Majority of U.S. Voters Would Back a National Lockdown, Many Think Worst Yet to Come: Poll

A majority of Americans would back a national lockdown in the future to help curb the spread of coronavirus, according to an exclusive Newsweek poll, which also revealed that many fear the worst of the pandemic is still yet to come.

The survey of 2,500 registered U.S. voters found that more than half of people (52 percent) would be in favor of a nationwide shutdown to halt the disease. Just 24 percent said they would oppose or strongly oppose the imposition of another lockdown.

Respondents were evenly split on whether the country had turned the corner with the pandemic, with more than a third (38 percent) of people believing the virus was now under control and 37 percent saying exactly the opposite.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies conducted the poll for Newsweek between September 16 to 17. It has a 1.96 percent margin of error.

The findings come as the number of deaths in the U.S. nudges close to 200,000 with more than 6,676,000 confirmed cases, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.

Participants were asked where they felt the country was regarding to COVID-19. A third of people (33 percent) agreed the "worst is behind us," but a plurality of 42 percent said they felt the worst was yet to come.

The Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden fared best when people were asked which candidate would do the most to end the pandemic. Some 43 percent said Biden was best placed to contain the virus, while 32 percent favored President Donald Trump.

coronavirus us mask
A man wears a face mask as he check his phone in Times Square on March 22, 2020 in New York City. Joe Biden fared best when people were asked which presidential candidate would do the most to see an end to the pandemic. KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

The Newsweek survey found a majority of people still felt unsafe using public transport, going to the gym, attending a sports event, or going to a movie theater.

And there are few signs of an imminent recovery in demand for domestic and international air travel, with 65 percent of those polled saying they would feel unsafe taking a flight and 73 percent admitting they would feel uneasy taking a holiday or business trip abroad.

The poll also suggested there was high compliance with mask-wearing mandates, with 60 percent declaring they "always" wore a face covering when leaving their homes and a further 20 percent saying they did "most of the time."

According to the survey, the economy (33 percent) and healthcare (23 percent) were way out in front in terms of voter concerns ahead of the November ballot—well ahead of law and order (on 8 percent) which Trump has made a central plank of his campaign.

The president, however, tops Biden as the candidate considered best to lead a strong economic recovery, with 50 percent backing the Republican as "someone who can get the economy going again" compared with 44 percent for his Democratic rival.

Such concerns are likely to dominate in the run-up to November 3 with three quarters of people (75 percent) believing the economy will need time to recover from the coronavirus crisis versus a quarter who expect a quick bounceback.

The U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 31.7 percent in the second quarter of the year and millions of jobs were lost as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country.

While both the economy and jobs market have shown signs of recovery, the latest projections suggest bank leaders expect the U.S. economy to shrink by 3.5 percent this year.

A return to growth will not be helped by continued uncertainty about the prospect of a second wave, the current lack of a vaccine, and widespread fears about the health risks of returning to pre-COVID normality.