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In U.S., More Optimism About Pandemic, Less About Duration
Politics

In U.S., More Optimism About Pandemic, Less About Duration

In U.S., More Optimism About Pandemic, Less About Duration

Story Highlights

  • 42% say coronavirus situation is getting better; 36% say it's getting worse
  • 79% of Republicans say getting better; 54% of Democrats say getting worse
  • 54% in U.S. expect coronavirus disruption to last at least the rest of this year

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' impressions of the coronavirus situation in the U.S., which have waxed and waned over the past seven weeks, are currently on a more positive trajectory as all states have now begun to ease some restrictions aimed at reopening their economies. More U.S. adults now say the situation is getting better (42%) than say it is getting worse (36%), while 21% say it is staying about the same.

Graph 1

Line graph. Americans' impression of the coronavirus situation are improving as 42% now say it is getting better, 36% say it is getting worse, and 21% say it is staying the same. Views of the pandemic have fluctuated, and the latest data are close to readings recorded between April 20 and May 3.

These findings, from an online, probability-based Gallup Panel survey conducted May 18-24, mark an improvement in the public's outlook compared with the previous two weeks, even as the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. was approaching. It is unclear why Americans grew more negative about the course of the coronavirus situation between May 4 and 17, when the percentage saying it was getting worse was six percentage points higher than now.

Views of the pandemic have fluctuated, and the latest data are closer to readings recorded between April 20 and May 3 as the curve in the U.S. was starting to flatten and governors began working toward reopening their states' economies.

One constant in Americans' overall opinions of the pandemic in the U.S. has been a sharp divide in partisan views. Both Republicans' and Democrats' assessments of the situation have improved, but majorities of Democrats, ranging from 75% in early April to 54% now, have consistently said it is getting worse. Conversely, majorities of Republicans -- from 53% to the latest 79% -- have consistently said the situation in the U.S. is getting better.

Graph 2

Three line graphs. Democrats', Republicans' and independents' impressions of whether the coronavirus pandemic is getting better or getting worse. Majorities of Democrats, ranging from 75% in early April to 54% now, have consistently said it is growing worse. From 53% to the latest 79% of Republicans have said the situation in the U.S. is getting better. Independents are closer to Democrats with 41% saying it is getting worse and 33% getting better.

For their part, political independents are closer to Democrats in their views of where the U.S. stands in the coronavirus situation, with a plurality currently saying it is getting worse.

Majority of Americans Now Expect Extended Coronavirus Disruption

Although social distancing guidelines have been relaxed in many places across the U.S., 54% of Americans now say they expect the level of disruption to travel, school, work and public events to continue through the end of this year (31%) or longer (23%). Earlier in the crisis, a majority anticipated it would last a few more months -- but currently 30% say so, and 17% (down from 37%) think it will only be a few more weeks.

Graph 3

Line graph. Length of time Americans expect the disruption to travel, school, work and public events in the U.S. will continue. Fifty-four percent say it will be the rest of this year or longer, 30% think it will be a few more months and 17% a few more weeks. In two months' time, there has been a 41-point jump in the percentage of Americans who say the disruption will last through at least the rest of the year.

Again, partisans diverge sharply in their views, as 72% of Republicans think the disruption will end within the next few months and nearly as many Democrats (69%) say it will continue through the end of this year or longer.

Partisans' Expectations of Duration of Coronavirus Disruption Differ
How long do you think the level of disruption occurring to travel, school, work and public events in the U.S. will continue before it starts to improve?
A few more weeks A few more months Rest of the year/Longer
% % %
Republicans 35 37 28
Independents 16 27 57
Democrats 5 26 69
GALLUP PANEL, MAY 18-24, 2020

Democrats have consistently been more likely than Republicans and independents to say the level of COVID-19 disruption will last through at least the end of this year. Currently, 69% of Democrats say as much (a 47-point increase in two months), while 28% of Republicans and 57% of independents agree.

Graph 4

Line graph. Partisans' views of how long the coronavirus disruption will last. 69% of Democrats, 57% of independents and 28% of Republicans think it will last through the rest of the year or longer. Since mid-March, Democrats have increased 47 points, independents rose 39 points and Republicans are up 18 points.

Bottom Line

As growing numbers have begun to resume some of their normal activities, a plurality of Americans are now optimistic about the state of the pandemic in the U.S. Yet, this measure has proven to vary somewhat -- and as the public proceeds with caution in getting back to their normal daily lives, their views appear to be influenced more by their party identification than their personal experiences.

The public's expectations for the length of the interruption caused by the coronavirus situation have slowly evolved over the course of the crisis, and a majority now think it will continue for at least the rest of this year. Republicans have a rosier view of the length of time it will take, with most saying it will be within weeks or months, but Democrats are less optimistic.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/312014/optimism-pandemic-less-duration.aspx
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