Donald Trump picks a fight with Anthony Fauci

As well as the president himself, one of the faces that has rapidly become familiar to Americans watching the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis has been that of Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci’s testimony to a senate committee, warned that “little spikes” of the disease could become more serious outbreaks if lockdown guidelines are relaxed too soon. This earned him a rebuke from President Donald Trump who is known to be keen to open up the US economy as soon as possible. Trump described Fauci’s comments as ‘not an acceptable answer’ in relation to re-opening schools.

Amid signs that the president and one of his most senior scientific advisors may be diverging, public perceptions of the two men are already starkly different:

From March to April, trust in Dr Fauci rose slightly while comparatively lower levels of trust in the president remained static.

When we look at the partisan breakdown, unsurprisingly trust in Trump is very high (77%) among Republicans but very low (17%) among Democrats. In contrast, trust in Fauci is equally high regardless of party (77% of Republicans, 74% of Democrats).

Among the full spectrum of public officials included in our polling, Fauci leads the pack along with other public health officials ahead of more partisan political figures.

What is unknown is how much of a impact a campaign of overt criticism from the president will have on Dr Fauci’s trust ratings. However, an instructive example is to look at De Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation.

The WHO has been a target of President Trump’s ire for many weeks and trust in him is lower among Republicans than Democrats. However, it is still net positive overall and net positive even among Republicans.

Full data tables are available here.