Apr 28, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, Week 7: Americans fear economic collapse

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Nearly nine in 10 Americans now worry about the U.S. economy collapsing, a view that transcends party lines, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

While three-fourths also fear their communities reopening too soon, there's a massive gulf between how Democrats and Republicans view the threat.

The big picture: Week 7 of our national survey shows individuals recalibrating risk and pacing themselves for an open-ended slog, as 12% report knowing someone who died from the virus — and one in four knows someone who's tested positive.

  • More than half of those who have received stimulus money say they've put some or all into savings, or plan to spend it but haven't yet.
  • People are gingerly testing reconnecting in person with some family and friends even as they hold to the broader notion of social distancing.
  • Race, income and geography continue to shape how people are impacted and react.

What they're saying: "When you force one question over the other, health is still more important, over the economy," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "But that’s going to start changing."

  • "As economic woes stick around and health challenges subside a bit, the economy’s going to become front and center."
  • "There’s going to be increasing pressure to open up. But there is less tolerance for easing among Democrats."

By the numbers: The survey shows an especially grim way Democrats have been affected by the pandemic: They're twice as likely (15%) as Republicans (8%) to know someone who died.

  • African Americans (28%) are three times as likely as white people (9%) and twice as likely as Hispanics (13%) to know someone who has died.
  • People who live in the Northeast (25%) are more than three times as likely as those in the West (7%) or Midwest (8%) and twice as likely as those in the South (12%) to know someone who died.

Between the lines: Partisanship is the biggest driver of concerns about communities reopening prematurely.

  • 88% of Democrats say they're extremely, very or somewhat concerned, compared with 56% of Republicans and 74% overall.
  • 88% of Hispanics and 85% of African Americans — clear majorities of whom identify as Democrats — are concerned, compared with 67% of white respondents.

Be smart: New findings on stimulus spending highlight the challenge of injecting these funds into the economy.

  • 38% said they had put it into savings and 18% planned to spend it but haven't yet. Another 26% put it toward paying debt.
  • African Americans were more likely to pay down debt, while Hispanics were more likely to spend it on food and rent.

When it comes to social distancing, 92% still said they're doing it — same as the week before — but they're testing modifications.

  • 24% said they visited a friend or relative in the last week, the highest percentage in five weeks.
  • That doesn't apply to elderly relatives; nine in 10 still say that's on hold.
  • Two-thirds are still maintaining a distance of six feet from others.
  • And mask use is at a new high: 69%.

A sense of desperation or loss of control seems to gradually be improving after bottoming out in Week 4 of our survey, in the first week of April.

  • In the latest survey, 34% report a declined state of emotional well being, compared with 41% three weeks before.
  • 33% said their ability to do their job had gotten worse, compared with 47%.
  • Slightly fewer people said they were less able to take care of their households: 15% in the latest survey, down from 20%.
  • 44% now say they're concerned with job security, improved from 56%.
  • 46% are worried about paying their bills, improved from 51%.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 24–27 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,021 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

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