Gov. Tate Reeves walks out of the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson on Thursday, March 26, 2020, as he prepares to speak to media about the coronavirus during a press conference.

Gov. Tate Reeves’ approval rating for his handling of COVID-19 dropped from 56% in late April to 34% in late August in an ongoing survey that shows a decline nationwide in approval of governors’ management of the pandemic.

But approval in Mississippi of President Trump’s handling of the pandemic has remained relatively stable, at 46% in late April and 45% in late August.

The 50-state survey is a joint project of Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern universities. The latest survey, conducted from Aug. 7-26, is the ninth wave of the project. The project took an online survey of 21,196 people across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error for Mississippi’s results is +/- 7.

Reeves is among 12 governors with “notably low” approval ratings below 40%, the project reported, including those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas.

Overall, governors saw their average approval drop 3 points over the previous month, and from 63% in late April to 48% in late August. Trump’s approval for the same period went from 42% to 34%, but he has seen an uptick from his lowest approval of 32% in late July.

Republican governors, like Reeves, have on average dropped 12 points among Republicans surveyed and 19 points among Democrats. Democratic governors on average have dropped 8 points among Democrats and and 16 points among Republicans.

Reeves has, in turns, faced criticism in Mississippi for moving too slowly or not being strict enough with shutdowns and mandates such as mask wearing, and for being too strict. He has also faced some criticism for not himself wearing a mask in large public gatherings even as he urged or mandated that others do.

READ MORE: Gov. Tate Reeves extends statewide mask mandate

In a written statement last week, Reeves said he’s “done everything possible to balance freedom and responsibility” as Mississippi has dealt with the pandemic and that it has been successful.

“The state is open for business,” Reeves said. “And our coronavirus cases are plummeting. Our hospitals have the capacity they need today. Why? Because we’ve got limited, targeted interventions in place the people can realistically work within.”


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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.