April 16, 2020

Money Talks

Conversation on Twitter about stimulus checks has increased as the U.S. government begins to send them to Americans, with 80 million people meant to receive one as of today. But for many, economic hardship remains an urgent concern. People worry their stimulus check won’t provide enough relief for the next month, let alone the remainder of the current crisis. Others tweet about not qualifying for a stimulus check but needing help to make ends meet — although in many cases, deposit glitches may be to blame. Parents, students and workers who have lost their jobs are especially vocal. Groceries, debt and housing payments are top of mind. But as the country continues to come together in times of need, people have also taken to Twitter to call on others to donate their stimulus checks if they are able.

For the Love of the Game

Before the current crisis, live sports were among the few television offerings to reliably draw high ratings. In the month since most sports leagues have suspended their seasons, large television audiences are looking for new content. Our analytics partners at BlueLabs looked at set top box data to see what sports-loving households are tuning into now:

  1. Sports Programming: Even without new games taking place, these households are still watching ESPN and other sports networks. NFL content in particular continues to drive a large audience, boding well for strong ratings during next week’s NFL Draft.
  2. News: Like most other Americans, sports fans are watching more news programming to track the latest developments with the virus. More than 50% of the sports fan households have watched FOX News or CNN.
  3. Ellen: These households are more likely to watch Ellen’s Game of Games (+25%) and Ellen’s daytime talk show (+20%) than the typical household.

These sports households consume more TV than the average cable subscriber, so we’re also seeing strong results among entertainment and movie channels like TNT, FX and TBS.

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Small Business Well Runs Dry

Today, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) officially ran out of money. While there’s bipartisan support in Congress to appropriate additional funding for PPP, roadblocks remain. Congressional Republicans and Democrats disagree on how big the package should be and whether to include additional support for other sectors. For the past week, Republicans have looked to pass an additional $250 billion for the program. But Democrats who want to attach emergency funding for hospitals and state and local governments have blocked them. We’ve seen movement in the past 24 hours, with negotiations commencing between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Congressional Democrats, but a deal remains elusive. We could see consensus soon – potentially as early as next week – as both sides continue to feel increased pressure. Making things more complicated: Both House and Senate leaders want to avoid bringing members back to Washington for votes. As a result, they’re looking to pass legislation through unanimous consent. But such votes must be done when the chamber is in session – and as of now the Senate will only be in pro-forma sessions on April 20, 23, 27 and 30.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

The retail politics hallmarks of kissing babies, shaking hands and canvassing door-to-door are over, at least for now. So what are campaigns to do if voters are afraid to touch campaign literature left on their doorstep or can’t afford to donate? As the pandemic keeps Americans indoors, organizations like the Center for American Women and Politics are coaching candidates at all levels of office on how to reach voters in the new distanced age. With live events, door knocking and direct mail out of the question, candidates are encouraged to rely on phone banks, virtual town halls, texting and social media to connect with voters. Experts are also advising them to build their credibility — and avoid sounding tone-deaf — by checking in on their communities, acknowledging anxieties and deemphasizing direct asks for support or donations.