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 1,022 registered voters conducted May 5-8, 2020 and a national online survey of 1,014 registered voters conducted May 1-6, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • After weeks of decline, there has been an uptick recently in the share of Americans who say the worst is yet to come.
  • Republicans are divided about wearing masks, and those who are wearing them hold decidedly different attitudes about the nature of the crisis than those who aren’t.
  • The public is concerned that stimulus money is going to big corporations and funds are being withheld from those in need.

“Worst is Yet to Come” Ticking Back Up After Days of Decline

More than half of Americans still believe the worst is yet to come in the coronavirus pandemic and this number has increased 12 points since May 5.

  • 60% of independents say the worst is yet to come, up 26 points since May 5 (from 34%).
  • This decline comes as we find that 86% of Americans say they are “very” or “somewhat” worried that the country will experience a “second wave” of the outbreak once the country starts to reopen.

Republicans Split Over Wearing Masks

More than two in three Americans report wearing a face mask “always” or “most of the time” when they leave home.

  • Democrats (81%) are most likely to wear a mask, while Republicans (53%) are least likely.
  • Despite rhetoric on Fox News regarding masks, there’s no difference in the share of Republicans that watch Fox News frequently versus those who don’t when it comes to wearing masks.

GOP Rift: Mask-Wearing Republicans Far More Worried About the Crisis Than Non-Mask Wearing Counterparts

Republicans who wear a mask “always” or “most of the time” hold attitudes closer to Democrats and independents on the nature of the crisis and worries over sickness than non-mask wearing GOP counterparts.

  • Mask-wearing Republicans are also much more likely to oppose reopening the country soon (54% oppose) than non-mask wearing Republicans (22% oppose).

Most Americans Referring to the Virus as “Coronavirus”

When presented with a list of terms used to describe the virus, the vast majority say they refer to it as “coronavirus.”

  • Democrats are the most likely to use the term “COVID-19,” while only 7% of Republicans say they most commonly describe the virus as the “Chinese virus,” despite Trump’s usage of the term.

Fewer Americans Say Trump’s Response is “Compassionate”

There’s been a net decrease of 8 points in the share of Americans describing Trump’s response as “compassionate.”

  • Groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic are even less likely to say the term applies, including Northeasterners (-36, down from -16), African Americans (-62, down from -51), and Hispanics (-46, down from -16).

Concern Relief Going to Large Corporations & Wealthy

Americans say top concerns about Trump’s economic response to coronavirus are that big corporations are getting stimulus money who don’t need it and that money is being withheld from those who need it the most.