Coronavirus Popularity Boost For Leaders – But Will It Last?

The popularity of world leaders during the coronavirus crisis is going through the roof, say opinion polls

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is flying high topping the political approval ratings for millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers with a broad-based YouGov survey.

Although the figures may change, he is also leading the rankings with most other polls.

For example, Johnson had a satisfaction rating of 36% with the British public in December, according to data from Ipsos MORI, jumping to 47% at the end of January and to 52% by mid-March.

Johnson is not alone, the leaders of all but one developed nation are basking in improved ratings.

Marmite Trump

Even Marmite US President Donald Trump has hit the top of his popularity with the American public, with 49% of adults approving of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the States.

But it’s a close run thing, with 45% disapproving.

American pollsters Morning Consult have published data that shows only Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has a dip in his fortunes, probably because he has played down the impact coronavirus is likely to have on his country.

Morning Consult suggests in most cases, a leader’s handling of coronavirus does not seem to affect their ratings.

Most leaders, including Johnson and Trump have faced some criticism without waning popularity.

The pollsters have a checklist of reasons that need ticking off to make a leader popular when disaster strikes.

The event has to be:

  • International
  • The fight against it likened to war time
  • The entire population has to be involved in the solution

Will the adoration last?

If this happens, the population focuses on the leader and rallies around showing patriotism as other partisan bias is set aside.

The next question, according to Professor Will Jennings, who has researched the topic of political popularity, is will the goodwill last for world leaders?

“The last rally-round-the-flag with similar global ramifications as COVID-19 was that following the 9/11 attacks on America. In the aftermath, US President George W. Bush’s approval rating jumped nearly 40-points to 90%,” said Jennings.

“The 9/11 rally lasted longer than any other in the history of US polling. More than a year later Bush’s approval rating was 68%, still nearly 20-points higher than his rating at the time of the attacks.

“Nothing, however, lasts forever. Bush’s popularity declined steadily throughout his first and second terms, and in the end only Presidents Truman and Nixon left the White House with lower ratings.”

Coronavirus Popularity Boost For Leaders - But Will It Last