Politics

Voters worry more about their health than finances as coronavirus spreads, CNBC/Change Research poll finds

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Key Points
  • Voters in six 2020 election battleground states are most worried about getting the coronavirus, but concerns about losing wages and covering costs are increasing. 
  • The CNBC/Change Research poll of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin shows rising worries about personal health and finances. 
  • While voters overwhelmingly approve of the $2 trillion aid package Congress passed last month, they mostly oppose the $500 billion fund for loans and grants to corporations. 
Adriana Gomez prays outside the Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church on Palm Sunday during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, April 5, 2020.
Kyle Grillot | Reuters

As the coronavirus infects more Americans and clobbers the U.S. economy, voters in pivotal 2020 election states are more worried about their health than their wallets, a poll released Tuesday found. 

Likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — which will play an enormous role in deciding the 2020 election winner — overwhelmingly said they are more concerned about themselves or a family member getting sick than they are about their finances, a change from last month, according to States of Play, a joint CNBC/Change Research survey of swing states. The poll found 82% of likely swing-state voters said they were more worried about about their family's health and safety than their family's financial situation, while 18% said the opposite. 

Even so, concerns about losing wages or jobs and covering expenses spiked since mid-March as businesses across the country shutter to prevent the pandemic's spread. In addition, more than a third of respondents in the six key states who have already lost income or employment said they could afford food, housing and other essential costs for less than a month.

The COVID-19 outbreak has ripped through the United States, infecting more than 368,000 people and leading to at least 10,993 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of Tuesday morning. Business shutdowns across the country caused the economy to shed 701,000 jobs in early March — though a tally of roughly 10 million new jobless claims over two weeks indicates the economic destruction is much worse than the employment report showed. 

While respondents' worries about losing income have jumped since the first iteration of the swing state poll taken in mid-March, voters now fear for their health most. 

  • 84% of respondents in April said they have "very" or "somewhat" serious concerns about themselves or a family member getting sick, up from 51% in March. 
  • 81% said they had significant concerns about a recession, a jump from 57% last month. 
  • Fears about lost wages spiked, with 65% now seeing it as a very or somewhat serious concern in April, versus 35% in March. 
  • 39% said the same about losing a job, an increase from 16% last month. 
  • Only 35% of respondents said the U.S. economy is good or excellent, versus 65% who called it poor or not so good. It marks a major shift from March, when 57% of respondents rated it as good or excellent.

In the April survey, 30% of likely voters in the six states said they have lost wages because of the coronavirus, 27% responded that they have seen fewer hours at work and 11% said they have lost their job. 

Among those who lost wages, 40% said they could cover their cost of living for less than a month, while 72% responded that they could pay for food, housing and other essentials for less than two months. For people who lost jobs, those figures increased to 42% and 76% for one month and two months, respectively.

Voters hardly have a glowing assessment of how the federal government has managed the pandemic. Views of how President Donald Trump is handling the crisis are split: 49% somewhat or strongly approve of his of his response, versus 51% who somewhat or strongly disapprove. 

Congress gets poorer marks: 64% of respondents somewhat or strongly disapprove of how U.S. lawmakers have responded to coronavirus. Lawmakers have passed three emergency response bills, the most recent of which put $2 trillion into health-care aid, direct payments to individuals, small business loans and loans and grants to corporations. 

The vast majority of respondents — 84% — said they somewhat or strongly support the bill. Even so, 41% of likely voters answered that the legislation would benefit big corporations and Wall Street the most, versus 24% who said it would help small businesses and workers most. Sixteen percent responded that it would benefit both groups equally.

The vast majority of the relief package's provisions was overwhelmingly popular among swing-state voters. But 54% said they oppose the $500 billion fund for corporate relief, while 42% approved.

The CNBC/Change Research poll surveyed 2,448 likely voters online across the six states on Wednesday and Thursday, a day before the Labor Department's bleak March employment report. 

Tune into CNBC for more coverage of the survey. 

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