The Slatest

Poll: Majority Fear U.S. Coronavirus Restrictions Will Be Lifted Too Quickly

Several protesters on the street, one of them a child holding a sign that says "Natural Immunity = Best Immunity"
Demonstrators protest stay-at-home orders in San Diego on Saturday. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

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Even though the small protests calling on governors across the country to reopen economies have been getting a lot of coverage over the weekend, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests the view of demonstrators is far from the norm. The poll, which was released Sunday, shows 58 percent of registered voters are most concerned the country could move too quickly on lifting the restrictions that were put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus. In contrast, 32 percent said they were worried about the economic impact of waiting too long to get things moving again. The split along partisan lines is pretty stark, with 77 percent of Democrats and only 39 percent of Republicans saying they were concerned about reopening too quickly. Only 19 percent of Democrats said they were more worried about the economic impact, compared with 48 percent of Republicans.

As time has gone on, it seems clear Americans are taking the coronavirus much more seriously and they are afraid for themselves and their families. Almost three-quarters of Americans said they were very or somewhat worried about themselves or a family member catching the virus, marking a 20-point jump from last month. Many have also been much more touched by the virus in recent weeks, as 40 percent said they personally knew someone who has been infected, compared with 27 percent last month.

Even though Americans said their lives had been upended by the coronavirus, COVID-19 seems to have done little to shift their political views. President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are pretty much steady from last month, with 46 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving of the job he is doing as commander in chief. In a head-to-head matchup with former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee comes out ahead, 49 percent to 42 percent, which is also largely in line with last month. Other polls, however, have not shown such a steady picture. A recent Gallup poll showed Trump suffering a 6-point dip in approval ratings since March to 43 percent. That decline was the sharpest drop for the Trump presidency so far, but his approval rating is still higher than his average of 40 percent since taking office.

Despite the pretty steady approval ratings for the president, though, a majority of Americans don’t trust Trump when it comes to COVID-19 information. A mere 36 percent of registered voters said they trust what the president has to say about the coronavirus, compared with 52 percent who do not. As a point of comparison, 66 percent say they trust their governors and 60 percent say they trust Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (little wonder, then, he has built up a dedicated fan base). When it comes to Biden, registered voters don’t really seem to know what to think. While 26 percent say they trust the former vice president on the coronavirus, 29 percent say they don’t trust him, and a whopping 42 percent say they are not aware of what he has said on the issue or have no opinion. The numbers may at least partly reflect the way Biden has largely faded into the background amid the coronavirus crisis while Trump is constantly in the news.