WBUR Poll: Mass. Nurses Prefer Baker's Leadership Over Trump's

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Nurses working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic across Massachusetts overwhelmingly approve of the way Gov. Charlie Baker has handled the crisis, according to a new poll from WBUR.

The same poll, which surveyed 402 registered nurses across the state (topline, crosstabs), found these front-line medical workers disapprove of President Trump's leadership by close to a two-to-one margin.

The contrast between Baker and Trump's approval couldn't be more pronounced. The poll found that 87% of nurses across Massachusetts approve of Baker's leadership, with only 4% disapproving. Only a third of the nurses surveyed said they approve of Trump's leadership, while 58% said they disapproved.

"Some of that has to do with the state that we live in," says Steve Koczela, president of the the MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey. "The numbers echo in some ways the way the overall population feel about [Trump and Baker]. But I think there's also an element of [the poll] that is professional response."

Donna Babineau, an intensive care unit nurse at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, says she's impressed with Baker's leadership. She especially appreciates Baker's successful effort to bring in a shipment of protective face masks from China on the New England Patriots' team plane.

"The fact that he actually reached out to the Patriots to get us masks when the president said we had enough was a great sign of using his political position to help us," she says.

Babineau says she believes Trump has only made the crisis worse.

"I think he acted way too late," she says. "And in his daily briefings — I watched them faithfully because we're the end user of his decisions — he does not have a grasp of what's going on in the real world."

Lots of other nurses share that sentiment, including Nelsy Cecilia De Paula Tamburro who also works at UMass Memorial. Her biggest concern about Trump is that he appears to ignore the advice and guidance of medical professionals.

"Like advising people on TV to use medications that haven't been approved," she says.

De Paula Tamburro says, by contrast, Baker has a very different approach.

"Gov. Baker [is guided] by what the professionals tell him to do, like what the doctors, scientists tell him," she says.

While most of the nurses surveyed have little faith in the president, the WBUR poll found that 84% of them approve of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who serves on the president's coronavirus task force.

The poll also found that a large majority of nurses — three quarters of them — approve of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's leadership.

Koczela says the poll echoes a number of national surveys that find Americans are counting on their governors and local officials much more than the president during this crisis.

"We're seeing that all across the country, where residents are turning to their local leaders, and really expressing strong approval for the way they're handling their jobs," Koczela says. "In almost every case [they have] higher approval numbers than Donald Trump."

Koczela says the approval of local political leaders relates to another key finding of the WBUR poll: a large majority of nurses express concerns about efforts to re-open Massachusetts too quickly. Of those polled, 68% expect the state will re-open within two months. But almost eight in ten say re-opening without more testing is a bad and dangerous idea.

"Because I'm seeing the fallout of what happens when patients get sick," Donna Babineau says.

While President Trump pushes efforts to re-start the economy, Babineau appreciates Baker's more cautious approach. She says while COVID-19 cases at her ICU have begun to level off, she is still treating new patients every day.

"I guess I equate it to being at war," she says. "Patients are still dying. [On Sunday] we had two patients who died within an hour of each other. I feel that once people start getting out and moving around a little more, those numbers are going to spike again — because [the virus] is not eradicated. It's not gone."

Babineau says the virus won't be gone until there's a vaccine. And If things re-open too quickly without one, she's worried that she and her fellow nurses will continue to work in what feels like a war.

This segment aired on May 7, 2020.


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Anthony Brooks Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.



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