The U.S. has reached 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Now experts are looking ahead, and the forecast for the fall and winter isn’t good.
WASHINGTON – Most Americans have a pessimistic view of the economy as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic ahead of the November election, a new survey finds.
The nearly two in three (64%) Americans who believe the economy is worse than a year ago is a slight decline from June, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. In June, that number was 73% of Americans.
After many states ordered nonessential businesses like restaurants and movie theaters to shut down in March to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the economy sank into its deepest recession since the Great Depression. The country saw record unemployment.
States have slowly begun reopening businesses over the past several months after rates of new cases of COVID-19 plateaued before ticking up again. The Labor Department said Thursday that more than 824,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week — a significant drop from the record high 6.2 million who filed first-time claims in early spring. Although the economy is rebounding, some economists warn that it’s slowing due to flare-ups of new cases of COVID-19 in certain areas.
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Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, said that over the past several weeks, Americans of all political affiliation have have become more optimistic about the economy. But the partisan divide has grown.
More than three in four (76%) Democrats say that the economy is worse than a year ago compared to the 50% of Republicans.
“It could be the case that people are accurately assessing that the economy is doing better … and they’re reacting to that it is still on par to along partisan lines,” Griffin said. “The other piece of it … as we enter election season, the extent to which these things start to be part of the motivators (for people voting) probably cranks up just a little bit more than usual.”
Although no country in the world has a gold standard, gold is still needed for the economy, especially now in the middle of the pandemic.
The discontent over the economy is not relegated to Americans in lower income brackets. The majority of Americans in all income brackets believe the economy is worse than a year, though that majority is smallest for those making over $125,000.
The majority of Americans also have pessimistic views in the direction the country is headed as protests continue across the nation calling on police reform and reckoning with systemic racism, according to the Nationscape Insights analysis, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY.
More than six in ten (65%) say that the country is on the wrong track, a slight drop from June where 69% of Americans said that. In February, half of Americans said it was on the wrong track.
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The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate designed to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The most recent poll was done Sept. 10 to Sept. 16, with 6,768 Americans surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
There is also a partisan divide between the Republicans and Democrats on the pessimistic views of the path the country is taking.
Among those who say the nation is on the wrong track, Democrats are at 81% while Republicans are at 45%.
Contributing: Charisse Jones
Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
President Trump denied downplaying the threat from coronavirus during a town hall hosted by ABC News, despite his views ‘to always play it down.’
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