Politics & the Pandemic – Fall 2020 Survey of Southern California

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BY GARY RETTBERG, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION, UCR

A new survey conducted by the Southern California News Group (SCNG) and the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside (CSI-UCR) was released today. The survey was a representative sample of Southern Californians, and focused on the November election, political attitudes, and the impacts of the pandemic among other topics.

The survey was conducted between October 16th, 2020 and October 26th, 2020 and included Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles counties. Below are some of the key findings and analysis of this pre-election survey. For more detailed information on each question mentioned, please explore the appendix at the end of this blog.

The full survey results are available here.

KEY FINDINGS: While there were many interesting findings from this survey, we have only included a selection of top-line findings and crosstabs below. Each finding also has a more detailed section below, along with specific tables pulled from the survey in the appendix. 

  • COVID-19 Opinions
    • By party Democrats are far more likely to support wearing a mask in public than Republicans. Additionally, by race Black respondents were the most likely to support mask wearing in public. 
    • By race, Latinx and AAPI residents have the highest support for controlling the spread of COVID-19 even if it hurts the economy, with all other races being fairly equal. By party, Democrats (82%) are far more likely to be in favor of controlling the spread of COVID-19 even if it hurts the economy than both Republicans (49%) and independents (57%).
    • By race, Black and Latinx residents are the least likely to agree to take a FDA approved, free COVID-19 vaccine if one were available, with Whites and AAPIs being the most likely to take the vaccine.
    • Interestingly, a higher percentage of Republicans (53%) reported they would receive a COVID-19 vaccine than both Democrats (48%) and independents (42%). Independents were actually the most likely to say they would not get a vaccine.
    • In terms of race, Black (54%) and Latinx (56%) SoCal residents are the most likely to vote by mail. Whites (45%) are the least likely to vote by mail, and are the most likely to vote in person at a polling place. By party, independent voters (54%) are the most likely to vote by mail, followed by Democrats (52%), then Republicans at 43%. Republicans (41%) are significantly more likely to vote in person than Democrats (22%) in the upcoming election.
  • Elections & Politics
    • SoCal survey respondents buck the trend from national surveys that state Trump generally leads Biden on the economy. The opposite is true in Southern California and in each of the counties. Overall, 50% believe Biden would do a better job with the economy, vs. 33% in favor of Trump. By race, Black SoCal residents are much more likely to say Biden would handle the economy better at 65% vs. 43% of White residents. Black residents are the most supportive of Biden’s handling of the economy with just 15% saying Trump would do a better job. By party, support generally falls on party lines. For independents, Joe Biden has a slight lead at 38% vs. 32% for Trump.
    • Overall, 57% of respondents reported they were more likely to wear a mask in public after President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. In terms of race, the AAPI (66%) and Latinx (60%) communities were the most likely to increase mask wearing because of the president’s diagnosis. In terms of party, Democrats (69%) were the most likely to increase mask wearing, while Republicans were essentially split between more likely to wear a mask (45%) and no change (44%).  
    • When asked how concerned they were about President Trump refusing to step down from office if he loses the election, Democratic respondents (65%) were the most likely to be “very concerned.” While not surprising, 39% of Republicans and 57% of independents stated they were “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned.” A similar pattern emerges when respondents were asked how concerned they are about President Trump prematurely declaring victory in the election. In fact, while 21% of Republicans reported they were “very concerned” with President Trump prematurely declaring victory, slightly less of Republicans (20%) were concerned with Biden prematurely declaring victory as well. Independents are also much more likely to be concerned with President Trump prematurely declaring victory in the election. 
  • Protests & Policing 
    • The majority of Southern Californians say police departments are not doing enough to address issues of racial equity. This is true in each county that was analyzed as well. By race, Black residents (70%) are far more likely to say police departments are not doing enough; this percentage drops to 52% for White residents. White residents (37%) and AAPIs (46%) are most likely to say the police are doing “about right” on racial equity. By party, the difference is drastic with 69% of Democrats saying police departments are “not doing enough” and only 23% of Republicans agreeing. The majority of independents (65%) also agreed that police departments are not doing enough.

COVID-19 Opinion

WEARING A MASK – 

There is strong support for mask wearing in public across each county with San Bernardino County having the highest rates. By race, Black residents (86%) are significantly more likely to always wear a mask in public. Women are also more likely to always wear a mask. By party, Democrats are far more likely (87%) than Republicans (68%) to always wear a mask in public. Independent voters (73%) are also more likely than Republicans to always wear a mask. 

COVID-19 & THE ECONOMY-

There is strong majority support for controlling the spread of COVID-19, even if it harms the economy across each county. The highest support is in LA County (74%), with the lowest support in San Bernardino County (57%). By race, Latinx and AAPI residents have the highest support for controlling the spread even if it hurts the economy, with all other races being fairly equal. By party, Democrats(82%) are far more likely to be in favor of controlling the spread of COVID-19 even if it hurts the economy than both Republicans (49%) and independents (57%). Republicans are almost split on the decision 49% vs. 41% who said it’s important to restart the economy even if it hurts efforts to control the pandemic. 

COVID-19 VACCINE –

Respondents who would agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is high, but significantly lower in the IE than in OC and LA counties. By race, Black and Latino residents are the least likely to agree to take the vaccine, with Whites and AAPIs being the most likely. Black residents have the highest response rate for ‘not sure’ indicating more outreach and education needs to be done. Interestingly, women (40%) are significantly less likely to agree to take a COVID-19 vaccine than men (56%). Women are also less likely to get the flu vaccine this year. 

Interestingly, a higher percentage of Republicans (53%) reported they would receive a vaccine than both Democrats (48%) and independents (42%). Independents were actually the most likely to say they would not get a vaccine. This goes against conventional wisdom; the high level of Republican support may be due to the fact that the FDA is under Trump administration, and Trump has been saying that a vaccine is imminent. This might change after the election, if the parties diverge again.

Elections & Politics

VOTE BY MAIL – 

50% of Southern Californians said they plan to or already have voted by mail for the election on November 3rd (as of Oct. 26th). Reported vote by mail rates are higher in the IE than in LA and Orange County. In terms of race, Black (54%) and Latinx (56%) SoCal residents are the most likely to vote by mail. Whites (45%) are the least likely to vote by mail, and are the most likely to vote in person at a polling place. By party, independent voters are the most likely to vote by mail (54%), then Democrats (52%), followed by Republicans at 43%. Republicans (41%) are significantly more likely to vote in person than Democrats (22%). 

TRUMP & THE ECONOMY –

SoCal survey respondents buck the national trend that says Trump would handle the economy better, the opposite is true in SoCal and in each of the counties. Overall, 50% believe Biden would do a better job, vs. and just 33% in favor of Trump. The starkest disparity is in LA County with 55% for Biden vs. 27% for Trump. By race, Black SoCal residents are much more likely to say Biden would handle the economy better at 65% vs. 43% of White residents. Black residents are the most supportive of Biden handling the economy with just 15% saying Trump would do a better job. By party, support falls on party lines. For independents, Joe Biden has a slight lead with 38% for Biden vs. 32% for Trump. 

TRUMP & COVID-

57% of respondents reported they were more likely to wear a mask in public after President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. In terms of race, the AAPI (66%) and Latinx (60%) communities were the most likely to increase mask wearing because of the president’s diagnosis. In terms of party, Democrats (69%) were the most likely to increase masking wearing, while Republicans were essential split between more likely to wear a mask (45%) and no change (44%).  

ELECTION & OTHER POLITICAL CONCERNS-

When asked how concerned they were about President Trump refusing to step down from office if he loses the election, Democrats (65%) were the most likely to be “very concerned”. While not surprising, 39% of Republicans and 57% of independents stated they were “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned”. A similar pattern emerges when we asked how concerned you are about President Trump prematurely declaring victory in the election. In fact while 21% of Republicans reported they were “very concerned” with President Trump prematurely declaring victory, slightly less of Republicans (20%) were concerned with Biden prematurely declaring victory. Independents are also much more likely to be concerned with President Trump prematurely declaring victory in the election. 

Protests & Policing

A majority of Southern Californians say police departments are not doing enough to address issues of racial equity, this is true in each county as well. By race, Black residents (70%) are far more likely to say police departments are not doing enough; this percentage drops to 52% for White residents. White residents (37%) and AAPIs (46%) are the most likely to say the police are doing “about right” on racial equity. By gender, the data show that men (60%) are more likely to say police departments are “not doing enough” than (54%) women.  By party, the difference is drastic with 69% of Democrats saying police departments are “not doing enough” and only 23% of Republicans agreeing. The majority of independents (65%) also agreed the police are not doing enough. 

Appendix:

Listed below are relevant survey question data for further reference:

Wearing a mask –

COVID-19 & the Economy –

COVID-19 Vaccine-

Vote by Mail-

Trump & the Economy –

Trump & COVID-

Election Concerns-