Latest Daily update Updated Friday December 18, 2020

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Economic Outlook and How to Talk About Student Loan Debt Relief

There is near-unanimous support for additional economic relief as three in four Americans view the state of the economy negatively; nearly two in three support canceling at least some student loan debt, and find convincing arguments framing it as an economic stimulus and closing the racial wealth gap.

Key takeaway Three in four Americans say the economy is “not so good” or “poor” and a majority are uneasy about their personal finances; The public overwhelmingly supports a new round of economic relief and is worried about the lack of help from the federal government for those in need; A majority support canceling student loan debt, and the most convincing reasons for canceling student loan debt include economic stimulus and closing the racial wealth gap.
Friday, December 18, 2020

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,003 registered voters conducted December 10-14, 2020. 102 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters and 105 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters.

Key takeaways

  • Three in four Americans say the economy is “not so good” or “poor” and a majority are uneasy about their personal finances.
  • The public overwhelmingly supports a new round of economic relief and is worried about the lack of help from the federal government for those in need.
  • A majority support canceling student loan debt, and the most convincing reasons for canceling student loan debt include economic stimulus and closing the racial wealth gap.

Americans Are Pessimistic About the State of the Economy

Three in four Americans say the economy is currently “not so good” or “poor,” and more than half say the “economy is getting worse.”

  • Republicans remain the most optimistic about the state of the economy: 41% say the economy is “excellent” or “good,” and 53% say the economy is either “getting better” or “staying the same.”

A Majority of Americans Uneasy About Their Personal Finances

Americans have grown 5 points less confident in their personal financial situation since October 12, driven largely by pessimism among Republicans (down to 52% from 62% confident).

New Economic Relief Enjoys Nearly Unanimous Support

Nearly nine in ten Americans support a new round of economic relief, including three in five who “strongly support.”

  • On a separate question, Americans are split on who to blame for lack of relief (41% blame Democrats in Congress, 41% Republicans in Congress). Among those who “strongly support” new relief, 51% blame Republicans for lack of progress on a new round of coronavirus relief, while just 34% blame Democrats.

The Economic Impact of the Pandemic and Lack of Federal Aid Are Americans’ Top Worries

While a majority of Americans are worried about a range of issues related to the pandemic, including the economic impact and holiday travel, lack of aid from the federal government is a top worry across party lines.

Two in Five Americans Have Had or Currently Have Student Loan Debt

Groups more likely to currently have or have had student loan debt include Americans 18-44 (50%) and Democrats (45%). Nearly half (45%) who currently have student loan debt owe $25,000 or more.

College Degrees Seen as Unaffordable, With Mixed Views on Whether or Not They Are Worth It

Nearly half of Americans say college degrees today are “very unaffordable,” with a plurality saying they are “not worth” the cost of taking out loans.

  • Among those currently with debt, 62% say it is “very unaffordable” and 48% say it is “not worth it.”

Two in Five Strongly Support Canceling Some Student Debt

A plurality of Americans “strongly support” canceling a portion of student loan borrowers’ debt, with a third saying the federal government should cancel all student loan debt and another third saying they should cancel some.

  • Among those who currently have student loan debt, a resounding 75% “strongly support” canceling a portion of student loan debt, and among those who used to have debt who paid it off, 60% support overall.

Economic Stimulus and Closing the Wealth Gap are the Most Convincing Reasons to Cancel Student Loan Debt

The top reasons Americans see for canceling student loan debt are that it is a form of stimulus amid an economic crisis and that canceling student loan debt would help lessen wealth inequality.

  • Among those who support canceling some, not all debt, these are also the top reasons to cancel student debt.

Top Concerns About Canceling Debt: Unfairness to Those Who Have Already Paid, Irresponsible Borrowing, National Debt

The most concerning items about canceling student debt include unfairness to those who have already paid off their student loan debt, that it would encourage irresponsible borrowing, and the national debt.

Most Want Big, Bold Changes in Washington, But “Compromise” Still Has Some Appeal

Since January 2020, an increasing majority say the “old normal” is not working and that bold political changes are needed, while just two in five say they prefer politics to get back to normal. At the same time, Americans are split between compromise to get things done and bold solutions to take on today’s challenges.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,003 registered voters conducted December 10-14, 2020. 102 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters and 105 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters.

Key takeaways

  • Almost three in four Americans now know someone who has been infected with coronavirus.
  • Three in five Americans say they are likely to get the coronavirus vaccine.
  • The biggest concerns about Trump’s handling of the vaccine are letting partisan politics get in the way of a smooth rollout and Trump and Republicans’ encouraging of the spread of dangerous misinformation.

Nearly Three in Four Know Someone Who Has Been Infected With Coronavirus, a Significant Increase Since the Election

In the last two months, the share who know someone who has been infected with coronavirus has jumped nearly 20 points, with an overwhelming majority knowing someone who has gotten infected.

  • Groups especially likely to know someone who has been infected include college-educated Americans (79%), midwestern Americans (79%), and Hispanic Americans (77%).

The Pandemic is Seen as the Most Important Issue for President-Elect Biden and the New Congress to Focus On

The issues Americans rate as most important for Biden and the new Congress to focus on include the pandemic, jobs and the economy, and health care.

  • When asked what Trump and the current Congress should be focused on, Americans pick the same top six items.

As Cases Surge, Biden and Democrats More Trusted to Handle the Pandemic than the Republican Party

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are trusted more on a range of issues than the Republican Party, overall and among independents.

Pessimism About the Pandemic is Back Near Levels Not Seen Since Mid-Summer Wave

Since last asked in mid-October, the share who say the “worst is yet to come” in the pandemic has grown 6 points, while the share who say the “worst is over” has declined by 3 as cases in America continue to rise.

  • Among independents, 65% say the “worst is yet to come,” as do 75% of Democrats.

Half Continue to Support More Aggressive Social Distancing

A near-majority of Americans continue to say we “need more aggressive social distancing” while only 18% of Americans say we “should relax social distancing.”

  • One in three (34%) Republicans say we should relax distancing, while 38% say we are doing the right thing.

Few Americans Say Pandemic Threat Has Been Exaggerated, But the Question Divides Republicans

A plurality of Americans say the threat of coronavirus is generally underestimated in the news.

  • Republicans who do not know someone who has been infected by coronavirus are more likely to say it has been exaggerated (54%) than those who do know someone who has been infected (42%).

Majorities of Democrats and Independents Support New Lockdowns Amid Community Coronavirus Outbreaks

Half of Americans support lockdowns for non-essential businesses if there are new outbreaks in their community.

  • Compared to other Democrats, Democrats who oppose lockdowns are especially likely to be from blue collar or service industry jobs (31%), to lack a college degree (75%), and to come from communities of color (50%).
  • Republicans who support lockdowns are especially likely to identify as moderate or liberal (44%).

Most Americans See Risk in Traveling for Holidays

Majorities of Democrats and independents say it is risky to travel to see others for the holidays and people should just stay home, while a majority of Republicans acknowledge the risk in traveling, but understand why people would do it after the last year apart from family.

  • On a separate question, while 71% of Democrats say they have traveled much less than they normally would in the holiday season, only 49% of Republicans say the same with 32% who say they have traveled as usual.

Pandemic Pain Comes Most from Day-to-Day Activities

Items that Americans rate as less difficult across party lines include catching the coronavirus, having children who have not been able to go to school, or not being able to visit elderly family members.

Three in Five Likely to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine

While a majority of Americans say they are likely to get the vaccine, nearly a third say it’s unlikely.

Experts and Regulators Widely Trusted to Tell the Truth About the Vaccine

While Biden and a group of former presidents are trusted by a majority of Americans overall to tell the truth about the safety of a coronavirus vaccine, people like Dr. Fauci and groups like the FDA are more trusted by independents and Republicans than political leaders.

Top Concerns on Trump’s Vaccine Handling: Partisan Politics Interrupting a Smooth Roll-Out and Dangerous Misinformation

The two issues that concern Americans who have either major or minor concerns with Trump’s handling of the coronavirus vaccine are Republicans’ allowing of partisan politics to get in the way and the spread of misinformation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,003 registered voters conducted December 10-14, 2020. 102 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters and 105 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters.

Key takeaways

  • The public increasingly feels Trump should concede.
  • Ratings of Trump’s job handling remain deeply underwater while Biden’s approval rating in handling the presidential transition is net positive by nearly 20 points.
  • A near-majority of Americans say Republicans have been too slow to accept Biden’s win.

Calls for Trump’s Concession Continue to Grow

Since November 12, there has been an 11-point net increase in the share who say Trump should concede, including a 10-point net increase among independents and a 12-point net increase among Republicans.

  • On a separate question, 80% of Americans think Biden will be inaugurated in January.

Trump’s Job Approval Remains Underwater as Americans Give Biden High Marks for His Handling of the Transition

While Trump’s handling of his job as president is 12 points in the negative, Biden’s approval ratings on his handling of the transition are at net +19.

  • Since November 12, Trump’s net approval has declined 5 points (from -7 to -12).

As Americans Continue to Hear Negatives on Trump and the Election, Biden Positives Show the Start of a New Era

While 90% of Americans say they have heard at least “a little” about Trump in the last few days, 83% say the same of Biden. Top positives on Biden revolve around his Cabinet picks and his plan to combat the pandemic.

  • Since September 14th, there has been an 11-point decline in the share who say they’re hearing “a lot” about Trump (from 53% to 42%).

A Majority Say Trump’s Claims About Voter Fraud Are Not Justified

On a follow-up question, one in ten say Trump’s claims about voter fraud are justified, but that these claims make them less likely to vote for fear all elections “are rigged”; 18% of Republicans say the same.

Most Americans Remain Confident in 2020 Election, With Declines in Confidence Driven By Republicans

Since November 12, levels of confidence in both the counting of the results of the election overall and their own ballot specifically have remained high among Democrats and independents.

  • However, confidence in the election overall has declined by 20 points among Republicans (from 46% to 26%).

Plurality of Republicans Say Election Results Decrease Confidence in Electoral College System

Two in five Americans say the 2020 election “makes no difference” in their confidence in the Electoral College, while three in ten say it decreases their confidence in the Electoral College.

  • Among Republicans, 39% say it decreases their confidence, while 21% of Democrats say the same.

Half Say Deciding the Presidential Election By Popular Vote Would Make Our Government Work Better

A near-majority of Americans say amending the Constitution so the candidate who wins the popular vote wins the presidential election would have a positive impact on making our government work better for the people.

Only One in Three Say Republicans Have Acted Appropriately in Their Response to the November Election

More than four in five independents (45%) say Republicans have been too slow to accept Biden’s victory, and nearly one in five (19%) Republicans say the same.

Top Reasons Republicans Have Been Unwilling to Recognize Biden’s Win: Disbelief, Fear of Retribution, Appeasing the Base

Among independents, Republican opposition to basic concepts of democracy is seen as the top reason for not recognizing Biden’s win; for Move-Past Trump Republicans it is because Republicans want to appease their base.

Exhaustion and Anger Are the Top Emotions for Both Parties, Though Democratic Excitement Is on the Rise

Since January, Democrats have grown 8-points more “engaged and interested in taking action” and 18-points more “excited” about politics, while Republicans have grown 32-points more “exhausted” and 29-points more “angry.”