A majority still supports Wisconsin’s shutdown, but opposition and uncertainty are growing

Posted on Categories Lubar Center, Marquette Law School Poll

During our late March survey, the Marquette Law Poll found remarkably strong and widespread support for the measures taken by state and local authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. That support was reiterated in the online free-response interviews we conducted as a supplement to our phone polling.

Our latest poll, fielded in early May, finds that a majority of Wisconsin registered voters still support the mandatory shutdown and social distancing measures taken thus far. However, dissent is growing. At the end of March 86 percent said it was appropriate to close schools and businesses and to restrict public gatherings. Now, 69 percent agree. In March, 76 percent approved of Tony Evers’ handling of the crisis. Now 64% do. Approval of Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak has fallen 7 points to 44 percent. From March to May the percent “very concerned” about the pandemic declined from 68 to 50 percent, and the number “somewhat concerned” fell from 31 to 25. Likewise, the share of respondents “very” or “somewhat” worried about personally experiencing COVID-19 fell from 70 percent to 50.

We asked respondents, “Which concerns you more regarding the lockdown and stay-at-home restrictions? That we open up too soon or that we don’t open up soon enough?” A majority, 56 percent, are more worried that we open up too soon. But a substantial minority, 40 percent, are more concerned that the shutdown lasts too long.

table showing response to question by age, income, and party ID

Older people tend to be more concerned about opening up too soon than middle-aged and younger Wisconsinites. Only twenty-seven percent of those 65 and older are worried we open open up soon enough compared with 45 percent of those ages 40-64 and 46 percent of those under 40.

Wealthier Wisconsinites are more worried about the shutdown lasting too long. This is the top worry for 52 percent of those making at least $75,000, compared with 34% of those making $40,000 to $74,000 and 30 percent of those making fewer than $40,000 last year.

The largest difference is between members of the two parties. Seventy percent of Republicans are more worried that we will stay shut down too long, compared with 40 percent of Independents, and 11 percent of Democrats. Conversely, 86 percent of Democrats are more worried that we will open up too soon, along with 55 percent of Independents, and 26 percent of Republicans.

Partisanship interacts with income and age in different ways. One in four Democrats under the age of 40 is more worried about the shutdown lasting too long, compared to just 6 percent of Democrats 65 or older. Similarly, older Republicans are more worried about opening up too soon (38 percent) than younger Republicans (24 percent).

Income shows a different trend. Among Democrats there is no difference in relative concern by income level. Over 80 percent of wealthy and low income Democrats alike are more afraid of opening up too soon. Among Republicans, though, there are striking differences. Eighty-two percent of Republicans from families making at least $75,000 annually are more worried about the shutdown lasting too long, and 16 percent are worried we will open up too soon. Low income Republicans are much more divided. Fifty-two percent of Republicans making less than $40,000 last year express more worry about the shutdown going on too long, but 41 percent are more concerned it will end too soon.

table showing responses to question by age and income among Demcorats and Republicans

Notice that our question asks “which concerns you more?” As is clear from our open-ended interviews, many Wisconsinites painfully feel both worries. They worry about how they will cope financially and emotionally with an elongated shutdown. And they fear what will happen when the shutdown is lifted. Here are some of their voices. You can read all 200 interviews at https://law.marquette.edu/poll/category/results-and-data/.

a woman in her 50s from Racine County, Independent

Most important problem COVID-19

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? My husband has to work from home and I miss my alone time. His company’s business has slowed a bit so I worry about our finances if WI and the country don’t open back up soon.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Encourage social distancing and healthy habits.

a woman in her 60s from Dodge County, Democrat

Most important problem Coronavirus

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Can’t go out to eat. Can’t go to church. Can’t go to work. Can’t do anything

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Get a vaccine and open up the economy

a woman in her 50s from Winnebago County, Republican

Most important problem Dictatorship from politicians who have no business to make rules about who can work, where we can and cannot go and broken promises of government assistance

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Put me out of work for 4 weeks

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Keep their nose out of our business

a woman in her 60s from Washington County, Democrat

Most important problem The lack of universal health care and minimum universal income.

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? I stay at home and only go out once a week for groceries and therapy. It leaves me feeling isolated more often. I am also much moare anxious about the health of my family and myself.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? They should be sending more months of stimulus checks to families. Canada is sending $2000/month for 4 months. We should be doing that instead of hurrying to reopen states and in that way saying we don’t care how many more people die.

a man in his 30s from Waukesha County, Independent

Most important problem Loss of Freedoms

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Destroyed the last fraction of faith in humanity, I had left.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Nothing. They should butt out of the lives of their slaves…citizens.

a man in his 50s from Kenosha County, Republican

Most important problem Coronavirus Covid 19

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Great Family time together but wife and kids in education field have been hit hardest

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Stay safe at home but I think it’s to open America again

a woman in her 20s from Milwaukee County, Independent

Most important problem Right now it is the corona virus. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Most of us are not working right now. I am staying with my parents until the situation gets better.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? It’s tough to say. They aren’t handling it as well as they should be, but also things such as money are time sensitive. They should (and should have) been putting more focus on lower/middle class, smaller businesses.

a woman in her 30s from Milwaukee County, Independent

Most important problem Covid-19

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? My husband is out of work and my children are home from school. Losing half our income isn’t ideal.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? I think they are taking to proper steps. Obviously, this is something that we have never dealt with and the government is learning along with the public. Something new appears everyday.

a woman in her 70s from Dodge County, Republican

Most important problem Virus 19

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Other than having to stay in not much. We are on social security so we still get our checks. My husband is on hospice so we weren’t going away much before. The only thing that has really changed is our family can’t visit and we miss that.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Watch how many new cases are happening and start opening up going with that. We live in a rural area and there aren’t any cases in our immediate area. I think some area’s like hospital should start doing non emergency cases to start getting people back to work.

a woman in her 20s from Shawano County, Republican

Most important problem Power and greed, we the people are constantly being lied to and manipulated by the people in power. All so they can fill their bank account even more! Our leaders are not “for the people” they are “for the money”!

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Yes, I was laid off, then receiving unemployment benefits, then forced to go back to work because my employer got the PPP. Now they are taking advantage of free money by holding it over their employees heads and making us come back. Now they’re paying me almost HALF of what I was making before CV-19 and $400 less a week than I would have been getting on unemployment.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? My opinion changes daily of this virus because, again, we are constantly being lied to. We don’t know the actual truth so it’s very hard to say. Maybe open up but keep at-risk home?

a man in his 30s from Waukesha County, Democrat

Most important problem economy

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? lower salaries & finances

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? i have no idea; everything they are doing is going to hurt a lot of people financially

a woman in her 20s from Walworth County, Democrat

Most important problem The COVID19 pandemic and its management

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? My father and mother were laid off, and I have been working in a very different environment since I’m employed at a nursing home.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? I think that both public safety and economics should be taken into account. Businesses should be open but with some restrictions.

a man in his 50s from Green Bay region, Leans Democrat

Most important problem Currently, the most important issue is the response to the coronavirus/COVID-19. Tens of thousands of people are dying. The country must rally to fight this horrible illness and the government must make its decisions and lead the country based on science

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? I needed to have the test. Due to other conditions I have, I was presumed positive for the virus. Due to that, I was in isolation, in the hospital for 4 days.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Continue to enforce physical distancing and stay-at-home policies. If we relax things too soon, it will result in higher infection and death rates

a woman in her 20s from Jefferson County, Democrat

Most important problem Definitely the COVID-19 virus

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? I am currently unemployed and struggling financially and emotionally. My mom is very depressed and laid off.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? I sure don’t have all of the answers, but nothing has been enforced and people are not serious about social distancing.

a man in his 50s from Outagamie County, Republican

Most important problem economic and health disaster of Covid

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? yes, we had to close a business down

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? give clearer instructions on how and when business can open

a man in his 30s from Winnebago County, Republican

Most important problem The covid19 pandemic and getting our country back to normal.

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Not being able to see friends and family. Both our jobs are essential so that isn’t much of a change but changing what we like to do everyday has been hard. Also home schooling is a challenge.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? I think they are doing a fine job. Everybody needs to be patient with social distancing or this could all start over again.

a woman in her 20s from Waukesha County, Lean Democrat

Most important problem There are many, especially in times right now but I think unemployment and helping those who have been laid off etc. The process and time needs to be revised.

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Our hours have been shortened that we are open, so therefore mine have been too, so I am losing hours and pay.

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? Always easier said then done, but another stimulus check would be really helpful. Or waiving student loans. As for re-opening businesses, restaurants etc. I feel no matter what is done, people are going to be upset. There will be consequences no matter what, so it’s a difficult situation for sure.

a woman in her 30s from Milwaukee County, Republican

Most important problem COVID-19

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? Not able to work so money is getting tight. Husband is essential but due to me being a high risk person has been instructed to stay home as well

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? I have no Idea…I think the decisions being made are just and understandable. It may be hard, but like the Spanish Flu it is important that we do what we can to stop the spread. If that means staying at home and social distancing then I think it is the right decision. I do understand it is a hit to us and the economy but I would rather be alive then dead

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