Coronavirus concerns drop in 2020 swing states as Republican fears fall, CNBC/Change Research poll finds

Key Points
  • Concerns about the coronavirus are falling in key 2020 swing states, as Democrats have more serious worries about it than Republicans, according to a CNBC/Change Research poll. 
  • A much larger share of Republicans than Democrats in the battleground states think the coronavirus situation is getting better, the survey found. 
  • Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think the economy is in a recession, even though layoffs and furloughs have hit the two groups with a similar intensity. 
People protest against excessive quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 15, 2020.
Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | Getty Images

Fears about the coronavirus have fallen in key 2020 swing states as Republican worries about the pandemic slide, according to a new CNBC/Change Research survey. 

About two-thirds, or 68%, of likely voters in the election battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin said they have "very" or "somewhat" serious concerns about Covid-19, the States of Play poll found. The share of respondents with major worries about the pandemic dropped from 76% in mid-April. 

A partisan split appeared to drive the shift. Only 39% of Republicans said they had at least somewhat serious concerns about the coronavirus disease, down from 55% last month. At the same time, 97% of Democrats said they had significant worries, nearly identical to the 98% share in mid-April. 

The poll surveyed 3,544 likely voters across the six states from May 1 to 3, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points. 

The poll underscores how partisan views on and responses to the pandemic vary drastically. Many Republican governors have started the process of reopening their economies, while Democratic executives have generally moved more slowly to lift state shutdowns meant to slow Covid-19's spread. Republican senators and advisors to President Donald Trump, meanwhile, have largely pushed for a swifter return to normal life than Democratic lawmakers have.

Only 12% of Democratic voters responded that the effects of the coronavirus are starting to get better, versus 66% who said they are still getting worse. At the same time, 69% of likely GOP voters said things are starting to get better, while only 19% said they are getting worse. 

Party identification appeared to drive feelings about the economy, as well. Nine in 10 Democrats responded that they think the economy is "probably" or "definitely" in a recession. But only 40% of GOP likely voters said the same. 

Those splits carried over from the mid-April poll, even as similar shares of Democratic and Republican voters lose paychecks. More than a third, or 39%, of Democratic voters said they or a member of their household lost a job or were furloughed because of the coronavirus, versus 33% of Republicans, according to the May poll. 

The pandemic continues to spread in the U.S. It has now infected more than 1.1 million Americans, and led to at least 70,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The April government jobs report due Friday is expected to show an unemployment rate above 15%. 

Like last month, the poll found a close race between Trump and apparent Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the swing states. It found 48% of respondents would back the incumbent, versus 45% who would support the challenger. 

— Graphic by CNBC's John Schoen 

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.