33. @TOBYEBERT

    FYI the broadcast media in the USA are not required to be politically neutral/balanced, unlike the UK. So FOX is reliably Republican and CNN is Democrat.

    Indeed. The issues come because many of the other networks are somewhat Democrat-leaning, shall we say. And this attracts a lot of criticism from both sides – for being biased against the Republicans, but also for being biased against the more radical Democrats. It’s why “the MSM” is invariably an insult on social media.

  34. @ALEC

    There is an interesting discussion underway in the US about polling. I’ve been following Nate Silver’s comments on this, and there are some early thoughts which may prove to have relevance.

    To be fair, early thoughts from Nate Silver right now are going to be highly based around “how do I get myself out of this?”.

    Having been the guru who showed that the numbers were smarter than the prevailing wisdom for the last two elections, he’s this time dug himself into a big hole by consistently dismissing potential reasons for error that he now tries to explain, and by telling us to smartly interpret the numbers in a way that it turns out compounded rather than nullified the errors.

    He’s not alone in that – the Cook Report got it even more wrong, with their “don’t expect a contested election” piece, and as I pointed out when you posted that rather patronising piece of Nate Silver’s just before the election (the one that said why people who thought this election was close were just clutching at straws), he did at least have the commercial sense to have posted a contrary article he could cite if Trump actually won.

    But let’s not pretend he’s a remotely neutral arbiter in unpicking this mess – he’s a guy with a lucrative reputation to salvage.

  35. @PETER CAIRNS

    Technical question.

    If Biden steps down for health reasons, Harris takes over an nominates a new VP who must to endorsed by a majority of the FULL Senate, ie get at least 51 votes!

    What happens if the Republicans still hold the Senate and vote No?

    My understanding is that the Vice Presidency would remain unoccupied.

    In practical terms, an absolute ton of ribbons and monuments and Blue Ribbon Commissions would have to make do with someone slightly more irrelevant.

    In political terms, were the President to die, resign or be removed from office then the Speaker of the House would become President.

  36. Anyone got turnout figures yet?

    A few days back I either heard or guessed at 61.1% (I forget which), then later I guessed at 60%-ish when I was reverse calculating some numbers.

    Just curious.

  37. @EoR

    “In political terms, were the President to die, resign or be removed from office then the Speaker of the House would become President.”

    Nancy Pelosi. Democrat. Aged 80, although presumably she would be older should such a scenario occur.

  38. Isn’t it interesting that US pollsters like Trafalgar Group, IBD/Tipp and Rasmussen, which were ridiculed and called outliers here, were actually the most accurate in terms ofthe national popular vote and margins in the battleground states ?

  39. @Statgeek

    I saw estimates that turnout could be as high as 67 %. Just for the sake of comparison, it was 55.7 % in 2016.

  40. “Turnout” is a fairly flexible concept.

    A meaningful measure of turnout would be the % of those eligible to be on the electoral register.

    The turnout of those who actually appear on the register can be a much reduced number.

  41. Statgeek,
    “Nancy Pelosi. Democrat. Aged 80, although presumably she would be older should such a scenario occur.”

    And right there is a problem with US politics. Almost enough to make you glad we have the the Lords as a polticians retiremen home.

  42. @EoR – “To be fair, early thoughts from Nate Silver right now are going to be highly based around “how do I get myself out of this?”.”

    Don’t really agree with that.

    Silver’s prediction was for a 89% final chance of a Biden win (tick) but where he said there was a very fine line between a 290 Electoral College vote result and a 400+ landslide.

    He said Trump still had a not negligible chance of winning (“roughly the same odds that it’s raining in downtown Los Angeles”). He called Pennsylvania as the most likely tipping point state, said that there was unlikely to be a clear result on election night, and with the final overall vote tallies likely to show a Biden lead of 5 – 6%, he was a normal polling error off the national vote.

    State by state results were OK. He had Florida and North Carolina flipping, along with main 2nd District in the Biden column, so they were misses, but he called Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Nebraska 2nd District.

    It’s by no means a perfect set of predictions, but it comes out as a reasonably accurate reflection of the night, I would suggest.

  43. Hilarious scene as legal representative for the future inmate of Federal Prison Camp West Virginia confused the four seasons hotel with four seasons agricultural supply outlet.
    The sight of deranged sycophants giving a press conference between a funeral directors and an adult book shop is comedy gold.

  44. My personal barely evidenced view is that the state with the dodgiest democratic record – and this time likely to have suppressed a ton of mostly Democratic votes by not delivering them – is Florida.

    There is a bit of an issue with letting political winners decide how to select themselves or not.

    Seeing the ridiculous sight of hundreds of voters having to return with ID to make their perfectly legal vote in Arizona reminded me that asking for photo ID is straightforward voter suppression. A number gave up and walked away – how many didn’t show up at all because they didn’t have nay or couldn’t easily get it?

  45. The transition timescale seems very long in USA. Hearing Jo Biden say his Covid team will be starting work on Jan.20th brought it home to me. They could be experiencing a Third Wave by then.

  46. The Internal Market Bill, and the threat to break international law, looks like it is going to be amended imminently via the Lords with no Government re-amendment.

    We can thus expect the deal with the EU to be signed rapidly now as well.

  47. Boris Johnson is looking a bit isolated internationally now. Just him and Australia with a bit of Japan thrown in.

    A choice between crashing & burning and Brexit In Name Only – although that was probably always the choice really

  48. A few commentators joining in with Alec’s gaslighting – blaming Trumpism on the “liberal left”.

    Not the failure of the Centre who have actually governed for 30 years or more?

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