Jul 7, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: There is no new normal

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The longer the coronavirus pandemic lasts, the farther we're moving apart, according to our analysis of nearly four months of data from the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Ever since life in the U.S. as we knew it came to a screeching halt, we've been trying to get our heads around what a "new normal" will look like. But so far, the politicization of the virus — and our socioeconomic differences — are working against any notion of national unity in impact or response.

The big picture: Partisanship is the main driver of behavior when it comes to concern about the virus, or use of face masks to contain the spread.

  • Race and ethnicity are major predictors both of employment status and whether you know someone who's tested positive for — or died from — the virus.
  • Younger, working-class, Republican men take the pandemic the least seriously, the data shows.

What they're saying: "We know that America has failed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, and we can't get past partisanship," says pollster Chris Jackson, senior vice president for Ipsos Public Affairs.

  • "Looking forward the real question is going to be, does having first-hand experience get people past the partisanship?"

By the numbers: Since March, the overall share of Americans feeling extremely or very concerned about coronavirus climbed, peaked, fell, rose again and settled at 58%. But "overall" belies very different tracks.

  • Democrats who were extremely or very concerned grew from 72% to a peak of 81%, settling in at 77%.
  • Republicans never shared that intensity, and the share of those extremely or very concerned has only declined: from 49% in March, and a 54% peak in April, to 36% by the end of last month.
  • Independents are in between the two parties.
  • Women and 65+ Americans take the threat more seriously than men and younger people.

Employment trends continue to depend heavily on race and ethnicity — but one area where the gap may be narrowing is among those with the ability to work from home.

  • In late March, 14% of white Americans, 22% of Black Americans and 26% of Hispanic Americans were laid off or furloughed because of the virus. By June, only 8% of whites were out of work because of the virus, compared to 15% of Blacks and 12% of Hispanics.
  • By June, 16% of Black survey respondents, 18% of Hispanics and 21% of whites were able to work from home.

Black Americans are being hardest hit by sickness or death from the virus.

  • 46% of Black Americans, 35% of whites and 36% of Hispanics know someone who's tested positive.
  • 28% of Black Americans, 11% of whites and 17% of Hispanics know someone who died from it.

Be smart: Jackson saw a jarring pattern that's become clearer over time: the people least likely to wear masks also are the most likely to be interacting with others.

  • In late June, 47% of our overall sample said they wear a mask sometimes, occasionally or never when outside the home, while 53% said they always were masks outside the home.
  • Those who wear masks less often were about half as likely as the others to see it as risky to return to their pre-COVID-19 life. They were twice as likely to go out to eat.
  • Just 38% of the lax mask wearers practiced social distancing, compared with 62% of those who always wear masks.
  • Six in 10 of the less frequent mask-wearers were visiting family and friends outside their homes, compared with four in 10 who always wear masks.

Methodology: This analysis is from 15 waves of Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index survey data conducted between March 13 and June 29, 2020 by Ipsos using our KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 15,871 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The data was divided into six phases of the pandemic based on consistent patterns of behavior in each phase. The phases include nationally representative probability samples of between 1,092 and 4,022 general population adults age 18 or older.
  • The margin of sampling error for those phases ranged from ±2 percentage points to -±3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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