A poll released today by Monmouth splashed cold water on politicians aiming to maintain the broad lockdowns we have seen across the country so far.
While respondents agreed that public health should be the determining factor in decisions, a majority supported reopening all nine venues they were polled on. Right now, 81 percent support reopening barbershops and hair salons, and around 80 percent support opening playgrounds, athletic fields, and beaches. Americans are more hesitant about public pools and indoor event venues, supported by 59 percent of respondents, and fall in the middle for gyms, movie theaters, and outdoor event venues.
This does not mean that other measures are losing popularity. The vast majority of respondents agreed that for all of the venues above, social distancing and masks should be encouraged to improve safety. But self-enforced actions are now seen as the best primary way of combating the virus, instead of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
This signifies a major shift from just a few weeks ago, despite relatively minor changes in infection rate and treatments. At the start of May, support for reopening barbershops and movie theaters was at only at 31 percent and 18 percent respectively. Pundits initially attacked limited reopenings such as those in Florida and Georgia, before the issue was swept out of the news cycle by the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
There remains a partisan divide on the issue. Registered Republicans broadly support individuals and businesses with the ability to self-regulate, while registered Democrats favor continuing shutdowns of most public places. But these results suggest that more Democrats and Independents, if not the politicians representing them, are leaning towards a less involved approach.
Furthermore, this poll was carried out days before protests escalated to their current level. As politicians on the Left have changed their tune on public gatherings because of the movement, it’s possible that the numbers are now even higher across the board.
The poll also found bad news for the media and federal politicians. Favor-ability of the news media’s reporting on the pandemic has crashed to the lowest point since the beginning of shutdowns, with over half saying it is doing a bad job reporting on the topic. This is not a minor shift. Just a month ago, less than a third of respondents disaparroved of the media coverage in a different Monmouth poll. Favor-ability of federal politicians’ response, from the White House to Capital Hill, has remained generally low throughout, with 42 percent and 35 percent respectively.