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New Data: Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Track American Perspectives on the Pandemic

May 8, 2020

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For Immediate Release

May 6, 2020

Lauren Strayer
(202) 420-7928

Jack D’Amato
(404) 995-4500

Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Launches COVID Opinion Tracker

Findings show bipartisan agreement on level of concern, caution around what activities will return once restrictions lift, and growing divides on support for state and local restrictions.

Washington, D.C. — May 6, 2020

The nation’s largest public opinion survey announced it is launching a new service to better track and understand Americans’ views on the current health and economic crises. Led by Democracy Fund and UCLA, Nationscape captures the views of more than 6,000 people each week. As the Trump Administration sets its sights on reopening, what do Americans think and when will they feel safe to return to life before the pandemic? Nationscape’s COVID opinion tracker will provide comprehensive data to answer these questions.

Unlike most national surveys, the size of the Nationscape project enables us to detect smaller changes as well as attitudes among smaller demographic groups. Since March, Nationscape has been tracking Americans’ views on COVID 19 – with representation from across the country by party, geography, income, education level, and race.

Initial findings include:

  • Support for state and local actions. So far, the vast majority of Americans continue to support measures taken by state and local governments in response to the outbreak – including closure of schools (81%), cancellation of large gatherings (80%) and even closing businesses likes bars and restaurants (80%). While majorities of Democrats and Republicans still support state and local restrictions, Republicans support for some policies slipped in late April. For example, Democrats are now much likelier than Republicans to support policies that restrict non-essential travel outside the home (83% vs. 63%).
  • Cautious about a return to normal. Even when public health officials begin to advise that certain restrictions can be lifted, it is unclear how many Americans are confident that they will engage with a “reopened” society. Among those who engaged in such activities before COVID-19, people are more likely to say they will engage in more personal activities such as having dinner at a friend’s house (61%) than they are to say they will do things that have larger economic implications – such as riding on public transportation (28%), going to a mall (37%), or going to live sports event (24%). Just 38% say they would have a child return to school.
  • Reduced incomes and lost jobs. Substantial numbers of Americans have reported a significant economic change in their income. About half of those making less than $25,000 a year reported that their income has been significantly reduced (26%) or that they lost their primary source of income (24%). A smaller but still significant portion of those makes over $85,000 reported the same problems (23% and 8%). These economic shocks have also fallen disproportionately on Americans under 30 (24% and 19%), black Americans (28% and 14%), and Latino Americans (30% and 20%).

“As each week of the pandemic passes, we’ll have a clear snapshot of which Americans are struggling with lost income, willing to send their children back to school, or ready to reopen bars and restaurants,” said Lauren Strayer, managing director of Communications & Network at Democracy Fund. “Though mis- and dis-information seem to be clouding our collective understanding, Nationscape can help policymakers and civic leaders understand what Americans are experiencing and what their highest concerns are during this tragic period.”

“Re-orienting Nationscape to capture Americans’ beliefs, worries, and behaviors with respect to COVID-19 has revealed a nation largely in agreement on everything from preventative measures to thoughts about returning to normal activities,” says Lynn Vavreck, political scientist at UCLA. “Far from the partisan division that has described the last several years, nearly everyone has incorporated precautions against the virus into their daily lives and most people support government interventions to stop its spread. As we head into the presidential election, we will continue to chart how these things affect vote choice for an incumbent president presiding over an unexpected downturn in the American economy.”

Nationscape is a featured project of Democracy Fund Voter Study Group in partnership with UCLA. Nationscape samples are provided by Lucid, a leading market research platform. Americans’ views on COVID will be updated on a weekly. For more information and to see the findings, please visit


The Nationscape survey is conducted online and will interview approximately 6,250 Americans each week over the 80 weeks leading up to the 2020 election and the weeks following the election. The sample is provided by Lucid, a programmatic market research platform providing access to respondents that the Nationscape team uses to produce and study weekly, representative samples of the population. The Nationscape partnership includes Democracy Fund Voter Study Group and UCLA political scientists Chris Tausanovitch and Lynn Vavreck as well as UCLA graduate students Tyler Reny, Aaron Rudkin, Alex Rossell Hayes, and Ryan Baxter-King. The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is led by Program Director Alicia Kolar Prevost, Research Director Robert Griffin, Senior Research Advisor John Sides, and Democracy Fund's Lauren Strayer.

About Democracy Fund Voter Study Group

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a research collaboration of more than two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum. Created in the wake of the 2016 election, the Voter Study Group’s goal is to better understand the American electorate. Research and analysis from Voter Study Group members can be found at and on Twitter @democracyfund.

About UCLA

UCLA is an internationally renowned research university that takes in an average of nearly $1 billion in competitive research grants annually. U.S. News & World Report recently placed UCLA first among the world’s public universities, and the campus consistently is named in the top tier of global universities in a variety of rankings. With more than 100,000 applications each year, UCLA is the most-applied to university in the country.


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