Americans believe protests and large political rallies will lead to COVID-19 spikes

June 25, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC

Large rallies have been President Donald Trump’s favorite way of campaigning. But the COVID-19 pandemic may be keeping him from using them to his advantage. Americans worry about the safety of party conventions, and when asked in the Economist/YouGov Poll to evaluate the president’s rally in Tulsa last week, Americans were more likely to view it as a failure than as a success. 

Those who say they will be voting for Trump in November view his Tulsa rally in a more positive light. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of them call it a success, though only a third describe it as a “complete success.” 

Trump supporters favor resuming in-person campaign events, though by 48 percent to 31 percent the public overall does not. Saturday night’s BOK Center rally, which drew an estimated 6,200 to the 19,000 seat arena, may have added to concern about the country’s coronavirus woes.  

By more than two to one (61% to 24%), the public expects there will be an increase in COVID-19 infections because of the rally in Tulsa. Among Trump’s supporters, about one-third (36%) say there will be a rise in infections. Half (50%) believe there will not be an increase in coronavirus infections tied to the Tulsa rally. Republicans overall are evenly divided on this (43% vs 43%). 

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, other large-scale events that Americans think also could cause COVID-19 cases to jump — including the Black Lives Matters protests against police brutality and earlier protests against stay-at-home orders. Three in four believe those protests will result in increases.  

Aside from the large political rallies, Americans are looking ahead to party conventions. Americans of both parties want social distancing at the conventions. Though Republicans, unlike the public overall, believe that it will be safe to hold conventions in August, they still want social distancing rules to be enforced at the events, and by a two to one (55% to 28%) margin. The margin is wider among the public overall: 69 percent would require social distancing rules at the conventions, 16 percent would not. 

About half of Americans (51%) disapprove of how President Trump is handling the coronavirus this week. About two in five (39%) approve of how he has handled the pandemic response. The President may be counting a decrease in coronavirus cases, but Americans don’t expect either to happen. Most Americans — including 58% of Trump voters — expect an increase in cases as state economies reopen, something that is now seen in spiking numbers of cases in many states. 

Related: Biden leads Trump by 8 points in the latest Economist/YouGov trial heat

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

Image: Getty