Economic Outlook Varies Across Party Lines

The June 2020 AP-NORC Poll finds some improvement in the public’s economic outlook, driven largely by Republicans who are significantly more optimistic than Democrats.

The public’s outlook on the U.S. economy declined dramatically in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. But as the economy begins to reopen, assessments are starting to improve.  The increasing optimism is coming mainly from Republicans who are more likely than Democrats to say both the national economy and their own financial situation are in good shape. In addition, fears of contracting COVID-19 and support for restrictions in response to the pandemic have decreased. 

Thirty-six percent of Americans describe the national economy as good, up from 29% in May, though still down from 67% in January. Only 43% expect the country’s economy to improve over the next year.

The increase is coming largely from Republicans. Sixty-five percent of Republicans now say the nation’s economy is good compared to 43% in May, while the views of Democrats and independents are essentially unchanged from May.

Republicans continue to be significantly more likely to say the national economy will get better in the next year than Democrats and independents (66% vs. 29% and 29%).

While the public’s view of the economy dropped considerably after the coronavirus outbreak, Americans’ evaluations of their own financial situation have remained steady.  Sixty-six percent of Americans have a favorable view of their household finances compared with 69% in January.

These assessments remain steady even though 48% report facing some form of income loss because of the outbreak such as a layoff, reduction in salary, or hours worked.

Only 53% of these Americans have a positive view of their finances, compared with 78% of those who have not faced these challenges.

Partisan differences persist even among those who have faced economic hardship. Seventy-six percent Republicans who experienced a COVID-19 related loss of income say they have a good financial situation compared with 44% of Democrats.

Few anticipate a downturn in their own finances over the next year, while 46% think things will stay the same, and 38% expect their financial situation to improve. Republicans are more likely to think their own finances will get at least somewhat better than Democrats (46% vs. 32%).

Among those who have been laid off, 55% now believe they will be able to go back to the same job once the outbreak is over compared to 78% who said the same in April.

Overall, concerns about contracting COVID-19 continue to decline. Now, 32% of Americans say they are worried that they or someone from their family will be infected with the coronavirus down from 50% in March and 42% in May. The decline is persistent across party lines, yet Democrats are still significantly more likely to worry about getting infected than Republicans.

While many Americans still back many restrictions that were introduced in response to COVID-19, there has been a significant drop in support since March. 

Democrats are almost twice as likely as Republicans to support requiring Americans to stay at home (66% vs. 30%), limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer (77% vs. 39%), and banning travel within the country (64% vs. 38%).

The nationwide poll was conducted June 11-15, 2020 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,310 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.7 percentage points.