Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Wednesday, August 26, 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 1,002 registered voters conducted August 21 – 24, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • A vast majority hold favorable opinions of the USPS, and many rely on the service for a range of delivery needs.
  • Americans support public funding of the USPS but prioritize delivery of prescriptions, paychecks, and Social Security checks over mail voting security.
  • The public believes Trump opposes funding the USPS because he thinks it will help him with re-election and do not trust him to leave it free from interference until Election Day.

Trump’s Attacks on the USPS and His Handling of Coronavirus Dominate Negative Conversation on Him

The vast majority (77%) continue to hear some negative things about President Trump this week, with a strong focus on the United States Postal Service, voting by mail, and the coronavirus pandemic at large.

Nearly Four in Five are Favorable Towards the USPS

The vast majority hold favorable views of the United States Postal Service, including three quarters of both independents and Republicans.

  • Though the USPS remains very popular, favorability of the organization has declined in the last three months – driven in part by Republicans, among whom favorability has dropped 14 points (from 86% to 72%).

Americans Rely Most on USPS for Bills, Letters, Things Needed for Home, and Prescription Drugs

The vast majority report relying on the USPS to deliver bills, letters to friends and family, things needed in the home, or prescription drugs, with nearly nine in ten saying they rely on the USPS for at least something.

  • Older Americans see even higher rates of reliance on the mail: among Americans 65+, 45% rely on the USPS to deliver prescription drugs to their home.

One in Three Already Experiencing More Unreliable or Delayed Mail

Amid recent changes to the USPS, most say they have noticed no change in mail delivery in their neighborhood – however, one in three say that they have noticed recent service has been more unreliable and delayed than usual.

  • Suburban (37%) and urban (32%) Americans are more likely to say their mail delivery has been more unreliable/delayed than their rural (27%) counterparts.

Vast Majority Support Public Funding of USPS

Three in four support the government fully funding the USPS, and three in five say it should remain publicly funded.

  • Support for funding the USPS transcends party and vote choice: among 2016 Trump voters*, 60% support the federal government continuing to fully fund the USPS.

Public Supports Fully Funding USPS

Three in five agree with a statement supporting fully funding the USPS when paired with messaging that it provides a service that everyone relies on – including paychecks, Social Security, prescription drugs, and voting.

Public Hearing a Lot on USPS Debate, Says It Isn’t Resolved

Three in four say they are hearing “a lot” or “some” about the possibility of not funding the USPS, and nearly the same share say that the debate is ongoing and unresolved.

Top Concerns About USPS Cuts: Prescription and Social Security Delivery, Votes Not Being Counted

Among the most serious concerns regarding potential budget cuts affecting the USPS are the delivery of prescriptions to Americans, including veterans, and of Social Security to older Americans, as well as vote by mail.

Concern About USPS Cuts Affecting Everyday Needs Outweighs Concerns About Vote By Mail

A majority are more concerned that cuts to the Postal Service will prevent millions of Americans from getting their every day needs than putting the integrity of the election at risk.

  • Even among those who intend to vote by mail, 55% are more concerned that cuts will threaten the every day needs of Americans, while 39% are more concerned that cuts will threaten the election’s integrity.

Majority Believe Trump Opposes Funding the USPS Because of Re-Election, Don’t Trust Him to Leave it Free From Changes

Nearly three in five say they think it is true Trump is opposing funding the USPS to help with his re-election, and a majority do not trust the president to leave the USPS free from interference until after Election Day.

  • More than one in five 2016 Trump voters* (22%) believe it is true that Trump is opposing funding the USPS to help him win the election.

Majority Feel Trump Wants to Cut USPS Funding to Prevent Americans from Voting Him Out of Office

More than half say that Trump is trying to cut funding from the USPS because he wants to limit the number of Americans who vote – and less than a third say it’s a result of his concern about voter fraud.

Intent to Vote By Mail Has Dropped

As the USPS funding debate continues, intent to vote by mail has dropped 5 points in three weeks.

  • The shift is concentrated among Democrats and independents: since August 3, there has been an 8-point decline in the share of Democrats and a 5-point decline in the share of independents who plan to vote by mail.

Americans Voting By Mail Plan to Return Their Ballot Immediately, Using a Wide Range of Methods

Though a majority say they will not vote by mail or will not vote at all, among the 42% who plan to vote by mail, the majority plan to return their ballot right away and have a range of plans for mailing back their ballot.

  • More than two in five Democrats plan to vote by mail and to return their ballot immediately.

Americans Have Favorable Impression of the DNC and Biden’s Performance Specifically

More than half of Americans hold positive views of Joe Biden’s Thursday night speech and the entire Democratic National Convention – including a fifth of Republicans.

  • Among 2016 Trump voters*, 21% have a favorable view of Biden’s speech and 20% of the entire DNC.

Biden Experiencing Post-Convention Bump in Popularity

More than half of Americans now hold favorable views of Joe Biden, up a net 10 points since two weeks ago.

  • Independents are driving this growth in popularity, with favorability growing 14 points in two weeks.
  • Among Democrats, “very favorable” ratings of Joe Biden increased by 9 points since two weeks ago (from 44% to 53%).