Was it the worst summer ever? Despite coronavirus, most Americans say no

September 05, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC

It may not have been the best summer on record — between COVID-19, natural disasters, hardly any sports, social distancing, and a presidential election — but for most Americans, it actually wasn’t the “worst summer ever.”  

Just 16 percent of Americans describe their summer as a good one, while nearly three time that many call it a bad summer (or the worst ever). Democrats are 12 points more likely than Republicans to say that, and those who have more than a four-year college education are also more negative than those who do not. 

Nearly two-thirds of respondents in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll haven’t taken a summer vacation — including more than four in 10 of those who usually take one. Those who usually take a summer vacation, but haven’t had one this year, are especially grumpy. Two-thirds of them either call 2020 a bad summer (41%) or the worst ever (26%). 

However, the summer is not quite over for some. Labor Day, September 7 this year, marks the end of summer for a quarter of the public. More than a third choose September 21, when the season officially changes. For one in five, the summer is over when school starts. Those in the Northeast and Midwest are most likely to name Labor Day, and Northeasterners are most likely to name the beginning of school

Parents of children under the age of 18 are particularly likely to name the start of the school year as the end of summer. 

What will Americans do on Labor Day? Probably not much. Two in five are staying home, while about a quarter (22%) plan to do “nothing.” TV, chores, and yardwork are all mentioned as activity options. Only about a quarter will be seeing family and friends or attending a barbeque – perhaps not a surprise in the age of COVID-19.  

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll  

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between August 30 - September 1, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.5% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty