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This memo summarizes highlights of the findings from the national survey you commissioned of 1,000 Registered Voters. RMG Research, Inc. provided the field services for the online survey which was conducted April 24-26, 2020.
• The data confirms your sense that voters strongly believe the lockdowns were necessary for a period of time. By a 72% to 14% margin, voters believe the aggressive government actions prevented the spread of the coronavirus and saved lives.
- Sixty-nine percent (69%) believe the lockdowns were appropriate throughout the country, not just in large cities with severe outbreaks. Only 25% disagree.
• However, the nation is evenly divided about what to do now. While 51% think it’s appropriate to continue the lockdowns, 47% think it’s time to either ease the restrictions (36%) or end the lockdowns entirely (11%).
- Most urban voters (58%) want to continue the lockdowns while most rural voters (55%) think it’s time to ease restrictions or end the lockdowns. Suburban voters, reflecting the national average, are evenly divided.
• Voters clearly recognize that there are health risks associated with continued lockdowns. Seventy-three percent (73%) say it’s important for their own mental wellbeing to be able to see people face-to-face again. Sixty-one percent (61%) are concerned with the health risks with prolonged isolation.
- Some of this awareness is based upon firsthand experience. Thirty-three percent (33%) have close friends or family members who have been severely depressed during the lockdown.
- Twenty-three percent (23%) know of people close to them who have been drinking too much during the lockdown.
- Thirty-five percent (35%) have personally put on weight or experienced health related problems associated with the stay-at-home orders.
• While voters currently are divided over whether to continue lockdowns or ease the restrictions, there is a belief that the health risks of isolation will soon outweigh the risks of re-opening society.
- On a purely public health basis—without factoring in economic concerns--36% already believe that continuing the lockdowns is riskier than easing restrictions and beginning to re-open society. Another 18% believe that will be the case if lockdowns continue for 60 more days.
- While a combined 54% believe that 60 more days of lockdowns will be riskier than easing lockdown restrictions, just 21% believe that easing restrictions will be riskier after another couple of months. The remainder aren’t sure.
• It’s important to note that voters are likely to have different priorities about which restrictions should be eased and when.
- To address concerns about alcohol abuse, just 30% agree with the World Health Organization’s recommendation to restrict access to alcohol. Forty-eight percent (48%) believe a better solution would be to ease the stress by relaxing some of the more extreme lockdown orders.
- However, to address the economic problems, just 39% favor easing the lockdowns so that people can return to their jobs. Forty-nine percent (49%) think it’s better for now to have the government provide ongoing financial support.
• There are, of course, a number of anticipated demographic divides. Democrats and urban voters are consistently more supportive of continuing lockdowns than other segments of the population.
• However, the most significant divide revolves around an awareness of the facts. Not surprisingly, 76% of voters are aware that recent data has shown that far more people have been infected with the coronavirus than previously thought.
• At the same time, just 44% are aware that the latest data shows that people who get the coronavirus are less likely to die than previously thought.
- Those who are aware of the new data showing that people infected with the coronavirus are less likely to die favor easing lockdown restrictions by a 66% to 33% margin.
- Those who mistakenly believe the fatality rate has not fallen favor continuing the lockdowns by a 71% to 28% margin.
• There are many possible explanations for the lack of awareness concerning the encouraging news about the lower fatality rate.
- First, while the fatality rate is significantly lower than previously thought, it is still a deadly virus. Many public health officials and news reports have emphasized that fact while reporting new findings.
- Second, research has shown that voters often incorporate bad news into their assessment right away while it takes longer to absorb and accept good news. When the good news is reported, voters want to see it confirmed before getting their hopes up.
- Third, the numbers are coming from all different sources and are confusing in the best of circumstances. For many voters, it’s better to prepare for the worst by believing the bad news and hope for the best by waiting to see on the good news.
- Fourth, the partisan nature of news coverage is evident in the findings. While 62% of Republicans are aware that those infected are less likely to die than previously thought, just 31% of Democrats know that to be true.