Political News

Poll: Majority of Americans believe the worst is yet to come from the coronavirus outbreak

Posted March 15, 2020 12:16 p.m. EDT

— A new national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released Sunday finds that concern about coronavirus is widespread and, as seen in other recent polling on the virus, views about it are sharply divided by partisanship.

A majority of registered voters, 53%, say they are very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family might catch the coronavirus, but that is sharply divided by party. About seven in 10 Democrats are that worried (68%) compared with 40% among Republicans. Six in 10 overall (60%) say the worst is yet to come from the coronavirus outbreak. And just 6% think the worst is behind us.

Most say their daily lives have changed at least somewhat as a result of the virus (71% total: 45% in a small way, 26% in a major way), while about eight in 10 see changes in the future. Forty-one percent see at least major changes in their day-to-day lives in the future and another 39% say there will be at least small changes in the future. Democrats are also more likely to say they think there are future major changes coming to their day-to-day lives because of the virus, 56% say so vs. 26% among Republicans.

Measuring the impact of the virus, about a quarter of employed registered voters (27%) say that their workplace has already closed or they expect it to do so because of the virus. Among parents who are registered to vote, the poll finds about three-quarters say their child's school or daycare has closed or that they expect it to do so in the future (74% say so).

Majority disapprove of Trump's handling of coronavirus

The poll finds 51% disapprove of President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus, while 45% say they approve. About half, 48%, say they have a fair amount of confidence or a great deal of confidence in Trump to deal with the outbreak, below the 75% who say they have confidence in their state government, 72% in their local government and 62% in the federal government. About a third (35%) say they have "no confidence at all" in Trump on the virus.

The share rating the economy as excellent or good has dipped from 53% in December to 47% now, as the share who expect the nation's economy to get worse in the next year has risen from 24% in December to 31% now.

Trump's overall approval rating in the poll is 46% approval to 51% disapproval.

Biden nearly doubles Sanders' support

In the race for the Democratic nomination for president, the poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden nearly doubling Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' support. Sixty-one percent of those who have voted in a Democratic primary or say they plan to do so support Biden, while 32% back Sanders. Among this group of Democratic primary voters, 74% say they would be enthusiastic (37%) or comfortable (37%) with Biden, 66% say the same about Sanders (27% enthusiastic, 39% comfortable).

In hypothetical head-to-head matchups, Biden tops Trump 52% to 43%, while Sanders holds a narrower 49% to 45% edge.

The poll was conducted March 11-13. Results among registered voters nationwide have an error margin of +/-3.3 percentage points, and for Democratic primary voters it is +/-4.7 points.

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