What we are seeing out there on COVID-19


Friends and clients:

Last week we advised you we were moving forward and that was certainly true as we completed multiple studies around the country.

Here’s what we are finding:

1)  People want to talk!  Our incidence and cooperation rates were higher last week.  We also extended our interviewing hours earlier in the day to cellphone respondents and received a strong response.

2) Of course people want to talk about COVID-19 and the impact on their life.  Don’t worry if that’s not the topic of your questionnaire.   Working with our phone centers we have embedded one to three questions about the virus into every questionnaire to help engage the respondent and let them have a chance to express an opinion on this topic.

3) Our surveys continue to be stable — both in terms of sample composition and in attitudes (other than about COVID-19).

We would repeat what we said last week that this continues to be a productive time to continue to conduct polling.

But do not underestimate the difference a week plus meant in terms of peoples’ response to the virus.

We had the benefit of having done a national survey for NBCWSJ on March 11th-13th.  While capturing a sharp increase in awareness of the coronavirus (moving from 60% having seen a lot the previous week to 89% during this time period, an all-time high for any issue we have tracked over the last 13 years), it turned out to be the last moment before widespread school and other closures hit.

This past week showed remarkably different data.   While we cannot directly compare a national track to the data around the country last week, we had so many different surveys, these broad trends are clearly true:

1) COVID-19 has now significantly impacted day-to-day lives.  On the NBCWSJ survey on March 11-13, only roughly one in four said the coronavirus was having a significant or major impact on their daily life. The most dramatic finding last week was this number shot up to the high 50s to lower 60% range saying significant or major impact.

2) The percent saying there were worried they or a family member would get the virus has climbed from 50% to roughly ten points higher.

3)  The NBC/WSJ data showed a dead-even split worrying about whether the United States would go too far or not far enough restricted peoples’ movement and activity.  Last week, this broke open so by a roughly twenty point margin, people said they were concerned we would not go far enough.   Last week, public opinion tipped to favoring more restrictions and shut downs.

There is a lot to learn about how this dramatic period is going to impact and reshape attitudes.  We look forward to working with you closely to help figure this out on your behalf.


Public Opinion Strategies