One Thing About Reopening That Most Democrats and Republicans Agree On
Americans aren't as divided on this topic as you might think.
While the protests dominating the news now are against systemic racism and police brutality, the demonstrations all over the news just a couple of weeks ago were over an entirely different cause. In many states, protestors assembled to demand the immediate reopening of non-essential businesses and the elimination of lockdown restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. If you turned on your TV or looked at the internet during that period, you surely saw Americans holding signs saying things like, "We demand haircuts." It's easy to assume, based on the proliferation of those images, that the country is split on how reopening should be handled. But a recent survey shows that the majority of Americans support a slow reopening to continue to manage COVID-19—and that's across party lines.
The survey—conducted by Public Agenda, USA Today, and Ipsos, and published on May 29—found that 77 percent of individuals asked believe that the economy should not be reopened all at once, but cautiously, in order to keep risk of infection down. While the percentages of those who identify as Democrats or Independents are higher—86 percent and 76 percent, respectively—a majority of Republicans (69 percent) also agree with this plan, debunking the assumption that this is a totally partisan issue.
There's more of a divide regarding those who believe—either "strongly" or "somewhat"—that reopening protestors are "endangering the lives of others." Of a 69 percent overall majority, 84 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Independents, and 53 percent of Republicans think that's true. (Certain areas are seeing their positive cases spike now, two to three weeks after reopening.)
And it's not just reopening that parties agree on. There's strong support across lines for several precautionary measures, including 14-day self-quarantine for those exposed (88 percent overall), wearing masks or face coverings in public (77 percent overall), and social distancing enforced in reopened businesses (76 percent overall), among others.
Look at news coverage of individual reopening protests, and you can see these percentages anecdotally reflected. NY1 reported on a reopening protest on Staten Island on May 16 that drew "dozens" of demonstrators. Also on May 16, a rally in San Diego was attended by "several hundred" demonstrators, according to FOX5. And a May 21 protest in Western New York covered by The Buffalo News consisted of "between 100 and 200" people, per the outlet. News footage shows these protesters spread out in public spaces. Compared to the overall population of these areas, these groups are not large.
Certainly, attitudes towards reopening will evolve and the numbers will change over time. But for now, the portion of the American public, regardless of their political affiliation, that wants to see an immediate return to business as usual is still the minority. And for more about the next phases, read up on 7 Myths About Reopening You Need to Stop Believing.