Half of Americans believe we still haven’t reached the worst part of the pandemic

Jamie BallardData Journalist
December 08, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC

As 2020 draws to a close, many Americans believe that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to come.  

According to the latest Economist / YouGov poll, half (50%) of Americans believe the pandemic is going to get worse. About a quarter (23%) say we are currently in the worst part of it, while 16% say the worst part of the pandemic is behind us.  

Democrats, Republicans, and Independents hold largely differing views on this. Seven in 10 (70%) Democrats think the worst is yet to come, while fewer Independents (46%) and Republicans (26%) say the same.  

Republicans in particular are almost evenly split: as well as the 26% who think it will get worse still, 27% think we are currently in the worst part of the pandemic and an equal number (27%) believe that the worst has already come and gone.   

The percentage of Americans who believe the worst is yet to come has remained relatively steady over the past two months. The Economist/YouGov poll conducted on October 3 found that 42% believed the pandemic would get worse. The following week, this number increased slightly, to 47%. Since then, somewhere between 47% and 52% of Americans each week have expressed a belief that the road ahead will be even worse.  

With less than a month left until the end of the year, a plurality (43%) of Americans expect that the COVID-19 death toll for the year will be between 250,000 and 1 million Americans. Another 6% anticipate more than 1 million Americans will have died from COVID-19 by the end of 2020. As of December 7, there have been just over 282,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the US.  

See the toplines and crosstabs from the most recent Economist/YouGov Poll  

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between November 21 - 24, 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 3.2% for the overall sample.   

Image: Getty