Poll: Two-Thirds Expect Return To Normal Will Take 6 Months Or More
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
It's been more than two months since large parts of the country began staying at home to avoid the coronavirus, and Americans are getting antsy. Now two-thirds of states are reopening businesses. But a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that most are concerned about a second outbreak, and they don't expect life to return to normal for at least six months. To dive into the findings, NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro is here.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there. Thanks for having me.
KELLY: So this question that I wake up with every morning - when can we get back to normal? - sounds like this is on a lot of other people's minds. What do they say they think will happen?
MONTANARO: Yeah, it sure is. Two-thirds of Americans, though, say that they don't expect their daily lives to get back to a normal routine for at least six months. There's a pretty big partisan divide on this, though. Democrats and independents are far more likely to say that they think it'll take that long or longer. Republicans have a little rosier view and are less likely to think it'll be that long. Maybe it's not surprising, given President Trump urging states to reopen, some even outside his own federal guidelines. And we've seen conservative protests in state Capitols wanting businesses back open.
KELLY: Yeah. Let me circle you back to this fear of a second outbreak. That is something we have heard a lot of state leaders highlight in terms of why they're being cautious about reopening. How worried are the people you talked to about it?
MONTANARO: Well, Americans across party lines are very concerned about the real possibility of a second outbreak, especially considering there's no vaccine yet, no proven treatment. Again, we're seeing pretty big partisan divides. Ninety-three percent - 93% of Democrats say that they're concerned or very concerned about this happening - a second outbreak. But just 57% of Republicans are. The most concerned were Democrats, African Americans, women and Latinos. Less likely to say that they were concerned were Republicans, white men without a college degree, those in the silent or greatest generation and those who live in rural areas. And by the way, those two groups sound a whole lot like the bases of both parties.
KELLY: Meanwhile, we are now inside of six months from the election - the presidential election. What did our poll find in terms of how people are thinking not necessarily about how the coronavirus will affect who they vote for, but the way in which they want to cast their vote?
MONTANARO: Well, you know, vote-by-mail's getting a lot of attention. And you have more people now saying that they want to vote by mail instead of in person. Fifty percent said that they want to vote by mail if their state allows it. Only 38% said that they want to vote in person. Realize that a quarter of voters in 2016 voted by mail, so this is double. Now, again, we have a partisan divide. Majorities of Democrats and independents say they'd prefer to vote by mail if they can. But a majority of Republicans say that they want to vote in person.
We can expect that there will be more states that look into expanding vote-by-mail because of the pandemic. And we've seen some of that today - you know, President Trump going after Michigan and Nevada, places that are looking to expand vote-by-mail. He was attacking them because of absentee ballot applications that went out in Michigan today and, you know, going after Nevada, where they have a Republican secretary of state. And they have primaries coming up that are going to be all-mail. And this is raising a lot of concerns about what could be the legitimacy of the election in November.
KELLY: Indeed. NPR senior editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.
MONTANARO: Thank you.
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