01:14 - Source: CNN
Watch health care workers take a stand against protesters
CNN  — 

Americans protesting stay-at-home orders in different parts of the country are capturing plenty of attention, but polling data makes it clear they represent a minority viewpoint when it comes to how to best deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The less visible and vocal majority is in favor of the stay-at-home orders and the politicians implementing them.

There’s plenty of polling on stay-at-home orders, and they’re quite popular. A Quinnipiac University poll taken this month found that 81% of voters favored a national stay-at-home order. This included at least two-thirds of every demographic and political group. That’s similar to what a Fox News poll showed as well.

The majority supports stay-at-home orders even as they know their daily routines won’t be getting back to normal soon. Only 27% of Americans in an ABC News/Ipsos poll said they expected their routines to be back to normal by June 1. The majority said they expected by July 1 or later (61%) or haven’t had their daily routine changed (11%). The percentage who don’t think they’ll be back to their normal routine by July 1 has gone up since earlier this month.

You might think, therefore, Americans are aching for the government to lift the stay-at-home orders, but most are more fearful that the stay-at-home orders will be lifted too soon than not soon enough. In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 66% of Americans were more worried that restrictions would be lifted too soon compared to the 32% who said not soon enough. A majority of every demographic (gender, income and ethnic) group as well as a majority of Democrats and Republicans were in the too-soon than not-soon-enough camp.

Now, it’s not as if economic concerns are not at the tops of people’s minds as well. A near majority (48%) in a Gallup poll were at least somewhat concerned about severe financial hardship caused by current disruptions to the economy. These fears are outweighed, however, by health concerns.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 58% of voters were more worried that restrictions would be removed too early and lives would be lost compared to 32% who were more worried that restrictions would be changed too slowly and too many jobs would be lost.

You can see the popularity of the stay-at-home orders on the ground in the states implementing them. Consider the governors of four states bordering the Great Lakes: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All of these states have stay-at-home orders, and there have been protests of their governors’ actions in recent days.

The governors in all four states have an approval rating for their handling of coronavirus of at least 65% in the average poll. On average, it’s 71%. President Donald Trump’s approval rating for coronavirus in the average of these four states is a mere 52% by comparison.

Perhaps, it’s not surprising then that the protest crowds have generally been quite small. In Maryland, the deputy communications director for the governor said there were more media inquiries about the protests than the number of protesters themselves. That jibes with some early polling that suggests the protesters are about as unpopular as the cause they support.

None of this guarantees the stay-at-home orders will stay popular in the future. If the economy worsens or people’s cabin fever worsens, these numbers may change. Further, if Republican leaders move against stay-at-home orders en masse, then Republicans in the electorate may follow. A majority would likely still support the stay-at-home measures, though the gap would shrink.

But for this moment, there’s nothing to suggest that these protesters speak for anything close to a majority.