A new CBS News poll shows that Americans' views of the economy have plummeted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but many are optimistic about its ability to rebound. CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster notes 27% of respondents said the economy is in good shape, while 61% said it is in bad shape. In December, 59% of Americans said the economy was in good shape, while just under a third said it was in bad shape.
Despite those feelings about the current state of the economy, 58% of Americans are optimistic about the U.S. economy's ability to quickly recover, while 42% are pessimistic. There are partisan divides over that question, though. Eighty percent of Republicans are optimistic about a quick recovery, compared to just 44% of Democrats. Fifty-six percent of independents are optimistic about a speedy recovery. Among those who work full time or part time, 28% of respondents said they were very concerned about losing their job or having reduced work hours, and 26% said they were somewhat concerned about that. Twenty-three percent said they were not very concerned about job loss or reduced work hours, and 15% said they were not at all concerned.
A new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows how staggering jobless claims could be when the Labor Department reports last week's initial unemployment insurance claims on Thursday. The EPI model, which was released on Tuesday, projects that 3.4 million Americans filed new unemployment insurance claims for the week ending March 21. That would shatter the record for claims in a single week, which has been published since 1967. The highest number of claims in a single week was 695,000 in the beginning of October 1982, during a recession. The highest weekly number during the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis was 665,000 claims in March of 2009. The EPI analysis says that 3.4 million Americans moving from employment to unemployment would mean a rise in the unemployment rate from 3.5% to 5.5% in a single week.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Last week Joe Biden addressed the public on camera for only six minutes. Today he sat for three long-form television interviews from his new basement studio. Biden mostly focused on how the elements of his COVID-19 response plan could be used now by the Trump administration, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson writes. Biden told "The View" he tries not to directly criticize the president, preferring to cite his disagreements and not calling him a liar. (Even though he said last week Trump lied about Americans getting COVID tests if they want one.) "I mean, what is he talking about?" Biden responded with suspicion on CNN about the president's insistence today that he hopes to have the economy up and running by Easter. For immediate relief, Biden floated on MSNBC the idea that the U.S. could forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for individuals "up to their ears" in debt.
Now, the former vice president's days start with two briefings on the virus response and the economy, Biden said on ABC, and he is also focusing on trimming the list of 12 to 15 women he's considering for vice president, if and when he officially clinches the Democratic nomination.
During his third interview of the day, Biden on MSNBC was asked about discrimination against Asian-Americans and how the president tweeted he won't stand for the hate. Biden admitted he was "happy" the president said he wasn't going to put up with the xenophobia "no matter how he got there." Biden also compared the president to a "yo-yo" because "all of a sudden" Trump is now "tough on China" and "softening his xenophobia." Soon after he made the comparison, Biden said he regretted his phrasing.
BY THE NUMBERS
According to a new CBS News poll, most Americans see a months-long pandemic fight ahead, notes CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. The poll found that 53% of Americans think President Trump is doing a good job handling the outbreak, and 54% are optimistic about his administration's ability to handle it from here. However, for information about the virus, fewer Americans (44%) trust President Trump than they do medical professionals (88%), the CDC (82%), family and friends (73%) and governors (66%.) The breakdown in trust of the president is especially partisan. A large majority of Republicans (90%) trust the president for accurate information and just 14% of Democrats rely on him for the same information. The partisan divide is also notable for trust of the national media for information. According to the poll, 72% of Democrats trust the national media while only 13% of Republicans do.
BIDEN V. TRUMP
A new poll shows it's a tight head-to-head matchup race between former Vice President Joe Biden and Donald Trump. According to the latest Monmouth University Poll, CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says Biden leads Trump 48% to 45% among registered voters. That same poll found Biden, who is the frontrunner to become the democratic presidential nominee, has 89% of support from Democratic voters, while Trump has the support of 90% of Republican voters. Independent voters are currently split between Trump's 45% and Biden's 44%. Breaking it down further, Biden has a larger edge among voters in the swing counties across the country. Looking at approximately 300 so-called swing counties where the margin of victory was less than ten points for either candidate in 2016, the Monmouth polling found 50% back Biden compared with 41% who support Trump. In 2016, Clinton won the cumulative vote in these counties by 1%.
At the same time, the polling finds Biden gets much of his support nationally from younger voters, voters of color, women and those with college degrees. Among voters under 35 years old, Biden leads Trump 56% to 34%. Among voters of color, he leads Trump 66% to 25%. Among women overall, Biden leads Trump 53% to 40% including overwhelming support among women of color 77% to 14% and support among white women with a college degree 63% to 33%. Trump gets much of his support among white voters overall, leading Biden 56% to 38%. He also leads among men overall 50% to 40% and voters ages 35 to 54, 53% to 40%. In terms of education, Trump leads among voters without a college degree 51% to 41%, while Biden leads among voters with a four-year degree 61% to 32%.
Meanwhile, Trump appears to be getting a bump in support amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. According to the latest Gallup poll, 49% of U.S. adults now approve of the job he is doing as president, up from 44% earlier this month. Trump has even seen slight boosts among Independents and Democrats from earlier this month, tying his best approval among both groups to date. Gallup suggests his response to the coronavirus may be behind the increases. Sixty percent of Americans approve overall his response to the pandemic, while 38% disapprove. That support breaks down further along party lines: 94% of Republicans approve of his response, compared to 60% of Independents, and 27% of Democrats.
Rhode Island and Delaware became the latest states to postpone presidential primaries due to coronavirus concerns. Both states had primaries originally scheduled for April 28. On Monday, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed the executive order directing the Board of Elections to take steps to hold that primary instead on June 2.
CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says the order also directs the Board of Elections to work with the secretary of state's office to determine a plan to hold a "predominately mail-ballot primary." The move comes after the Board of Elections voted to move its contest and sent the recommendation to the governor for approval. On Tuesday, Delaware Governor John Carney modified a state of emergency declaration in his state to also postpone the primary there to June 2. The two states now join eight other states and Puerto Rico which have already postponed primary contests. Wyoming, Hawaii and Alaska have also made changes by canceling in-person voting and moving exclusively to vote by mail. Several other states are also still considering moving their primaries in order to help keep people healthy amid the spread of coronavirus.
As Wisconsin marches ahead with its April 7 primary, CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says the state is reporting a large spike in absentee ballot requests compared to previous spring elections. The Wisconsin Election Commission says it received 554,116 absentee ballot requests as of Tuesday morning. That's more than double the number of absentee ballots issued for the 2016 primary, when 249,503 absentee ballots were sent to voters. Wisconsin is also working to get online voter registration back up and running after a federal court ordered last Friday that it needs to remain open until March 30. The state is still planning to offer in-person voting for its primary as well. On Monday, the Wisconsin Election Commission issued a call for more people to sign up as poll workers to replace the number of older workers who would be at risk from coronavirus.
CRY FOR HELP
Governors in some of the most affected states are continuing to call for more support from the White House, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. And now, with a coronavirus emergency package close to the goal line, they're also calling on Congress.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, spoke about how the "partisan behavior" in Congress "is simply not an option now." "Make a deal," Baker said Tuesday afternoon. "I think it's critical that these folks find a way to 'Yes,' and create some clarity and some certainty, not just for state government and local government but for the people of the country who are waiting to see the federal government lead on this issue." The Republican Governors Association also sent out a letter to Congressional leadership on Monday, calling for direct assistance for Governors and their states.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said while the White House has indicated to him that it will deliver more ventilators to the state, the state still needs the "full might of the federal government" and called for the use of the Defense Production Act to have private manufacturers build more healthcare equipment. "Of all the reasons that the federal government exists, this is the most important and the most basic. We are on a war-time footing right now, and we need an allocation of resources to the front lines that prioritizes where the battle is being waged most aggressively," he said.
In his presser, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, also called for the implementation of the Defense Production Act and said, "I'm not asking the federal government to help New York just to help New York — I'm asking for everyone. If we learn how to blunt the impact here and bend the curve here, we can help other states who are next." Currently, New York has the most COVID-19 cases out of any state, with about 25,000 cases.
Mr. Trump has spoken before about the working relationship he has had with Cuomo but criticized him in a Fox News Town Hall on Tuesday and claimed he had the chance to buy ventilators before. "He's supposed to be buying his own ventilators," Trump said. "We're going to help, but if you think about Governor Cuomo, we're building him four hospitals, we're building him four medical centers. We're working very, very hard for the people of New York." In his town hall, Trump set the goal of "reopening" the U.S. economy by Easter and lifting restrictions on businesses.
This is in contrast with the longer timeline public health officials have set for battling COVID-19 and adds to the conversation about balancing the needs of an economy with public safety. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said Monday night that America should "get back to work" and that those above 70 will "take care of ourselves." Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the state, praised the president's optimism in a call with reporters on Tuesday.
When asked about Trump's timeline, Pritzker said he doesn't think Trump "is taking into account the true damage that this will do to our country." He added, "If you don't have these restrictions on, the damage that would be done, the lives that would be lost, the overrunning of our healthcare system, would lead to real devastation. So I'm very, very concerned about what the President is saying."