Just over two months since the U.S. reported its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on January 21, numerous states around the country have enacted strict “shelter-in-place” measures closing all businesses deemed non-essential to curb the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve.” With a national death toll surpassing 1,000, and economists warning of an impending recession or even depression, on March 25 the White House and Congress agreed upon a $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at helping individuals, small businesses and local governments most impacted by the virus. The deal marks the largest stimulus package in U.S. history.
That same morning, Premise Data surveyed 1,200 contributors across 49 states and Washington D.C. about the contents of the legislation, though the details had yet to be finalized at the time of surveying. Nonetheless, respondents demonstrated overwhelming support for the bill, with over 80% of respondents indicating they were “in favor” or “strongly in favor” of the stimulus package; only 2% came out against the deal.
Though far more of our respondents believe stimulus spending is an appropriate use of U.S. taxpayer dollars than those who disagreed, our survey data indicates that Americans will not be satisfied with any spending perceived to be a blank check to corporations: 66% of respondents agreed with the statement “The U.S. government should maintain a strict level of oversight of funds appropriated for large corporations.” Fewer than 5% disagreed with that statement.
Notably, the bill provides for direct payments of $1,200 to all Americans earning up to $75,000, and an additional $500 per child. This provision comes after weeks of calls for cash assistance from prominent politicians ranging the political spectrum from Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Senator Mitt Romney.
Evident in our survey data was support for such assistance, with 72% supporting direct cash payments to Americans and only 12% in opposition. Of those who supported the payments, the vast majority believed that all Americans should be eligible to receive such benefits: only 12% agreed that “only the most needy Americans” ought to receive payments. Instead, 46% would prefer that all Americans receive the same amount in direct cash payments, and 41% would prefer a progressive scheme in which all Americans receive cash assistance, but lower income individuals receive higher payments.
With the Senate having approved the bill with a nearly unanimous 96-0 vote on Wednesday night, and was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, and will now go to the President to sign. President Trump has promised to immediately sign the bill upon its passage through Congress.
Nevertheless, as several prominent Democrats are calling for additional Congressional spending, our data reflects some of the uncertainty about the bill’s likely impact. 37% of respondents reported not knowing if they are eligible for direct cash assistance; meanwhile, 44% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “this stimulus deal will NOT sufficiently revive the American economy.”
As this bill works its way through Congress, the nation is grappling with simultaneous calls from experts to impose drastic nationwide measures to restrict unnecessary travel and a growing debate about when to “re-open” the economy.
On March 24, President Trump told Fox News, “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter,” which this year falls on April 12. When asked if this statement made respondents more or less likely to support the President, our respondents were split: 33% responded that they would be “more likely” or “far more likely” to support, while only 24% indicated they would be “less likely” or “far less likely” to support the President; indeed, a plurality of 43% remain unmoved in their support for the President.
Where the data is more conclusive is on the topic of a two-week national “shelter in place” that would close all non-essential businesses. 64% of respondents said they would favor President Donald Trump calling for such a shutdown. With only 10% opposing such action, there is reason to believe public health experts, who have been urging severe restrictions on personal travel, have found an ally in the American people.
Follow along as we collect more data on COVID-19 and dive deeper into the available data at www.premise.com/COVID-19. If you’re interested in learning how Premise could help your organization get real-time insight around the globe during this challenging time email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.