The sentiment could also be a sign of the political challenges Democrats may face selling another giant relief package focused on infrastructure now being assembled in Congress, with support from Republican lawmakers again unlikely.
The new poll shows Democrats were almost twice as likely as Republicans to believe they would get a lot of help from the stimulus package, while just over one-third of Republicans and one-quarter of independents said they didn’t expect any benefit. Still, another 38 percent of Americans expected to receive at least some help, an opinion shared almost evenly among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
As the country’s vaccination campaign ramps up and more governors ease restrictions, the poll finds Americans are eager for a return to their pre-pandemic lives. Almost three-quarters of parents and guardians of school-age children said they want kids back in the classroom during the next school year, while only 13 percent said they preferred remote learning and 16 percent hoped for a mix.
And a slight majority of working adults across political parties said they would like to return to the workplace after the crisis ends, belying the notion that work-from-home arrangements necessitated by the pandemic have forever changed the employment landscape. Only 16 percent said they’d like to permanently work from home, while one in four hope to split time between home and their workplace.
The generally upbeat outlook bodes well for Biden, who would receive much of the credit if kids are widely back in school this fall and families can gather around the Thanksgiving table, Blendon said. Biden himself has promised Americans can enjoy some sense of normalcy by July 4 if the vaccination pace continues and Americans remain vigilant against the virus.
“They will benefit from the sense of optimism and relief,” Blendon said of the Biden administration.
But amid a growing debate about so-called vaccine passports that could clear inoculated Americans to return to the office, bars, stadiums and elsewhere, just over half said they supported employers mandating that their workers receive Covid shots. Larger shares of Americans supported requiring public school teachers to get vaccinated, including 76 percent of parents.
There was, however, a sharp partisan divide. Nearly 70 percent of Democrats supported employer vaccination requirements, compared to 43 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents. There were similarly large divides on mandating teacher vaccinations, which were favored by 80 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents. The Biden administration has yet to issue mandatory workplace safety rules that were anticipated in March and would, for instance, spell out requirements for mask wearing and for employers to develop a response if someone is exposed to the virus at work.
The findings track with other surveys showing that Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say they will not get vaccinated. State lawmakers around the country have debated prohibiting employers from issuing vaccine mandates, while Republican governors in Florida and Texas have barred vaccine passports in their states.
Blendon said he suspects people’s attitudes around vaccine mandates depends on the job. Teachers or nurses, he said, are essential and have lots of contact with the public. Attitudes around mandates might change if people were asked about jobs where employees rarely interact with others in person.
“People want to go places and they want to be protected,” he said. “They are not thinking of it from the employee’s point of view.”
The poll surveyed 1,008 adults from March. 16-21. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points for the full sample and plus or minus 9.4 percentage points for questions asked of parents or guardians of children in grades K-12.