Jun 23, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Catching up when the virus comes

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey, case data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Ipsos/Axios survey, case data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

People in mostly red states where coronavirus cases have been rising the fastest are developing a heightened sense of risk and taking steps to dial back their exposure, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: A much lower-than-expected turnout last weekend for President Trump's rally in Tulsa is consistent with the broader trend we're seeing in Week 14 of our national poll.

What they're saying: "In the places with the highest rates of increase, people are adjusting their behavior," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "The more proximate it is, the greater the likelihood they adjust their behavior."

  • Young said researchers have been watching the trends to better understand how much of the behavior is driven by partisanship versus geography and proximity to the illness.
  • From Axios focus groups we know that many people are paying closer attention to local news and guidelines than the national picture.
  • "I think a lot of what's been going on is less a political thing — although people really take their cues from politicians — than, basically, many of the less affected places are more red, and now that they are more affected people are indeed adjusting."

Between the lines: One measure — whether people feel safe to get a hair cut at a salon — could be a new barometer for how safe the public feels.

In the states where new cases climbed by 50% or more last week, populations that had been leaning into visits with friends or getting their hair cut are now pulling back compared with Americans in states that were hit harder earlier on.

  • In states with the highest rates of increase, the share of people visiting with friends dropped from 52% to 44% (-8) over the last two weeks.
  • Meanwhile, those visiting with friends actually rose to 46% (+6) in states with more modest infection rate increases, as well as 51% (+5) in states where infection rates are decreasing.

In states with the biggest jumps in new coronavirus cases, people pulled back on visits to hair salons and barbershops, dropping from 19% to 13% (-6) in the last two weeks.

  • In the states with modest infection growth, the salon rate stayed flat, at 18%. And those getting their hair done climbed from 10% to 19% (+9) in the states where the new coronavirus case rate is decreasing.
  • Those in the states with the highest infection growth didn't curb all of their re-engagement. Going out to eat increased slightly. And those saying they are socially distancing fell slightly, though that term means different things to different people and is sometimes confused with self-quarantining.

The states with the highest percentage jumps in cases last week (June 9-16) included Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

  • Ipsos compared the behaviors of survey respondents living in those states with respondents who live in more than a dozen states, including California, Georgia and Texas, where the case rates also rose last week but at smaller rates.
  • And they examined the behaviors of respondents from states including New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where rates of new cases have been declining.

The big picture: These patterns are playing out comes as Americans across the nation brace for a resurgence in infections.

  • 85% worry about a second wave.
  • 70% now say going back to their "normal" pre-coronavirus life would be a large to moderate risk, up from 64% a week earlier and 57% two weeks ago.
  • 71% worry their community will reopen too soon, also the highest share in a month.

Between the lines: Americans are looking to institutions they trust for cues about how to behave. About eight in 10 said they would stay home and avoid others if either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or their governor told them to, or if local cases spiked, hospitals reported being full or people they knew tested positive.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted June 19-22 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,023 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
Go deeper