Public Opinion on Coronavirus: Navigator Update

Friday, September 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 1,007 registered voters conducted September 10-14, 2020.

Key takeaways

  • Though Americans feel school reopenings are going well so far, most expect schools in their area will have to close at some point due to a coronavirus outbreak.
  • Two in five still plan to vote by mail, and for those who are not voting by mail, the main reason is a preference to vote in- person rather than fear of their vote not getting counted.
  • Many Americans across party lines are struggling to pay bills – but far more Republicans are optimistic about the state of the economy than independents or Democrats.

The School Year Has Begun for Most, But Few Students Are Going Back to the Classroom Every Day

Most say schools in their community have begun their school years, and a plurality say that the schools in their community are partially open while a quarter say their schools are fully remote.

  • Nine in ten (88%) parents say the school year has started with a split between fully remote (31%) and hybrid (35%).

Some Feel School Reopenings Are Going Well But Most Fear They Will Close At Some Point Due to Outbreaks

Almost half say their community’s school reopening is going well. However, almost three in four acknowledge schools in their community will have to close at some point due to an outbreak.

  • Among parents, more than four in five (83%) say schools in their community will have to close at some point due to an outbreak.

School Outbreak Awareness Lower Among Republicans

Three in five say there have been “many” or “some” outbreaks in schools across the country, but perceptions of the frequency of these outbreaks differ greatly by party identification.

  • Three in four (76%) Democrats say there have been “many” or “some” outbreaks, while only 44% of Republicans say the same. Three in ten independents (29%) and Republicans (29%) also say they are not sure.

Though Two in Five Still Plan To Vote By Mail, Intent to Do So Has Declined Since Early August

In the last six weeks, intent to vote by mail has dropped 9 points, with declines across Democrats (down 11 points), independents (down 6 points) and Republicans (down 5 points).

Among Those Not Voting By Mail, Main Reasoning Is Simply Preference to Vote In-Person

Roughly two in five are more concerned about voter suppression – mostly driven by Democrats – while the same share is more concerned about casting their votes illegally, or voter fraud – mostly driven by Republicans.

  • Among those who intend to vote by mail, 56% say they are more concerned about voter suppression, while 58% of those who are voting in-person on Election Day are more concerned about voter fraud

Across Parties, Many Americans Are Struggling to Pay Bills – But Republicans Far More Optimistic on State of Economy

While at least three in ten across party lines say they will have trouble paying bills in the next month, views of the state of the American economy are driven by partisanship.

  • While only one in five Republicans (21%) say the economy is getting worse, nearly half of independents (47%)
    and two in three Democrats (65%) say the economy is getting worse.

Two in Three Support Legalizing Marijuana and Decriminalizing Distribution and Possession

Majorities of Americans support legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing distribution and possession of marijuana, with little difference across policies in levels of support.

  • Though Democrats and independents are driving the share who support both legalization and
    decriminalization, a majority of Republicans also support both.

Nancy Pelosi Is More Popular Than Mitch McConnell

Two in five Americans have a favorable view of Pelosi while less than three in ten say the same of McConnell. Fewer Republicans have favorable views of Mitch McConnell than Democrats have of Nancy Pelosi.

  • Among independents, while 25% are not sure of their view of Pelosi, 40% are not sure of their view of McConnell.