The latest NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll shows which groups are optimistic and pessimistic about the economic recovery. There is broad consensus among 65% of Americans who think a return to normal life after coronavirus will take six months or more. A small minority (32%) believe their lives will return to normal within six months.
A split is emerging based on party, gender, race, income, education level, and geographic lines. Democrats, women, African Americans, higher income groups and higher educated groups, suburban and urban dwellers, and those in the West show higher levels of pessimism about a rapid return to normal life.
Conversely, Republicans, men, Hispanics, lower income and lower-educated groups, rural residents, and those in the Northeast show higher levels of optimism about a rapid return to normal life. Hispanics’ higher optimism about the recovery, in-line with President Trump’s, could reduce already weak Hispanic support for Joe Biden.
Majorities in all groups think return to normal will take longer than six months, but Republicans are more optimistic
Political party shows one of the widest splits between Americans who believe the recovery will be greater or less than six months. As shown below, a full 78% of Democrats think recovery will take more than six months, versus 55% of Republicans and 68% of Independents.
There is also a modest gender gap between those optimistic and pessimistic about recovery, with 68% of women stating a return to normal will be greater than six months compared to 62% of men.
College-educated women show the lowest optimism while no-college women show the highest. Seventy-percent of college educated women say a return to normal will take more than six months compared to 68% of college educated men. Sixty-four percent of no-college females and 66% of no college males say recovery will take more than six months.
Higher education and higher income Americans are more pessimistic about a return to normal
While majorities in all groups think recovery will be slow, higher-educated and higher-income Americans are more pessimistic about the time it will take to return to normal. As shown below, lower income and educated groups are more optimistic compared to their higher income and higher-educated counterparts.
There are also divisions between Americans on the East and West coasts, and those from urban, suburban, and small-town locations. While majorities across the country believe recovery will take more than six months, 38% of North Easterners and 33% of Southerners think recovery will take less than six months. Westerners have the bleakest outlook, with just 26% saying they think life will return to normal within six months, followed by 29% of Midwesterners.
Almost 70% of big-city dwellers think recovery will take more than six months, but only 60% of rural residents think so. Sixty-six percent of small-town dwellers, 65% of suburbanites, and 62% of small-city dwellers think recovery will take more than six months.
Hispanics are more optimistic about recovery, African Americans less
Another split emerges along racial lines, with Hispanics showing significantly higher levels of optimism than either Whites or African Americans. As shown below, Hispanics are close to twice as likely as African Americans to expect a return to normal in less than six months.
The majority of Americans across political, socioeconomic, and geographic variables believe a return to normal life will be slow, but there are distinct variations across the country and across demographic groups. Is the relative optimism of lower educated and lower income Americans from rural regions misplaced, or were these groups more prepared to weather the shutdown than wealthier urban and suburban dwellers? Why are Hispanics so optimistic compared to other groups? More research is needed to understand how the coronavirus has impacted Americans differently, and address needs at the state and local level.