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Many Expect to Get Back on Track, But in A ‘New Normal’ Post-Covid

Monday, June 15, 2020

Vacation plans slashed for this summer

West Long Branch, NJ – Many Americans remain out of work due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the expectation for most is that a new normal is just around the corner. The vast majority in a Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll feel confident about their own financial stability, but there has been a slight dip in confidence that the country can rein in the pandemic’s impact in the coming weeks. Most expect they will have to make permanent changes in how they interact with other people because of it. Other poll results show that the number of families with summer vacation plans has more than halved due to the outbreak.

Currently, 50% of Americans report the outbreak has had a major impact on their daily lives, which is down from 56% in May and 62% in April and is even lower than 53% who said the same in late March. Another 35% say the outbreak has had a minor impact and just 15% say it has had no real impact. The drop in feeling a major impact is due to a change in opinion among Republicans (30% now, compared with 43% in May, 55% in April and 40% in March) and independents (51% now, compared with 61% in May, 64% in April and 57% in March), while this view has held fairly steady among Democrats (65% now, compared with 62% in May, 66% in April and 61% in March).

Three in ten (29%) Americans report that someone in their household has been laid off from work because of the outbreak, which is virtually unchanged from prior polls (31% in May and 30% in April). Overall, 35% of the public reports losing income due to a decrease in work during the pandemic. This finding is down slightly from May (40%) and April (41%) and is identical to March (35%). Just over 1 in 5 (21%) report struggling to pay their bills, which is similar to past polls (23% in May and 22% in April – this question was not asked in March).

While many have taken an economic hit in the past couple of months, most Americans continue to feel their financial situation is basically stable (65%). Throughout the pandemic, more than 6 in 10 Americans have maintained that they feel this way. The number of people who say they are struggling has declined from 26% in March to 20% in the current poll, while the number who say their finances are improving has been steady – from 11% in March to 13% currently. Compared to last year, the number of people who say they are struggling has returned to pre-Covid levels (20% in April 2019), but the number who say their situation is improving remains lower than in 2019 (25%).

“A large proportion of the public remains bullish on their financial outlook despite any hit they may have taken during the outbreak. That seems to be based on the expectation that they will quickly bounce back,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

A large majority (64%) of those who have been laid off because of the outbreak (or have had someone in their household laid off) expect that they will be able to return to their same job. Just 27% say they will have to look for a new job and 10% are unsure of their position. Among those who have experienced a layoff, 16% say they are already back at work, another 25% expect to be back at work in a few weeks and 22% expect to be back before the end of summer. Another 18% say it will take them until the end of the year to get back to work, 10% say it will take longer, 2% say they will never return to work, and 7% are uncertain about their return to the workforce. 

There is a link between expectations about returning to work and overall sense of financial stability. Among those experiencing an outbreak-related layoff in their household, 30% say they are struggling financially, 58% feel stable, and just 10% are improving. The outlook is most negative among those who do not expect to go back to work in the next few weeks, with 41% say they are struggling, 50% stable, and 7% improving. However, among those who will return to work shortly or have already returned, just 15% are struggling, while 70% are stable and 14% are improving. This latter group’s outlook is similar to those who have not experienced any layoffs during the outbreak – 16% struggling, 68% stable, and 15% improving.

“The fact that most Americans have a positive view of their long-term outlook is either because they haven’t taken a direct hit or they feel their current situation is a temporary hiccup. It seems very few people expect any economic pain they may be experiencing now to last beyond the fall,” said Murray.

While the long-term outlook might be positive, the pandemic has disrupted vacation plans. Before the outbreak, 63% of Americans planned to take a trip for their summer vacation. Now, only 14% are definitely (8%) or probably (6%) sticking with those original plans. An additional 12% say they are likely to revise their original plans, equating to just 1 in 4 Americans who are definitely (13%) or probably (13%) going to take a vacation trip this summer. Among those whose original plans have or might change, 96% say the pandemic is the main reason why.

“A large number of Americans scrapped their vacation plans this summer. Those who will venture out are likely to pick a place they can reach by car. That means the more remote destinations will see the biggest drop in activity, but even vacation spots near population centers are likely to see fewer visitors overall,” said Murray.

Originally, 17% of Americans planned to travel outside the country this summer, 33% were going somewhere in the U.S. more than 200 miles from their homes, and 13% were sticking closer to home for their vacation trip. Now, just 3% plan to leave the U.S. on vacation, 12% will travel farther than 200 miles, and 11% will take a vacation trip closer to home. Originally, 36% of the public planned to take a plane for at least part of their vacation trip, 3% were going on a boat, and 1% were taking a train. Another 31% planned to drive for all or part of their trip. Currently, 8% plan to fly to a vacation spot this summer and fewer than 1% will take either a boat or a train, while 17% will drive.

Turning to the health impact of the virus, about 7 in 10 Americans remain at least somewhat concerned about someone in their family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus. However, the number who are very concerned (37%) is down slightly from May (42%) and April (50%), and is in line with similar views in March (38%). In the current poll, another 32% are somewhat concerned, 14% are not too concerned and 16% are not at all concerned.

The number of Americans who report knowing someone who has gotten the virus is holding steady at 40%. It was also 40% in May while it was 26% in April. Two percent of Americans report they have had the coronavirus themselves (2% in May and less than 1% in April) and 15% say a family member has contracted it (14% in May and 7% in April). By race, those who are white (12% now, 12% in May, and 5% in April) remain less likely than Americans who are black, Latino, Asian or of other races (23% now, 23% in May, and 12% in April) to report that they or someone in their family has gotten the coronavirus.

While there has been no increase in the number of Americans reporting to know someone with the virus since last month, faith in the nation’s ability to control the virus has slipped. Less than half the public (43%) has at least some confidence that the country will be able to limit the impact of the outbreak over the next few weeks. This number stood at 50% in May, 53% in April, and 62% in March. Confidence in being able to limit the impact has remained high among Republicans throughout the outbreak (74% now, 79% in May, 73% in April, 86% in March), but it has dipped among independents (40% now, 45% in May, 55% in April, 62% in March) and Democrats (21% now, 30% in May, 36% in April, 41% in March).

“Even though the rate of spread has slowed in many places, there is some doubt whether we really have a handle on this virus. The new normal means people expect that limitations on everyday activities will continue in some form,” said Murray.

Only 37% of Americans expect that the way they interact with others in public places will be able to return to how it used to be while 61% say they will have to make some permanent changes in the way they interact. Overall, slightly more than half (53%) feels very hopeful that they and their families will be able to get their lives back to normal after the pandemic. This number was higher in May (63%) and April (69%). Another 38% in the current poll are somewhat hopeful, while very few are either not too (5%) or not at all (3%) hopeful.

Note on partisanship in the vacation questions from poll director Patrick Murray:

“One particular finding in this poll reveals just how deep partisan tribalism runs in America today. When we
asked people whether they were still going to take a vacation this year, there were only small partisan
differences. Republicans (31%) were slightly more likely than independents (25%) and Democrats (22%) to
report this. But when we asked the initial question for this series – were you planning to take a summer trip
before the pandemic hit – we saw a huge partisan gap. Just 43% of Republicans said a vacation was in the
cards before Covid versus a whopping 67% of independents and 75% of Democrats who said the same. Among
those with pre-existing vacation plans, 52% of Republicans say they are definitely or probably sticking with
those plans. The comparable numbers among independents (20%) and Democrats (11%) are much, much
lower.

“To put this in context, an Associated Press-NORC poll taken in May 2017 found 56% of Americans were
planning a summer vacation that year, including 60% of Republicans, 57% of independents, and 52% of
Democrats. Other polls have found similar partisan findings on this question. These differences are in line with
the small partisan gap found in the current Monmouth poll among those currently planning a vacation, but it is
not anything near the yawning partisan chasm on the comparable question about original vacation intentions.

“It is incredibly hard to swallow that people chose to make 2020 vacation plans earlier in the year based on
their partisan identities. And it is even more difficult to believe that Republicans are many multiples more
likely to be sticking to their original plans. However, these seemingly innocuous questions followed other items
about the pandemic’s impact and how government officials, including President Trump, have handled it.

“The initial vacation planning question results probably represent over-reporting among Democrats about
whether they really did have vacation plans and under-reporting among Republicans. These differences appear
to have an offsetting effect in the total number who report having made vacation plans earlier in the year
(which is in line the AP-NORC result from 2017). But even without knowing what questions were to follow in
the poll, it seems plausible that some Democratic respondents reported having nonexistent vacation plans to
demonstrate that Trump’s handling of Covid has impacted their lives while many Republicans said they never
had any plans to show that Trump isn’t to blame for any impact on their lives, because there is none.

“The partisan range in the final question about their actual current plans appears to be more grounded in
verifiable truth than the initial question. It is just another piece of evidence that almost everything going on in
the world today is mediated through a partisan lens.”

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with 807 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-3 previously released.]

4. Thinking about your current financial situation, would you say you are struggling to remain where you are financially, basically stable in your current financial situation, or is your financial situation improving?

 
TREND:
June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
April
2019
April
2018
Jan.
2017
Struggling20%23%26%26%20%24%29%
Stable65%63%62%61%54%51%51%
Improving13%13%11%11%25%23%20%
(VOL) Don’t know1%1%2%1%1%2%0%
(n)(807)(808)(857)(851)(801)(803)(801)

5. How concerned are you about someone in your family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

    
TREND:
June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Very concerned37%42%50%38%
  Somewhat concerned32%28%33%32%
  Not too concerned14%14%9%18%
  Not at all concerned16%16%7%12%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%0%0%0%
  (VOL) Has already happened0%0%0%n/a
(n)(807)(808)(857)(851)

6. Do you personally know anyone who has gotten the coronavirus?

     TREND:June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
  Yes40%40%26%
  No60%60%74%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%0%0%
(n)(807)(808)(857)

6A. How do you know this person or persons? [LIST WAS NOT READ]
[Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted

     TREND:June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
  Self2%2%<1%
  Family member15%14%7%
  Friend, neighbor, social acquaintance22%22%12%
  Co-worker, from work7%7%5%
  Patient, someone I treated as a health care provider1%1%1%
  Other0%0%1%
  No one (from Q6)60%60%74%
  (VOL) No answer0%0%0%
(n)(807)(808)(857)

7. How confident are you that the country will be able to limit the impact of the outbreak over the next few weeks – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

     TREND:June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Very confident15%16%15%25%
  Somewhat confident28%34%38%37%
  Not too confident26%25%24%21%
  Not at all confident30%25%21%15%
  (VOL) Don’t know2%1%2%2%
(n)(807)(808)(857)(851)

8. Thinking about you personally, has the coronavirus outbreak had a major impact, minor impact, or no real impact on your own daily life?

     TREND:June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
March
2020
  Major impact 50%56%62%53%
  Minor impact35%31%27%32%
  No impact15%13%10%15%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%0%1%0%
(n)(807)(808)(857)(851)

9. And are you very hopeful, somewhat hopeful, not too hopeful, or not at all hopeful that you and your family will be able to get your lives back to normal after the outbreak is over?

     TREND:June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
  Very hopeful53%63%69%
  Somewhat hopeful38%28%26%
  Not too hopeful5%5%3%
  Not at all hopeful3%2%1%
  (VOL) Don’t know1%1%1%
(n)(807)(808)(857)

10. Do you think the way you interact with other people in public places will be able to return to how it used to be or will you have to make some permanent changes in the way you interact?

      June
2020
Be able to return to how it used to be37%
Have to make some permanent changes61%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(807)

[Q11-20 previously released.]

21. Have you personally done any of the following or had any of the following happen because of the coronavirus outbreak? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

        TREND: Yes, have
done/has happened
No, have not
done/has not happened

(VOL) Don’t know


(n)
Started to work from home for the first time25%75%0%(807)
   — May 202026%74%0%(808)
   — April 202027%72%0%(857)
   — March 202020%79%1%(851)
     
Lost income due to a decrease in work hours or less business35%65%0%(807)
   — May 202040%60%0%(808)
   — April 202041%59%1%(857)
   — March 202035%64%1%(851)
     
Struggled to pay your bills21%79%0%(807)
   — May 202023%77%0%(808)
   — April 202022%78%0%(857)
   — March 2020n/an/an/an/a
     

22. Have you or someone in your household been laid off from work because of the outbreak?  [If YES: Is this you or someone else?]

     TREND:June
2020
May
2020
April
2020
  Yes, self7%9%9%
  Yes, other person18%17%18%
  Yes, self and other4%5%3%
  No, no one71%68%69%
  (VOL) Don’t know0%0%0%
(n)(807)(808)(857)

[Question 22A was asked of those with someone laid off in the household; n= 220, m.o.e.= +/- 6.6%]

22A. Will [you/this person] be able to return to the same job or have to get a new job?

      June
2020
Be able to return to the same job64%
Have to get a new job27%
(VOL) Don’t know10%
(n)(220)

[Question 22B was asked of those with someone laid off in the household; n= 220, m.o.e.= +/- 6.6%]

22B. When do you expect that [you/this person] will be back at work – within the next few weeks, before the end of the summer, before the end of the year, sometime later, or never?

      June
2020
Within the next few weeks25%
Before the end of the summer22%
Before the end of the year18%
Sometime later10%
Never2%
(VOL) Already back at work16%
(VOL) Don’t know7%
(n)(220)

23. Before the pandemic hit, were you planning to take a trip this summer for your vacation or were you not planning to take a vacation trip?

      June
2020
Yes, planning63%
No, not planning 37%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(807)

24A. Were you planning to go somewhere within 200 miles of your home, somewhere farther away in the United States, or somewhere outside the country?  [If MULTIPLE TRIPS: In this case let’s talk about the longest trip in time.]

      June
2020
Within 200 miles of your home13%
Farther away in the United States33%
Outside the country17%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
No trip planned (from Q23)37%
(n)(807)

24B. Were you going to drive to your destination or take a plane, boat, or train to get there? [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]

      June
2020
Drive31%
Plane36%
Boat3%
Train1%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
No trip planned (from Q23)37%
(n)(807)

25. Are you still going to take the trip you originally planned for this summer – definitely, probably, probably not, or definitely not?

      June
2020
Definitely 8%
Probably6%
Probably not 11%
Definitely not 37%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
No trip planned (from Q23)37%
(n)(807)

[Question 25A was asked of those who have or might change vacation plans; n= 479, m.o.e= +/- 4.5%]

25A. Is the coronavirus outbreak the main reason for any changes or potential changes to your plans or is something else the main reason?

      June
2020
Outbreak the main reason96%
Something else the main reason2%
(VOL) Both outbreak and other reason equally2%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(479)

26. CURRENT VACATION PLANS:  Will you take a vacation trip this summer to a different place than you originally planned – definitely, probably, probably not, or definitely not? [TABLE below combines changed plans with those who will definitely/probably keep original plans.]

Combined: CURRENT TRIP PLANSJune
2020
Definitely 13%
Probably13%
Probably not 18%
Definitely not 19%
No trip planned (from Q23)37%
(n)(807)

27A. CURRENT VACATION PLANS:  Will you go somewhere within 200 miles of your home, somewhere farther away in the United States, or somewhere outside the country? [TABLE below combines location of changed plans with those who will definitely/probably keep original plans.]

Combined: CURRENT TRIP PLANSJune
2020
Within 200 miles of your home11%
Farther away in the United States12%
Outside the country3%
Trip not probable/planned74%
(n)(807)

27B. CURRENT VACATION PLANS:  Will you drive to your destination or take a plane, boat, or train to get there? [TABLE below combines travel mode of changed plans with those who will definitely/probably keep original plans.]

Combined: CURRENT TRIP PLANSJune
2020
Drive17%
Plane8%
Boat0%
Train0%
Trip not probable/planned74%
(n)(807)

[Q28-39, B1-B10 & Q40-57 previously released.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with a national random sample of 807 adults age 18 and older. This includes 279 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 528 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
27% Republican
41% Independent
31% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
36% 55+
 
64% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
69% No degree
31% 4 year degree
  

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs