Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Daily

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 is a dynamic time, and as a result, Navigator will transition to a daily tracking poll on the coronavirus crisis. For the foreseeable future, we will be tracking public opinion every weekday, releasing on a Tuesday-Saturday schedule. In addition, future editions will provide more messaging guidance to the progressive community. 

This edition of our daily tracking release features findings from a national online survey of 1,003 registered voters conducted March 22-25, 2020.

Key Takeaways

  • Americans are personally feeling the impact of the economic downturn.
  • Americans appear to have lost some confidence in Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • There is broad demand for strong, sustained federal action to address the financial challenges faced by everyday Americans.

Economic Sentiment Dramatically Flipped in March.

As we’ve noted in prior releases, March saw a dramatic reversal in economic sentiment. It hasn’t been evenly distributed – with the biggest declines among independents and Republicans.

  • Between January of 2020 and the latest day of tracking, positive ratings declined by 27 points among Democrats (to 17%), 37 points among independents (to 18%) and 36 points among Republicans (to 50%).

An increased share of Americans know someone who has lost their job due to the pandemic.

  • This is hitting younger Americans particularly hard – 58% under age 45 know someone who lost their job.
  • One-in-five (19%) report that their own hours have been cut back, and nearly two-thirds (62%) know someone who has had their hours cut as a result of the pandemic.

As the economy continues to slow and future income grows more uncertain, nearly half of Americans say they are putting off major purchases with many taking other personal financial steps.

There is a slight uptick in just the last three days in the number of Americans who report putting off major purchases (+3) and rent and mortgage payments (+3), as 20% now say they are dipping into their savings.

In a year, more think the economy will be better than worse.

  • This finding holds across party lines, though we see a partisan divide similar to most economic metrics.

Trump’s Coronavirus Approval Slips.

Americans’ evaluations of Trump’s response (48% approve/48% disapprove) appear to be slipping back towards the levels seen in the early stages of his response.

  • This is a decrease from March 24th (52%/43%), and his coronavirus approval rating is now inching closer to his overall approval rating (46%/52%).

More Are Hearing Negative Information About Trump.

Americans are increasingly hearing negative things about Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Over recent days, 38% of Americans have heard mostly negative information, another third (35%) have heard an equal mix of both positive and negative, while just 26% have heard mostly positive things.

While our previous Navigator tracking has noted that Americans tend to mostly fault Trump for his unpreparedness and lack of early action, we are seeing increasing frustration at his current response.

  • 41% of independents think Trump isn’t doing enough while just 32% say Trump is “getting it about right.”

In the leadup to passage of a stimulus package, Americans across party lines want the federal government to take on a larger role.

In the last three days, support among Republicans for federal intervention has increased 5 points.

Americans are united in their belief that the federal government should take immediate intervention in the economy.

  • Even among independents and Republicans, these calls are strong, with 58% and 59% respectively.

Americans – including a majority of independents – believe Trump’s response favors the wealthy over the middle class.