- Americans have been divided over virtually every issue for years, but they’re exhibiting a rare sense of unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Polling has consistently shown a strong, bipartisan majority of Americans support stay-at-home orders and social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, even if it means hurting the economy.
- Protests against coronavirus restrictions have popped up across the US. But polling shows most Americans oppose the demonstrations, even as President Donald Trump has encouraged the protesters.
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By driving Americans apart and forcing them into their homes, the novel coronavirus has accomplished the seemingly impossible task of bringing the country together. In an era of unprecedented political polarization, people across the US are exhibiting remarkable levels of unanimity when it comes to stay-at-home orders and social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past decade or so, Americans have become increasingly divided on virtually every issue under the sun, and there have been few instances of large majorities uniting behind a single cause or topic.
A Pew Research Center survey from October 2019 found that since 2016 “the level of division and animosity — including negative sentiments among partisans toward the members of the opposing party — has only deepened.” And polling has consistently shown sharp divisions among US voters from both major parties on topics ranging from immigration to climate change.
Though the Obama era was hardly characterized by national consensus, the schism between Democrats and Republicans has perhaps never been more pronounced than under President Donald Trump, who became just the third president in US history to be impeached this past December.
But the coronavirus pandemic is breeding rare levels of solidarity among Americans, at least when it comes to social distancing and restrictions on society. In short, the country appears willing to listen to public health experts and do what it takes to defeat this pandemic, even if it means hurting the economy in the process.
Across the board, recent polling shows that most Americans — including majorities of US voters from both major parties — are united in their willingness to stay home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus:
- In a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday, the vast majority of participants (76%) said Americans should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus even if it means continued damage to the economy. Only 14% said Americans should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus.
- The poll also showed strong support for continued social distancing, even if it translates into ongoing damage to the economy, the across party lines: 88% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans.
- 63% of Americans are worried about lifting coronavirus restrictions too fast and exacerbating the outbreak, vastly outnumbering those who are more worried (37%) about lifting restrictions too slowly and worsening the economy, according to a CBS News poll released Thursday.
- The poll also found strong majorities of both Democrats (85%) and Republicans (77%) think stay-at-home orders have been effective in limiting the spread of the virus.
- 86% of Americans said they were trying to stay home as much as possible, the latest HuffPost/YouGov survey found.
- Meanwhile, the poll also found 87% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans said that state stay-at-home orders remain the right decision, while 91% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans said they’re trying to stay at home as much as possible.
- 71% of Americans are more worried about lifting coronavirus restrictions too quickly, as opposed to too slowly (29%), according to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released on Monday.
- The poll also found a majority of Democrats (87) and most Republicans (51%) agree that the US should only reopen once public-health officials are fully able to test and trace new cases and outbreaks.
- A new AP-NORC poll released on Wednesday found about eight-in-10 Americans support measures such as requiring Americans to stay in their homes and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer. And 61% said the restrictions put in place in their area are about right.
- 91% of Democrats said they favor requiring Americans to say in their homes except for essential errands, according to the poll, alongside 70% of Republicans.
- A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday found a bipartisan majority of Americans said people should stay at home “until the doctors and public health officials say it is safe.” This included 88% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans, and roughly 70% of independents.
These polls suggest that the sentiments of Americans protesting against coronavirus restrictions in various cities and regions are not widely shared. Trump and his allies at Fox News have expressed support for the recent anti-social distancing protests, raising the profile of the demonstrations in the process. But a wide set of data suggests these protesters are a fringe group, and the amount of attention they’ve received appears disproportionate to their representation across the US.
A YouGov/Yahoo News survey published on Monday (also cited above) found that 60% of Americans oppose these protests, with only 22% supporting the demonstrations, while 18% said they were unsure. The poll found that nearly half of Republicans (47%) opposed the protests, compared to just 36% who supported them.