Nearly 70 Percent of Voters Back Limits to Public Activities Amid Protests

Over a fifth say people should be able to move freely, even if the activities are nonessential, as pandemic continues
Hundreds gather to protest Washington’s stay-at-home order at the Capitol building in Olympia on April 19, 2020. A new Morning Consult survey found that 69 percent of registered voters said people should be prohibited from moving freely outside for social, recreational or work-related activities unless they are essential. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
April 20, 2020 at 2:39 pm UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Democrats are mostly likely (85%) to support restrictions on nonessential public activities.

  • 56% of Republicans support limiting public activities, while about a third (32%) support allowing nonessential activities.

Over the weekend, protesters gathered at several state capitals to voice their opposition to stay-at-home orders and the continued closure of nonessential businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The protests received a lot of attention in the news and on social media, but a new survey indicates most voters are not on board with lifting social and economic restrictions just yet.

Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) registered voters said people should be prohibited from moving freely outside for social, recreational or work-related activities unless they are essential, according to the Morning Consult survey, while 21 percent said people should be permitted to engage in these activities regardless of whether they are essential. 

The poll was conducted April 17-19, 2020, among 1,995 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

The protests against stay-at-home orders and business closures come as states and the federal government continue to consider options to reopen the economy. Last week, President Donald Trump laid out a plan that provides governors with guidance on how to reopen certain businesses, recreational venues and other institutions in three phases. While most states have enforced stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on nonessential businesses, the dates vary for when these guidelines expire. In most cases, governors are still debating whether to extend the deadlines.

The coronavirus-related restrictions on socialization and businesses have bipartisan support, with 85 percent of Democrats, as well as 56 percent of GOP voters and 63 percent of independents, saying people’s movements should be limited. Republicans were more likely to say people should be allowed to move freely outside -- at 32 percent -- compared to Democrats (9 percent) and independents (21 percent).

A headshot photograph of Brian Yermal Jr.
Brian Yermal Jr.
Research Editor

Brian Yermal is a research editor on the Industry Intelligence team, where he edits the team’s email newsletters, written analysis and reports. Brian previously worked as a copy editor at the Altoona Mirror newspaper in central Pennsylvania. He graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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