Facebook Twitter

Optimism toward the future of COVID-19 pandemic is at an all-time high

42% of Americans believe the worst is behind us

SHARE Optimism toward the future of COVID-19 pandemic is at an all-time high
A person prepares a COVID-19 vaccination at the Canyons School District’s final COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Mount Jordan Middle School in Sandy on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

A person prepares a COVID-19 vaccination at the Canyons School District’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Mount Jordan Middle School in Sandy on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Forty-two percent of poll respondents now believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us and just 27% believe it is still to come, writes Scott Rasmussen.

Annie Barker, Deseret News

This past weekend, I asked a series of polling questions about the pandemic. Some of them I’ve asked just about every week for a year. Forty-two percent (42%) now believe the worst is behind us and just 27% believe it is still to come. That’s the most optimistic assessment yet. 

But this week I added a few new questions to the mix, exploring a different aspect of what the world has endured for more than a year. It turns out that 31% of voters say that the coronavirus pandemic created some positive benefits in their life. Sixty-one percent (61%) can’t think of any positive benefits while 8% are not sure.

Most private sector workers (58%) and retirees (72%) couldn’t think of any positive benefits in their life. However, among government employees, 48% remembered some positive benefits while 45% could not.

But the broad category of government employees covers many types of jobs. It includes everything from career bureaucrats like Dr. Anthony Fauci to first responders and teachers. Looking deeper into the data reveals a significant distinction. Those who work at a school or college are far more likely than other government employees to report positive benefits from the pandemic.

By a 60% to 36% margin, those who work in education report positive benefits. Among all other government employees, the results are similar to the population at large: 35% remember positive benefits while 53% do not. This fact may help explain why many teachers are reluctant for schools to resume in-person learning.

On a separate topic, 39% of voters say they were glad to use COVID-19 as an excuse for avoiding social activities that they didn’t want to attend. Forty-seven percent (47%) of Democrats held this view along with just 27% of Republicans. Urban voters were somewhat more likely to express this view than those who live in the suburbs or rural areas.

When we asked people to describe the events they were most pleased to miss, many cited weddings, reunions, family get-togethers and holiday gatherings. Business-focused social events and school activities were also mentioned. One particularly blunt respondent said they used COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid “any event I deem useless or pointless.” Another said that being an introvert, this excuse provided a great sense of relief.

Does this mean Americans will be pruning their social calendars when the pandemic is over? Probably not. Thinking about when life returns to some sense of normal, just 19% said they will likely attend fewer social events than they did before the pandemic. Twenty-nine percent (29%) expect to do more socializing and 47% expect it won’t be all that different.

Of course, it’s difficult to know what will really happen. A year ago, most Americans believed the lockdowns would be over within just a couple of months — by Memorial Day 2020. Instead, our lives and our nation have already changed in ways we don’t fully recognize or appreciate. And the pandemic will almost certainly be seen as a major turning point in our nation’s history and the lives of most Americans.

Scott Rasmussen is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. He is the author of “The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”