Despite the damaging economic toll of the coronavirus, the country remains apprehensive about a return to normal, with Republicans far more likely to be willing than Democrats to restart day-to-day activities immediately, as states begin to loosen restrictions, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.
A minority of Americans said that if the emergency orders put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus were lifted the next day, they would be likely to go out in public to eat at a restaurant (44%), go to a bar (21%), attend a sporting event in a large stadium (20%), go to a gym or health club (29%), stay in a hotel (30%), go to a movie theatre (24%), attend church (46%), go bowling (22%), fly on an airplane (29%), or send their child to school (45%).
On the other hand, the only two activities that a majority of Americans were likely to resume if restrictions were relaxed instantly are returning to work (77%) and getting a haircut (51%).
The less than half of Americans who are likely to allow their child to return to school, even under lax restrictions, comes as President Donald Trump encouraged governors on a phone call this week to “seriously consider” reopening schools. The remark was met by swift backlash from one of the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers, who issued their own guidance for reopening schools on Wednesday.
The new poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, coincides with a contentious national debate over when to reopen the economy, with several states, including Georgia and Texas, slowly lifting stay-at-home orders, even as the country reached a grim milestone this week – passing one million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 60,000 deaths.
Other states are expected to follow suit with Georgia and Texas in the coming weeks, although some are still seeing a rise in the number of confirmed cases, which is at odds with the Trump administration’s recommended guidelines for reopening the country, that include states achieving at least two weeks of a downward trajectory in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. The federal guidelines encouraging social distancing also just expired.
This week, another nearly 4 million Americans filed unemployment claims, driving up the total over the last six weeks to 30 million. The record-shattering influx of unemployment claims is worse than the Great Recession – underscoring the urgency from the White House to reopen the country for business.
In a pre-pandemic world, among the activities Americans said were typically part of their routine, going to restaurants (96%), sending a child to school (89%), getting a haircut at a barber or hair salon (83%), going to work (76%) and attending sporting events (67%) rank among the highest.
The new survey finds a drastic split by political ideology on returning to normal activities. For each of the listed activities, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they would resume their regular routine.
In a striking partisan pattern, Republicans are roughly twice as likely as Democrats to eat at a restaurant (64%-26%), go to a bar (36%-17%), work out at a gym (46%-21%), and get a haircut (74%-40%).
Some of the activities draw even starker divisions, with Republicans three times as likely to attend a sporting event (35%-10%) or church (73%-20%), and more than four times as likely to stay in a hotel (55%-12%).
The only activity with significant support between both Democrats and Republicans is going to work, with 76% for the former and 88% for the latter.
The new poll continues to show national unease about the outbreak, with just over eight in 10 Americans concerned about contracting the coronavirus, a number that continues to hold steady in polling the last few weeks.
Over seven weeks of polling, Democrats are still more anxious than Republicans about becoming infected, with 96% of Democrats saying they are concerned, compared to 66% of Republicans.
Since the first ABC News/Ipsos poll on the coronavirus, which was released on March 13 as the crisis only began to take hold of the nation, Trump’s approval for his managing of the outbreak has remained stable, except for the poll conducted March 18-19 when his approval increased to 55%.
For five of the six weeks in which attitudes about Trump’s oversight over the coronavirus have been polled, the president has found himself underwater. This week, his disapproval rating among Americans reached a numeric high of 57%, with only 42% approving.
Approval of the commander-in-chief’s leadership on the crisis continues to be a fault line for ideologues, with 84% of Republicans giving Trump high marks, compared to 86% two weeks ago. Only 10% of Democrats approve of the president’s handling of the coronavirus, compared to 7% in mid-April. Independents fall in between, with 39% approval.
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This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® April 29-30, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 518 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.9 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.
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