Americans Find Substantial Common Ground on the Threat the Coronavirus Poses

Results from a Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos poll show majority are concerned about the economic impact, rather than personal impacts, of COVID-19 crisis

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
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Topline Findings


Washington, DC, April 3, 2020 -- According to a new Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos Hidden Common Ground Poll, Americans are aligned on the large threat that COVID-19 poses to the United States, the stock market and the global economy, as well as the steps the government should take to help businesses and people affected. Though Americans see the virus as less of a threat to them or to their community, they are using this time to rally around local businesses, neighbors, and their friends and family.


Detailed Findings


1. Americans see the coronavirus outbreak as a serious threat to the economy more than to their personal lives:

  • Three quarters or more believe the coronavirus crisis poses a very high or high threat to the global economy (78%), the United States as a whole, and the stock market (74% each).
  • Four in ten say the crisis poses a very high threat to the global economy and the United States (41% and 40%, respectively).
  • Two-thirds (65%) say the threat to them personally is moderate to low, and more than half (52%) believe it is a moderate to low threat to their communities overall.

Chart: threat posed by coronavirus

2. Communities are starting to come together in the face of the threat:

  • Americans are coming together to support local businesses (69%) and contacting friends and family more than they usually do (66%).
  • More than a quarter of Americans (28%) have donated money, supplies or time to help people in their community and 55% also say they are likely to donate in the next two weeks.
  • Nearly half (48%) have checked in on elderly or sick neighbors.

Chart: how communities are coming together during crisis

3. Americans want to see businesses receive adequate support during this crisis period

  • There is strong support for the federal government providing businesses with no-interest loans so they can continue paying employees during the crisis (87%).
  • Four in five want to see direct cash payments to all Americans who need it and paid sick leave legislation (both 79%).
  • Three-quarters say the federal government should equally distribute aid to small, medium and large businesses (73%).


4. Despite much alignment, there are a few points of tension in how people view the federal government’s priorities and performance:

  • Nearly nine in ten would support free coronavirus testing for all who need it (89%) and majority support the federal government mandating that manufacturing, tech and other industries shift production towards making supplies to fight the virus (73%).
  • Many more Republicans (74%) than Democrats (33%) say the federal government is doing everything it can to address the coronavirus crisis.
  • A greater share of Republicans (29%) than Democrats (14%) report that the government’s main priority should be protecting the economy and avoiding a recession over preventing further spread of the virus.
  • Though, 83% agree that we should reboot the economy slowly and carefully to avoid spreading the virus and endangering lives.

Chart: political differences on opinion of government priority

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 27-30, 2020 on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. For this survey, a sample of 1,002 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 27-30, 2020, on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,002 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 403 Republicans, 407 Democrats, and 114 Independents.


The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 


Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,002, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).


The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Democrats, and plus or minus 10.5 percentage points for Independents.


For more information on this news release, please contact:


Chris Jackson

Vice President, US

Public Affairs

+1 202 420-2025


Kate Silverstein

Media Relations Specialist, US

Public Affairs

+1 718 755-8829   


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.


Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP


About The Hidden Common Ground Initiative

The Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on underappreciated and under-leveraged areas of agreement among the public on solutions to tough public problems, like health care and criminal justice. HCG 2020 is the election-year iteration of the initiative, spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, with The National Issues Forums (NIF), Ipsos, and the America Amplified: Election 2020 Public Media Collaborative. It applies the HCG mission to an array of election year issues via nonpartisan research, national and local journalism, community-based and online deliberative forums, and “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling and events. Hidden Common Ground is supported by a diverse group of foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as well as through the generosity of individual donors. In addition, the Kettering Foundation is a research partner of the initiative.


The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs