Voters approve more of Fauci than Trump on coronavirus

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C.

Erin Scot | Pool | Reuters

American voters overwhelmingly approve of how the country’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll.

President Donald Trump gets much worse reviews.

Nationwide, 72% of likely voters said they approve of the job Fauci is doing in handling the outbreak and only 28% disapprove, the poll found. At the same time, only 41% of respondents said they approve of how Trump is managing the virus, versus 59% who disapprove.

In six battleground states, 66% of voters answered that they approve of how Fauci is handling Covid-19, versus 34% who disapprove. For Trump, 46% of swing-state respondents said they approve of how he is managing the outbreak, while 54% said they disapprove.

The poll findings came Monday, hours after the president suggested he could fire the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director following Tuesday’s presidential election. Fauci has warned of a brutal winter looming as coronavirus cases spike around the U.S.

Trump has downplayed the outbreak, which has led to more than 230,000 American deaths as he tries to win a second term in the White House. At a campaign rally in Florida early Monday, the president signaled he could try to dismiss the infectious diseases expert during a rampaging pandemic.

Supporters gathered at the event chanted, “Fire Fauci!” The president responded, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”

Trump’s presidential election rival, Democrat Joe Biden, aimed to leverage Fauci’s popularity during his final string of campaign stops. During remarks in Cleveland on Monday, he criticized Trump for threatening to oust one of the faces of the government’s virus response.

“I’ve got a better idea: Let’s keep Dr. Fauci on the job and fire Donald Trump,” he said.

Trump could face difficulties in trying to directly fire Fauci, a civil servant whose career has spanned decades.

On Sunday, 81,400 new Covid-19 infections were reported, putting the seven-day average for U.S. cases above 81,000. On Friday, Fauci told The Washington Post that “we’re in for a whole lot of hurt” and “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” heading into the winter.

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