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Californians unsure whether businesses should open but certain they should follow the rules

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Californians are divided regarding opening of businesses, even as social distancing and other health recommendations are followed: 43% believe it is not the time to allow businesses to operate at full capacity while 38% believe that the time has come.

Almost all demographic groups are divided on this issue - there is only a few where a majority leans one way or other, most notably Republicans where 61% support businesses operating at full capacity. On the other end, 52% of Democrats and those who never shop at Walmart, 54% of Californians with household income over $150,000, 51% of small city residents and suburban females, and 50% of Californians over 65 are against businesses operating at full capacity even while following CDC health recommendations.

The interplay between generation and party affiliation is especially unusual. Older voters tend to be more Republican and Republicans are the single most pro-opening demographic subgroup; however, in this case younger voters are significantly more likely to support return to business as close-to-usual (43% of those aged 18-29 and 46% of those aged 30-49 support businesses operating at full capacity, compared to only 28% of those over 65) than are older voters, creating an unusual dynamic close to November elections. Are older voters going to vote Republican in the same numbers knowing that Republicans are more likely to push for return to normal? And are younger voters going to be motivated to show up and vote for a party knowing that Democrats are more likely to prevent them from going back to their old life?

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Though Californians are close to equally divided when it comes to whether businesses should return to operating at full capacity, they are much more united in their attitudes toward local businesses that open up without being officially allowed to do so. Thus, only 30% say they are at least somewhat more likely to shop at businesses that open before being officially allowed, while 53% say they are at least somewhat less likely to do so.

Consistent with the previously observed pattern where older Californians are less likely to say that businesses should operate at full capacity, here, too, older generations are more punitive. Thus, among Californians over 65, 67% say they are less likely to shop at businesses that open up early without permission, while only 18% say they are more likely to do so. In contrast, among 18-29 year-olds, 45% say they are less likely to shop at such businesses while 39% say they are more likely.

Once again, age works against partisanship in generating one's attitudes toward lockdowns as Republicans (50% more likely, 32% less likely) are one of the few groups that are, overall, more likely to patronize businesses that open before they are officially allowed to do so. Other such groups are conservatives (48% more likely, 32% less likely), weekly Walmart shoppers (48% more likely, 38% less likely), NASCAR fans (51% more likely, 36% less likely), protestant males (46% more likely, 39% less likely). All other groups are more likely not to patronize defiant businesses.

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Conclusion

Californians are divided regarding opening of businesses, even as social distancing and other health recommendations are followed: 43% believe it is not the time to allow businesses to operate at full capacity while 38% believe that the time has come. However, they are much more united in their attitudes toward local businesses that open up without being officially allowed to do so: only a third say they are more likely to shop at such businesses while half say that they are less likely to do so.

Lockdowns have put into motion an important and unusual interplay between age and party affiliation with possibly major consequences for the 2020 election. The issue is this: on one hand, older voters tend to be more Republican and Republicans are the single most pro-opening demographic subgroup; however, at the same time, perhaps due to their own vulnerability, older voters themselves are, age-wise consistently the most pro-lockdown subgroup in America.

Not only can this have major repercussions for 2020, but also for our understanding of politics. Self-interest and partisanship are the two most powerful determinants of political behavior. They often work together, but this time they are almost diametrically opposed. Young voters are relatively safe from the virus and want to get on with their lives, but the party they identify with is advocating ever higher standards for opening. Conversely, older voters - one of the most reliable Republican blocks - are most at risk of the virus that threatens to wreck the economy and endanger personal freedoms - an issue that many of them, being Republicans, most care about. These times of high uncertainty will, among many other things, provide us with new insights regarding this age old question.

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Zogby Analytics Poll Methodology
California Likely Voters
5/7/20 - 5/8/20

Zogby Analytics conducted an online survey of 809 likely voters in California.

Using internal and trusted interactive partner resources, thousands of adults were randomly invited to participate in this interactive survey. Each invitation is password coded and secure so that one respondent can only access the survey one time.

Using information based on census data, voter registration figures, CIA fact books and exit polls, we use complex weighting techniques to best represent the demographics of the population being surveyed. Weighted variables may include age, race, gender, region, party, education, and religion.

Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error for 809 is +/- 3.4 percentage points. This means that all other things being equal, the identical survey repeated will have results within the margin of error 95 times out of 100.

Subsets of the data have a larger margin of error than the whole data set. As a rule we do not rely on the validity of very small subsets of the data especially sets smaller than 50-75 respondents. At that subset we can make estimations based on the data, but in these cases the data is more qualitative than quantitative.

Additional factors can create error, such as question wording and question order.

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About Zogby Analytics:

Zogby Analytics is respected nationally and internationally for its opinion research capabilities. Since 1984, Zogby has empowered clients with powerful information and knowledge critical for making informed strategic decisions.

The firm conducts multi-phased opinion research engagements for banking and financial services institutions, insurance companies, hospitals and medical centers, retailers and developers, religious institutions, cultural organizations, colleges and universities, IT companies and Federal agencies. Zogby's dedication and commitment to excellence and accuracy are reflected in its state-of-the-art opinion research capabilities and objective analysis and consultation.

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