Mood of the Nation Poll offers a snapshot of life during pandemic's early phase

August 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As COVID-19 swept across the country this spring, most Americans reported feeling fearful of at least one daily activity that they did not think twice about before the pandemic, according to findings from the latest McCourtney Institute for Democracy Mood of the Nation Poll.

The poll, conducted April 27-30, offers a glimpse into how Americans of all backgrounds came to grips with a quickly changing situation and adjusted their daily routines to stay safe and healthy. More than 40% of respondents reported feeling more fearful about receiving mail and packages, and 38% were fearful of ordering takeout food.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy's Mood of the Nation Poll found that many Americans felt differently about common daily activities as a result of COVID-19. The poll was conducted April 27-30 and offers a glimpse into the pandemic's early phase.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy's Mood of the Nation Poll found that many Americans felt differently about common daily activities as a result of COVID-19. The poll was conducted April 27-30, 2020, and offers a glimpse into the pandemic's early phase.

IMAGE: McCourtney Institute for Democracy

In general, people who identified as Democrats were more fearful of daily activities than those who identified as Republicans, with those who identified as Independents falling in between the two. Susan Welch, professor of political science, said the team also expected to see differences based on the number of COVID-19 cases in a particular area, but largely did not.

“We did not find many significant differences between those who lived in a county in the top 10% of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 and those who did not,” Welch said. “The exceptions were fear of taking a walk in the neighborhood and receiving packages and other deliveries into ones’ homes. There, possible exposure to the virus from other community members led those in areas of high COVID-19 incidence to be more fearful.”

COVID-19 has also impacted people’s views of political issues like barriers to voting, access to healthcare, and the national minimum wage. For each of the issues, more respondents were likely to see the problems as very serious after the pandemic than before.

The change in attitude was greatest when it came to concerns about the number of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck (12%) and the government’s capacity to respond to major emergencies (11%). However, partisan differences on these issues did not change as a result of the pandemic.

“The difficult time that Americans have had during the COVID pandemic did highlight both the economic problems of many Americans and the problems that the government has had in marshaling resources and citizen support to fight the pandemic,” Welch said. “Though Americans are suffering together, there is no sign that it has brought their outlook and opinions closer together.”

Read the full Mood of the Nation Poll report on the McCourtney Institute for Democracy website.

Last Updated August 07, 2020