Americans Showing Resolve Through COVID-19 Crisis

Younger Adults Taking Biggest Financial Hit

April 01, 2020

An overwhelming majority of Americans (88%) are confident the country will get through the COVID-19 crisis and be OK when it’s over, according to the newest edition of the Grinnell College National Poll. The poll, a partnership between Grinnell College and nationally renowned pollster J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Company, was released April 1, 2020.

Additionally, when asked what a reasonable time to stay home without physical contact with people from the outside, nearly seven in 10 respondents say they would do it as long as was asked of them.

“My three words on coronavirus are confident, calm, and compliant,” said J. Ann Selzer, founder of Selzer & Company.  “Yes, some people are feeling stressed, angry, and scared a lot of the time, but more say they feel calm a lot of the time, and a huge majority feel confident the nation will get through this and be OK. There is willingness to change behavior for the benefit of the community.”

Does this describe your state of mind a lot of the time? Those that answered "Yes", N=1,009 MoE = ± 3.1 percentage points

Bar graph showing 88% confident America will get through this, 72% calm, 55% stressed, 42% boxed in, 34% confused, 31% angry, 22% unconcerned, 21% lonely, 18% panicked, 15% feeling doomed

How long do you think it would be reasonable for you to stay home without physical contact with people outside your home? N=507 MoE = ± 4.4 percentage points

Bar graph showing 4% would not be willing at all, 2% a day or two, 8% a week, 13% two weeks, 70% as long as asked

Financial Future of Those Under 35 Being Affected Most by Pandemic

As the overall financial impact on Americans continues to evolve during the pandemic, the economic impact is being felt more commonly by younger Americans than their middle-aged or older counterparts. They are more likely to say that the following have already happened to them or that expect it to happen soon: Being laid-off or furloughed (45%), being unable to pay a regular bill (43%) and losing wages (57%).

These younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to say that they have gone or expect to go hungry because of difficulty obtaining food (25%).

"While most Americans sheltering in place, the economic consequences of doing so are substantial and fall most heavily on those who are under 35,” said Associate Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College and Grinnell College National Poll Director Peter Hanson. “They are much more likely than those who are older to have been laid off or to have difficulty paying their bills, and they are reporting more stress as well." 

Younger workers are more likely to work in the restaurant industry and other service sector jobs that have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic.

“Younger workers are less likely to have stable employment and longer tenure in their jobs,” said Grinnell Professor of Economics Eric Ohrn. “In the event of a downturn, these types of workers are often the first to go.”

“Within a few short months, the economy may move from under 4% unemployment to over 25% - a figure commonly given for the height of the Great Depression,” said Grinnell College Professor of Economics Bill Ferguson.

Tell me if this is something that has already happened because of the coronavirus, if you expect it to happen in the near future or if you do not expect it to happen anytime soon. N=1,009 MoE = ± 3.1 percentage points

Bar graph showing expectations for coronavirus effects by poll respondents

Under Age 35, N = 198, MoE = ± 7.0 percentage points

Bar graph showing expectations for coronavirus effects by poll respondents under age 35

Republicans are the Only Demographic Group More Concerned with Economy Than Health Care System

Most Americans (53%) believe overwhelming hospitals and the health care system poses the greatest long-term risk to the nation, as opposed to 40% who think the economic impact of shutting down businesses and people staying at home is the greater risk. This holds true across all demographic groups except for Republicans. Fifty-five percent of Republicans see the economy as the greater risk.

Which do you think poses the greater long-term risk to the nation? N= 1,009 MoE = ± 3.1 percentage points

Bar graph showing what Democrats, Republicans, and Independents think are the greatest threats

Americans are Clear in Who They Trust for Information About the COVID-19 Pandemic

By far, government experts in public health and personal doctors are the most trusted sources of information to help the public understand what is happening with COVID-19. Nearly all (91%) say they completely (46%) or mostly (45%) trust their doctors. And 83% say they completely (21%) or mostly (62%) trust government health experts. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence rank lower at 46% and 50%, respectively, of respondents saying they completely or mostly trust the two who sit atop the federal government.

“Predictably, Republicans and Democrats report very different levels of trust in President Trump as a reliable source of information on the coronavirus,” said Grinnell College Professor of History and Religion Caleb Elfenbein. “By contrast, the vast majority of Americans have confidence in our government’s public health experts. These results show that nonpartisan expertise is crucial to our ability to act with common purpose to slow the virus.”

Is this a source of COVID-19 information you completely trust, mostly trust, mostly distrust or completely distrust? N=1,009, MoE = ± 3.1 percentage points

Bar graph showing the sources of trust for information on COVID-19

High Proportions of Those Who Can Comply with Guidelines Are Doing So

Nearly all (98%) of Americans are washing their hands more frequently, 91% are staying away from gatherings of 10 or more people and 84% are staying mostly inside without physical contact with people outside of their homes.

“Most Americans are practicing social distancing and remaining mostly at home to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Elfenbein said. “Americans say they are willing to do what is necessary to slow the spread of the virus, and it helps explain why almost 90% of respondents believe that we will make it through this crisis.”

For each of the following guidelines, have you mostly done it or mostly not done it? Based on those for whom the guideline applies. Smallest N=624, MoE = ± 3.9 percentage points.

Bar graph showing that most respondants are reporting compliance with guidelines

The poll was conducted March 27-30, 2020.



We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.