The number of confirmed cases in the United States has grown––and is still growing–– exponentially. When Redfield & Wilton Strategies first polled US respondents on their thoughts of the coronavirus outbreak on the 13th of March, there were less than 3,000 confirmed cases across the entire country. When we polled again 10 days later on the 23rd of March, New York State alone was seeing a daily increase in cases larger than that number, and the total number of confirmed cases in the United States was on track to surpass the reported number in China, where the outbreak first started, by the end of the week.
Opinion on the outbreak and the government’s response to it so far had also changed, though not as dramatically. 5% more Americans thought the United States was not ready to deal with this outbreak and prevent it from becoming serious.
What this will mean for what we call “the economy” remains to be seen until the outbreak has finally subsided. Much of the after-effects are, of course, contingent on the duration and the effectiveness of the stringent measures currently in place. Nevertheless, to get a sense of what the public currently expects, Redfield & Wilton Strategies asked respondents in our weekend poll in Spain, in Italy and in France what they thought about the future of their economies.
And 7% more respondents thought that the US Government’s Response to the outbreak so far had fallen “far short.”
A larger share of respondents also indicated that they would be extremely worried of losing their life in case they contracted the virus themselves.
And a sizable majority, rather than a narrow majority, of respondents now thought the virus was more dangerous than the seasonal flu.
An increasingly larger share of respondents on Monday were also more likely to blame the media for making the public complacent about the threat of the virus, and fewer overall thought that the media was overreacting, compared to where they were only 10 days prior.
These changes in public opinion may seem comparably small compared to the dramatic changes in the number of confirmed cases, in the market, and in the unemployment numbers. Yet, such changes are enough to shift the results of elections. If 27% of past Trump voters, compared to 23% of past Trump voters 10 days prior, indicate that the US Government’s reaction has fallen far short, public opinion must then be moving away from this administration’s response.
In our recent US poll, we found approval for President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis to be somewhat positive, with a plurality of respondents approving of his response.
Unfortunately, we did not ask respondents this question in our previous poll, so we cannot measure any change in approval. It must be noted that 11% of those who voted for Trump in 2016 currently disapprove of his handling of the crisis. When elections are won or lost by the smallest of margins, this group’s disapproval may be significant.
Regardless, this greater level of seriousness towards the virus should mean that people are generally taking more personal measures to combat this virus––whether by staying at home, washing their hands more frequently, keeping a distance from others, and more. As members of the public take it into their own hands to combat the virus, the sooner we may be towards seeing an end to this crisis.
This poll is part of Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ ongoing research into public opinion on the coronavirus outbreak and government’s reaction to the crisis. Further results from our polling in the UK, USA, Italy, France, Spain and Germany is featured here.