WASHINGTON – Over the past several weeks, the majority of Americans have had to alter their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Face masks have become part of most people's daily wardrobe. Social distancing restrictions are still being ordered in many of the states. And millions have lost their jobs, as well as their health insurance.
Despite the changes, the majority of Americans' long-held beliefs surrounding health care haven't changed, according to a new survey.
About half of Americans – 51% – said they agree that government-run health insurance should be provided to all Americans, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. That's just a 1 percentage point less than in February.
"The events themselves have not driven people to some radical new conclusions about whether the government should be providing certain types of services," said Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. "These are not attitudes that have suddenly changed overnight in response to political events that have occurred."
The new survey comes amid a public health crisis, where most of the United States was closed down for more than a month to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Over the past couple of months, more than 36 million people have sought jobless benefits.The Labor Department said Thursday that about 3 million Americans filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week.
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Half the states across the nation have also begun loosening social distancing restrictions over the past several weeks. Experts show that the curve showing the rate of new cases may be flattening, but they are estimating at least 60,000 more people will die from coronavirus by August.
The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate. Throughout the 2020 election cycle, the researchers aim to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates. This survey was conducted between April 29 and May 6, with 6,366 Americans surveyed. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
Another policy view that hasn't seen a lot of change? Subsidizing health insurance for lower-income people who are not receiving Medicare or Medicaid.
Sixty-three percent of Americans said that they agree with that – a 2 percentage-point drop from February.
However, a majority of Americans believe there should be more short-term aid for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis on Nationscape Insights, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA, and USA TODAY.
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Griffin noted that during the pandemic, Americans are "much more flexible in terms of thinking about what types of policies they might consider," even if their attitudes about basic policies haven't shifted much.
Seventy-nine percent of Americans strongly or somewhat support increasing spending on health insurance and food aid for the poor during the coronavirus pandemic. When broken down between Democrats and Republicans, the majority of both also support to increase spending.
The coronavirus pandemic also hasn't affected long-standing political norms for Republicans and Democrats, according to the survey.
Sixty-nine percent of Democrats said they agree with providing government-run health insurance to all Americans. In February, that number was at 68%. In terms of agreeing on subsidizing health insurance for lower income people who are not receiving Medicare or Medicaid, Democrats are at 78%, a 2 percentage point drop from February.
For Republicans, the numbers don't change drastically either. Thirty percent of Republicans agree to providing government-run health insurance to all Americans, compared with 33% in February. There was also a three-point drop from February to May among Republicans when asked if they agree on subsidizing health insurance for lower income people who are not receiving Medicare or Medicaid, from 53% to 50%.
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