President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Many on the left are touting a Pew Research Poll released last Thursday that revealed that about two-thirds of Americans are “concerned” that COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted too quickly. Progressives are using the poll to criticize President Donald Trump, who unveiled his administration’s three-phase plan to get Americans back to work.
According to the poll, “66% of Americans say they are more concerned that these restrictions will be lifted too quickly, while 32% say they are more concerned they won’t be lifted quickly enough.” Interestingly enough, Republicans seem to be split on this question.
The poll, which was conducted between April 7 and 12, also found that, “About half (51%) say they’re more concerned the restrictions will be lifted too quickly, while roughly the same share (48%) say they are more concerned they won’t be lifted quickly enough.”
As can be expected, the vast majority of Democrats are worried that the COVID-19 measures would be repealed too soon. The poll found that, “About eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners (81%) say they’re more concerned restrictions will be lifted too quickly. This includes 85% of liberals and a slightly smaller share of conservatives and moderates (77%).”
The Pew Research Center’s survey was not the only recent study analyzing the attitudes of Americans in relation to the reopening of the economy. Shortly after this particular poll was taken, The Wall Street Journal and NBC News conducted a similar survey between April 13 and 15, starting only one day after the Pew study.
The second study found that 58% of Americans are concerned about reopening the economy too quickly, while 32% indicated that they are more worried that the restrictions would not be lifted soon enough. The six percentage point difference between the two polls could be an indicator that Americans’ opinions on the matter are evolving on an almost daily basis.
But it is also worth noting that neither of these studies actually measure opinions regarding whether state governments should reopen their economies starting in May. So far, there has been no recent study revealing whether or not most Americans believe that moving towards opening the economy is desirable.
What neither of these studies takes into account is the fact that two things can be true at once: One can be worried that lifting COVID-19 restrictions could cause a resurgence of the virus while still believing that it is the right move. People with this view would recognize the threat of the disease while also acknowledging the level of damage these shutdown orders are inflicting on the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
Conversely, people could be concerned about the nation taking too long to restart commerce while believing that state governments should be slow in easing these restrictions. Individuals in this category might believe that a return of the virus could cause more damage over the long term than the alternative.
Now that the president has gone public with his team’s plan to restart commerce in the United States, it seems appropriate that organizations would now attempt to gather data related to Americans’ opinions of the reopening strategy. In the end, it is Americans’ views on how the nation should proceed that is relevant, not the emotions that we feel about the options. Perhaps pollsters might focus on this data rather than only reporting on what people feel about moving forward.
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