Survey results released Nov. 2, on the eve of the 2020 United States presidential election, showed that more Americans prefer the approach that infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is taking in the battle against coronavirus vs. President Donald Trump’s approach.
These results have been recorded despite Trump using Fauci as a foil before the election, contrasting Fauci’s more cautious approach with Trump’s call to “open up” schools and businesses despite a recent rise in coronavirus cases throughout the nation. Trump even hinted at a campaign stop that he might fire Fauci shortly after the election.
The CNBC/Change Research poll showed Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received approval from 72% of survey respondents on his coronavirus strategy. Trump, by contrast, only garnered support from 41% of respondents.
The survey also parsed numbers for six battleground states, as the pandemic has emerged as a central issue in the 2020 campaign. In those states where the election could be decided, Fauci’s approval ratings were at 66% compared to the 46% who approved of Trump.
As British media outlet the Independent noted, Fauci is the only person associated with Trump who has seen his or her approval rating rise during the last four years, according to a poll it conducted. The list of other public figures associated with Trump included allies like Vice President Mike Pence and First Lady Melania Trump as well as foes from both sides of the political aisle, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and one foe-turned-ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Though Trump has at times praised Fauci for his knowledge, he’s also discredited him and may have now turned on him altogether. CNBC reported at a Florida rally for Trump, early on Nov. 2, supporters chanted, “Fire Fauci!” Trump responded, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” Fauci also still receives death threats.
But as the Washington Post noted, Trump isn’t in a position to fire Fauci. Since Fauci is a career federal employee instead of a federal appointee, removing Fauci would require “a complicated process layered with civil service protections that require the government agency to provide evidence that there is a just cause for dismissal, including failure to follow orders or misconduct.”
Furthermore, someone in Fauci’s chain of command, such as the director of the National Institutes of Health or the health and human services secretary, would need to initiate that process.