Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

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 1,608 registered voters conducted June 4-8, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Americans overwhelmingly believe the country is in crisis, pointing to both the ongoing pandemic and the protests following George Floyd’s death.
  • While Democrats are most worried about police violence and others not observing precautions like social distancing, Republicans are more worried about rioting and looting.
  • The public remains cautious in their approach to reopening, while a plurality say their state is getting it about right.

Vast Majority Say Country is in “State of Crisis”

Nearly nine in ten Americans believe that the country is in crisis generally.

  • While Democrats are most likely to believe the country is in crisis (96%), the sentiment is shared by four in five Republicans (79%).

More than Nine in Ten Believe Pandemic & Protests are Major Crises or Problems

While a vast majority of Americans across party lines say that both the pandemic and recent protests are major crises or problems, Democrats are more likely to say each is a “major crisis” than independents or Republicans.

  • African Americans are more likely to describe each as a “major crisis.” On the pandemic specifically, 80% say that it is a major crisis, compared to 68% of Hispanics and 62% of whites.

Democrats More Worried About Social Distancing, Police Violence; GOP Most Worried About Rioting and Looting

Across party lines, Americans are worried about nursing home vulnerability to coronavirus. Democrats are more worried about others not social distancing and police violence while Republicans are most worried about rioting and looting.

  • Worries about “police violence against people across the country” are highly partisan: while 88% of Democrats are worried about this issue, only 71% of independents and 40% of Republicans say the same.

Majorities Trust State and Local Government More Than Trump to Handle Protests as Well as Coronavirus

More than half of Americans trust their state and local government more than Trump to handle the pandemic response and the response to the protests that have followed the death of George Floyd.

  • Even among Republicans, nearly a third trust their state and local government more to handle the pandemic (32%) and the recent protests (29%).

More Than a Third Now Know Someone Who Has Been Infected with Coronavirus

36% of Americans now know someone who has been infected with coronavirus, four times the percentage who knew someone infected on our first day of tracking on March 23.

  • Among Democrats, 38% know someone who has been infected, while 34% of Republicans and 32% of independents say the same. Nearly two in five (39%) African Americans also know someone.
  • 48% of Northeasterners report knowing someone who has been infected, while only 28% of Westerners do.

Declining Belief the “Worst is Yet to Come” in the Pandemic

While still a plurality believe that the worst is yet to come, the share who believe this has declined by 36 points since our April 6 tracking release.

  • Democrats (61% worst is yet to come), African Americans (59%), and Hispanics (53%) are driving the share of Americans who say the worst is yet to come in the pandemic.

Public Remains Pro-Mask and Cautious About Reopening

More than two in three Americans say they are pro-mask and more than three in five say they are more on the side of being cautious about reopening than pushing to reopen.

  • Nearly four in five African Americans (79%) and Hispanics (79%) say they are pro-mask, while only 65% of whites say the same.

Majority Still Concerned Social Distancing Will End Too Soon

While there has been a downtick in concern that social distancing will end too soon and prolong the pandemic, a majority continue to find it more concerning than social distancing going too long and hurting the economy.

  • Among independents, 53% remain more concerned that social distancing will end too soon and prolong the pandemic, while only 34% are more concerned it will go on too long.

Plurality Feel Home State Getting Reopening About Right

Two in five say their state is moving about right on reopening; a third still think their state is moving too quickly.

  • Republicans are driving the share of Americans who think their state is not moving quickly enough to reopen: among very conservative Republicans, 39% think that their state is not reopening quickly enough.