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Sharp Political Divide on Masks and Other COVID-19 Issues as Election Nears

SBB Research Group's latest survey results reveal a polarized nation, especially regarding President Trump and mask wearing.

With the US presidential election fast approaching, Americans are sharply divided along political lines about COVID-19. The latest survey results from SBB Research Group reveal a polarized nation, especially regarding President Trump and mask wearing. The Chicago-area firm, which analyzes a wide variety of data to enhance its investment strategies, released initial results from this research series on March 31, 2020.

Split Views on President Trump’s Impact

A majority (54 percent) of Republicans believe the Trump administration has made a positive impact on public health, and an even greater proportion (70 percent) say that he has bolstered the economy during the pandemic. Almost no Democrats agree on his impact on either public health (2 percent) or the economy (6 percent), and generally view President Trump’s impact as “significantly negative.” Independents tended to view the President’s impact in both categories as “mildly negative.”

Increasing Bipartisan Support for Masks

In early July, over 90 percent of Democrats and about 80 percent of Independents responded that people should wear masks “all” or “most” of the time they are in public. At that time, a smaller majority (60 percent) of Republicans said the same.

On July 20, President Trump tweeted a photograph of himself wearing a mask for the first time with a comment that “many people say it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance.” Shortly after that, survey results reflected a strong uptick in Republican support for wearing masks “all” or “most” of the time, rising from 60 to 74 percent. Support for masks among Democrats and Independents remained at similar levels.

“Even as a candidate, Trump was particularly effective at engaging his audience,” said Sam Barnett, Ph.D., who analyzed brain reactions in a study with CNNMoney during the Republican presidential primary debate on March 10, 2016 (CNN: This is your brain on Donald Trump). “The response to his mask tweet is another example of that.”

Democrats Most Concerned About Second Wave

Regardless of political party, most people are concerned about a second wave of COVID-19 in the United States. However, Democrats generally are “very concerned,” whereas Republicans and Independents tend to be “somewhat concerned.” Nearly 38 percent of Democrats report being “extremely concerned” as opposed to 24 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Independents who said the same.

Consensus on Improved Financial Outlook

One area of agreement among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans is an improved financial outlook. In March, respondents from all three political parties said they were “very concerned” about the financial repercussions, and now they are only “somewhat concerned” on this issue. By contrast, each group’s levels of concern over personally contracting COVID-19 or having a loved one become ill have not changed significantly over the past five months.

In particular, American consumers have universally embraced e-commerce during the pandemic; 95 percent of survey respondents shopped online in the past 30 days. Consistent with these results, the Census Bureau reported that the second quarter of 2020 saw a 44.5 percent increase in retail e-commerce sales compared to the second quarter of 2019.

“The improved financial outlook and increased online spending go hand in hand,” said Matt Aven, COO of SBB Research Group. “The economy depends on the consumer and vice versa.”

For more details about these findings, other COVID-19 survey results, and future updates from this research series, please visit

Survey Methodology

All surveys were conducted online by respondents in the United States, and certain analyses were based on subsets of the survey population only. In aggregate, these results were based on 1,184 surveys taken between March 18, 2020 and August 10, 2020. The March results were based on surveys of 321 respondents (157 Democrats, 84 Independents, 80 Republicans) from March 18-23, 2020. The early July results were based on surveys of 301 respondents (151 Democrats, 76 Independents, 74 Republicans) from July 9-13, 2020. The July “post-tweet” results were based on surveys of 331 respondents (157 Democrats, 97 Independents, 77 Republicans) from July 20-27, 2020. The latest results were based on surveys of 231 respondents (122 Democrats, 59 Independents, 50 Republicans) August 7-10, 2020. Additional details about the survey methods and their limitations are available at

This post first appeared Globe Newswire and can also be found at Benzinga, Business Insider and Yahoo! Finance.


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