Large majorities of Americans back coronavirus restrictions, slower return to normal: POLL

Anxiety over the coronavirus is still steep, the ABC News/Ipsos survey shows.

Overwhelming majorities of Americans favor restrictions related to containing the coronavirus and fear moving too quickly to reopen the economy – concerns that break through party lines amid a national unease about the pandemic, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

Just over eight in 10 Americans are concerned about contracting the virus, a number that has held steady in polling the last few weeks.

In this week’s poll, 72% believe moving too quickly to loosen the stay-at-home orders is a greater threat to the country than moving too slowly, and 86% think social distancing and stay-at-home orders are responsible policies. And if restrictions were lifted tomorrow, some 80% say they are unlikely to go out to public places that are likely to draw crowds.

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In the new poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, anxiety over the coronavirus is still steep – as concern over getting the deadly disease hovers around the low eighties for the second week in a row. Only slightly more than one-quarter of Americans believe moving too slowly to ease restrictions poses a greater danger to the country, with more jobs being lost, than moving too quickly.

A meager 14% of Americans think stay-at-home orders constrict personal liberty, and only one in five said if restrictions were lifted the next day, they would likely go out in public.

Even majorities of those identifying with President Donald Trump's own party favorably view the current status quo and are more resistant to sudden changes. About three-quarters of Republicans are concerned about becoming infected, 53% support a slower return to normal, and 72% said they were unlikely to return to public places if restrictions were relaxed immediately.

More surprising, perhaps, is the 82% of Republicans who align with the view that social distancing and stay-at-home orders are responsible, life-saving actions, while only 17% believe the restrictive measures are a government overreaction that infringes on an individual's freedom.

That number comes against the backdrop of scattered demonstrations across the country, organized by protesters angry by the rigid stay-at-home orders in place as a response to the coronavirus, which has forced millions to claim unemployment benefits and ground most economic activity to a halt.

A potentially record-setting demonstration is on the horizon, as thousands are expected to protest outside Wisconsin's state capital in Madison on Friday.

Even as Trump alternates between openly encouraging the protests and breaking with one of his allies, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, over a sudden timeframe for reopening businesses in his state, the country believes the drastic efforts to contain and control the spread of COVID-19 are appropriate.

Partisan colors still show with Democrats being more likely to be worried about the outbreak (87%), back the stringent limitations on daily life, such as social distancing and the emergency orders issued by the nation's governors (98%), and believe that moving too quickly is a threat to the country's progress (92%). And 92% of Democrats also said they are unlikely to go out in public under immediate loosened restrictions.

The new survey also finds that independents largely trace the views of the country, with a near 80%-20% margin across the board on each question.

Among independents, 80% are concerned about contracting the virus, compared to 20% who are not; 72% see more risk for the country in moving too quickly than too slowly (28%); 80% support social distancing and the stay-at-home orders, compared to 20% who believe they are a government overreach; and 76% say they would be unlikely to leave home, compared to 24% who said they would be likely, if those emergency measures were instantly lifted.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® April 22-23, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 506 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 5.6 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.

What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map