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COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
1
An in-depth survey of policy influencers
MAY 2020
Navigating COVID-19
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
22
There is a lot of data out there about what voters
think about COVID-19.
But what do those directly influencing policy
decisions think?
• To what degree do they see COVID-19 as a
threat?
• How quickly should we reopen for business?
• What are the long-term impacts on the country?
GPG’s Research and Insights practice
conducted a survey of 514 policy influencers
nationwide from April 23 to 29, 2020.
• The grass-tops universe was built by
identifying individuals with high-level policy-
making or policy-influencing roles at the
federal, state, and local level.
• Sample highlights include: a U.S.
Representative, a former Assistant Cabinet
Secretary and other senior appointed
personnel, a Federal Agency State Director, an
Ambassador, State Representatives, State
Board of Education members, County
Executives, a County Water District Chair, and
a City Council member.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
3
The universe of policy influencers.
REGION
IMPACT LEVEL OF COVID-19
Number of cases per 100k people, by county.
PARTY ID
GOVERNMENT LEVEL
24%
West
17%
Northeast
23%
Midwest
36%
South
49%
High (>157)
17%
Medium (67-157)
33%
Low (<67)
33%
Republican
44%
Democrat
23%
Independent/Neither
143
Federal
168
State
173
Local
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
4
A house divided:
We’re in an environment where
both sides of the aisle are
operating on their own set of facts
and have vastly different priorities.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
5
Perceptions of coronavirus outbreak
Four-in-ten GOP policy influencers say COVID-19 has been blown out of
proportion; nearly all Democratic policy influencers see it as a serious threat.
Blown out of proportion
Serious threat
Independent/NeitherDemocrats Republicans
94%
72%
50%
20%
42%
2%
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
6
Most GOP policy influencers believe the government is overreaching and
overreacting in response to the crisis.
59%
30%
4%
33%
57%
92%
This crisis proves that government is more
important than ever when it comes to
protecting our society. We need to keep
listening to their guidance.
Government is overreaching and
overreacting to this crisis. Government
needs to get out of the way and let
America get back to work.
Independent/Neither
Democrats
Republicans
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
7
Nearly half of GOP policy influencers say that jurisdictions have all the
resources they need to fight the outbreak and protect residents.
To what extent do state and local governments / does your state / does your community have the
resources it needs to successfully fight COVID-19 and keep their residents safe?
(rated on a 1-10 scale)
10%
22%
27%
47%
28%
11%
Has all the resources it needs
(8-10)
Does not have nearly enough resources
(1-3)
Independent/Neither
Democrats
Republicans
Federal policy influencers are more skeptical. Only 17% believe states and local governments have what they need.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
8
GOP influencers rank reopening businesses as a top priority; Democrats rank it
as least important.
Republican policy influencers believe
reopening businesses to restart our
economy is a priority.
Democratic policy influencers
believe reopening
businesses is a priority.
7 in 10
Only 1 in 10
Both sides
prioritize support
for small business
owners.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
9
Democratic influencers set a high bar for when businesses should be allowed
to reopen.
8%
32%
30%
30%
47%
61%
60%
36%
61%
74%
72%
82%
86%
90%
When a vaccine for coronavirus is readily available to the public
When antibody testing is readily available
When all employees can be tested before returning to work
When we can successfully track and trace people who get sick
When a state's health system has sufficient capacity to cope with a 2nd
wave of coronavirus
When a state can prove that it's past the peak of its new coronavirus cases
When a state has sufficient PPE for all frontline workers who need it
In your view, should any of the following conditions have to happen for businesses to be allowed to reopen?
DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS
Where D’s &
R’s differ most
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
10
41% 37%
18%
67%
15%
11%
88%
8%
1%
May/June July/August September or later
GOP policy influencers are optimistic these conditions will be met by June
while Democrats are divided; few think it will take until September.
Using your best guess, when do you think states can meet the requirements for business to reopen?
DEMOCRATS INDEPENDENT/ NEITHER REPUBLICANS
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
11
Democrats disapprove of GA, TN, and SC reopening. GOP mostly approves.
Recently, the governors of states like Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have announced that they will begin
to reopen certain businesses like gyms, salons, and clothing stores. Do you approve or disapprove with the decision
to reopen certain businesses at this time?
APPROVE DISAPPROVE
21%
51%
90%
74%
42%
5%
Independent/Neither
Democrats
Republicans
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
12
A cohort within the GOP aligns more with Democratic policy influencers.
Democratic policy influencers show a unified front on key questions, but there
are signs of dissent within the Republican ranks.
• 33% of Republican policy influencers believe the
government is now more important than ever.
• 21% of Republican policy influencers disapprove of
states opening at this point.
• 30% of Republican policy influencers agree that
employees should need to be tested for businesses
to reopen.
These Republicans
tend to be women,
under 39 or over 65,
live in areas that may
have been more
impacted, and more
inclined to say COVID
is a serious threat.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
13
A house united:
Even in hyper-partisan times, policy
influencers do see eye to eye on
some important questions.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
14
Policy influencers on both sides of the aisle think governors – not the federal
government – should be driving the decision for when to reopen businesses.
Who should decide when businesses can reopen?
State
governors
The federal
government
Democrats Independent / Neither Republicans
86% 89% 92%
13% 9% 5%
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
15
Both parties agree that economic recovery will not be V-shaped in the U.S.,
but that we’ll get there eventually.
When it comes to the country’s economic future, which of the following do you think is mostly likely to happen?
The economy will
bounce back as quickly
as it declined
Democrats Independent / Neither Republicans
5%
77%
The economy will take
longer to recover than it
took to decline
The economy won’t
bounce back to where it
was before it declined
18%
17%
70%
12%
27%
65%
6%
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
16
Education and local budget shortfalls
are most important issues to address.
• Reopening K-12 and making sure children
haven’t fallen behind is rated as the most
important issue:
• The budget crises state and local governments
will face because of lost revenue and tax dollars
is rated as runner-up for most important issue:
55%
very important among Republicans
71%
very important among Democrats
75%
very important among Republicans
81%
very important among Democrats
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
17
Republican and Democratic policy influencers alike want the federal
government to step in when states face budget crises.
How important is it for the federal government to step in and provide financial help to state and local governments
that are becoming stretched too thin financially as a result of the crisis?
IMPORTANT NOT IMPORTANT
36%
11%
2%
63%
84%
98%
Independent/Neither
Democrats
Republicans
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
18
85%
Anxieties about the future run high on both sides; differences emerge around
economic disparity and investigations.
Important for government leaders to address over the next year
of Republicans agree that taking actions that infringe on people’s privacy sets a
dangerous precedent, and we shouldn’t do it, even in these difficult times.
D I R D - R
Restarting K-12 education 96% 90% 94% +2
Budget crises at the state and local level 97% 94% 87% +10
Increase in mental health issues 97% 88% 85% +12
Violations of civil liberties as a result of the outbreak 65% 76% 77% -12
Widening gaps when it comes to fast, reliable internet 78% 79% 58% +20
Scrutiny and investigation of elected officials’ response to the outbreak 79% 75% 48% +31
Widening economic disparities 86% 76% 45% +41
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
19
Implications
What do these insights mean for
advocacy strategies?
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
20
Organizations’ messages and actions need to be attuned to the differing
priorities of Democrats and Republicans - and seek common ground.
What matters to Democrats:
• Focused on the health system, getting more tests, and
protecting frontline workers.
• Getting back to work is the lowest of their priorities.
• High bar for reopening businesses.
• If reopening, businesses will have to meet expectations
on PPE, testing, and not overburdening the health
system.
What matters to Republicans:
• Focused on the health system and getting more tests.
• Less convinced reopening businesses poses a threat
and prioritize getting back to work as soon as possible.
• Will likely push back against a one-size-fits-all national
policy.
• More attuned to how actions may infringe on privacy and
civil liberties.
COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020
21
Talk about what matters to them, not what matters to you.
• Want to support small businesses
• Worry about the impact on and restarting K12
education
• Concerned about budget shortfalls
• Predict a long road to economic recovery rather
than a quick bounce-back
• Do not think we should be prioritizing economic
relief to large businesses
Even with intense
partisanship,
organizations can
speak to shared
policymaker priorities
and values.
What matters to both sides:
1025 F Street NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20004
202.337.0808 | GPG.COM3 Columbus Circle, Floor 18
New York, NY 10019
Email research@gpg.com for more insights.

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Report: Understanding Policy Influencers’ Priorities in a Post-COVID World

  • 1. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 1 An in-depth survey of policy influencers MAY 2020 Navigating COVID-19
  • 2. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 22 There is a lot of data out there about what voters think about COVID-19. But what do those directly influencing policy decisions think? • To what degree do they see COVID-19 as a threat? • How quickly should we reopen for business? • What are the long-term impacts on the country? GPG’s Research and Insights practice conducted a survey of 514 policy influencers nationwide from April 23 to 29, 2020. • The grass-tops universe was built by identifying individuals with high-level policy- making or policy-influencing roles at the federal, state, and local level. • Sample highlights include: a U.S. Representative, a former Assistant Cabinet Secretary and other senior appointed personnel, a Federal Agency State Director, an Ambassador, State Representatives, State Board of Education members, County Executives, a County Water District Chair, and a City Council member.
  • 3. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 3 The universe of policy influencers. REGION IMPACT LEVEL OF COVID-19 Number of cases per 100k people, by county. PARTY ID GOVERNMENT LEVEL 24% West 17% Northeast 23% Midwest 36% South 49% High (>157) 17% Medium (67-157) 33% Low (<67) 33% Republican 44% Democrat 23% Independent/Neither 143 Federal 168 State 173 Local
  • 4. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 4 A house divided: We’re in an environment where both sides of the aisle are operating on their own set of facts and have vastly different priorities.
  • 5. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 5 Perceptions of coronavirus outbreak Four-in-ten GOP policy influencers say COVID-19 has been blown out of proportion; nearly all Democratic policy influencers see it as a serious threat. Blown out of proportion Serious threat Independent/NeitherDemocrats Republicans 94% 72% 50% 20% 42% 2%
  • 6. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 6 Most GOP policy influencers believe the government is overreaching and overreacting in response to the crisis. 59% 30% 4% 33% 57% 92% This crisis proves that government is more important than ever when it comes to protecting our society. We need to keep listening to their guidance. Government is overreaching and overreacting to this crisis. Government needs to get out of the way and let America get back to work. Independent/Neither Democrats Republicans
  • 7. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 7 Nearly half of GOP policy influencers say that jurisdictions have all the resources they need to fight the outbreak and protect residents. To what extent do state and local governments / does your state / does your community have the resources it needs to successfully fight COVID-19 and keep their residents safe? (rated on a 1-10 scale) 10% 22% 27% 47% 28% 11% Has all the resources it needs (8-10) Does not have nearly enough resources (1-3) Independent/Neither Democrats Republicans Federal policy influencers are more skeptical. Only 17% believe states and local governments have what they need.
  • 8. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 8 GOP influencers rank reopening businesses as a top priority; Democrats rank it as least important. Republican policy influencers believe reopening businesses to restart our economy is a priority. Democratic policy influencers believe reopening businesses is a priority. 7 in 10 Only 1 in 10 Both sides prioritize support for small business owners.
  • 9. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 9 Democratic influencers set a high bar for when businesses should be allowed to reopen. 8% 32% 30% 30% 47% 61% 60% 36% 61% 74% 72% 82% 86% 90% When a vaccine for coronavirus is readily available to the public When antibody testing is readily available When all employees can be tested before returning to work When we can successfully track and trace people who get sick When a state's health system has sufficient capacity to cope with a 2nd wave of coronavirus When a state can prove that it's past the peak of its new coronavirus cases When a state has sufficient PPE for all frontline workers who need it In your view, should any of the following conditions have to happen for businesses to be allowed to reopen? DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS Where D’s & R’s differ most
  • 10. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 10 41% 37% 18% 67% 15% 11% 88% 8% 1% May/June July/August September or later GOP policy influencers are optimistic these conditions will be met by June while Democrats are divided; few think it will take until September. Using your best guess, when do you think states can meet the requirements for business to reopen? DEMOCRATS INDEPENDENT/ NEITHER REPUBLICANS
  • 11. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 11 Democrats disapprove of GA, TN, and SC reopening. GOP mostly approves. Recently, the governors of states like Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have announced that they will begin to reopen certain businesses like gyms, salons, and clothing stores. Do you approve or disapprove with the decision to reopen certain businesses at this time? APPROVE DISAPPROVE 21% 51% 90% 74% 42% 5% Independent/Neither Democrats Republicans
  • 12. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 12 A cohort within the GOP aligns more with Democratic policy influencers. Democratic policy influencers show a unified front on key questions, but there are signs of dissent within the Republican ranks. • 33% of Republican policy influencers believe the government is now more important than ever. • 21% of Republican policy influencers disapprove of states opening at this point. • 30% of Republican policy influencers agree that employees should need to be tested for businesses to reopen. These Republicans tend to be women, under 39 or over 65, live in areas that may have been more impacted, and more inclined to say COVID is a serious threat.
  • 13. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 13 A house united: Even in hyper-partisan times, policy influencers do see eye to eye on some important questions.
  • 14. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 14 Policy influencers on both sides of the aisle think governors – not the federal government – should be driving the decision for when to reopen businesses. Who should decide when businesses can reopen? State governors The federal government Democrats Independent / Neither Republicans 86% 89% 92% 13% 9% 5%
  • 15. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 15 Both parties agree that economic recovery will not be V-shaped in the U.S., but that we’ll get there eventually. When it comes to the country’s economic future, which of the following do you think is mostly likely to happen? The economy will bounce back as quickly as it declined Democrats Independent / Neither Republicans 5% 77% The economy will take longer to recover than it took to decline The economy won’t bounce back to where it was before it declined 18% 17% 70% 12% 27% 65% 6%
  • 16. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 16 Education and local budget shortfalls are most important issues to address. • Reopening K-12 and making sure children haven’t fallen behind is rated as the most important issue: • The budget crises state and local governments will face because of lost revenue and tax dollars is rated as runner-up for most important issue: 55% very important among Republicans 71% very important among Democrats 75% very important among Republicans 81% very important among Democrats
  • 17. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 17 Republican and Democratic policy influencers alike want the federal government to step in when states face budget crises. How important is it for the federal government to step in and provide financial help to state and local governments that are becoming stretched too thin financially as a result of the crisis? IMPORTANT NOT IMPORTANT 36% 11% 2% 63% 84% 98% Independent/Neither Democrats Republicans
  • 18. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 18 85% Anxieties about the future run high on both sides; differences emerge around economic disparity and investigations. Important for government leaders to address over the next year of Republicans agree that taking actions that infringe on people’s privacy sets a dangerous precedent, and we shouldn’t do it, even in these difficult times. D I R D - R Restarting K-12 education 96% 90% 94% +2 Budget crises at the state and local level 97% 94% 87% +10 Increase in mental health issues 97% 88% 85% +12 Violations of civil liberties as a result of the outbreak 65% 76% 77% -12 Widening gaps when it comes to fast, reliable internet 78% 79% 58% +20 Scrutiny and investigation of elected officials’ response to the outbreak 79% 75% 48% +31 Widening economic disparities 86% 76% 45% +41
  • 19. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 19 Implications What do these insights mean for advocacy strategies?
  • 20. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 20 Organizations’ messages and actions need to be attuned to the differing priorities of Democrats and Republicans - and seek common ground. What matters to Democrats: • Focused on the health system, getting more tests, and protecting frontline workers. • Getting back to work is the lowest of their priorities. • High bar for reopening businesses. • If reopening, businesses will have to meet expectations on PPE, testing, and not overburdening the health system. What matters to Republicans: • Focused on the health system and getting more tests. • Less convinced reopening businesses poses a threat and prioritize getting back to work as soon as possible. • Will likely push back against a one-size-fits-all national policy. • More attuned to how actions may infringe on privacy and civil liberties.
  • 21. COVID-19: THE POLICY INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE MAY 2020 21 Talk about what matters to them, not what matters to you. • Want to support small businesses • Worry about the impact on and restarting K12 education • Concerned about budget shortfalls • Predict a long road to economic recovery rather than a quick bounce-back • Do not think we should be prioritizing economic relief to large businesses Even with intense partisanship, organizations can speak to shared policymaker priorities and values. What matters to both sides:
  • 22. 1025 F Street NW, 9th Floor Washington, DC 20004 202.337.0808 | GPG.COM3 Columbus Circle, Floor 18 New York, NY 10019 Email research@gpg.com for more insights.