April 17, 2020

A Roadmap to Reopening America

As the economic and emotional toll of the crisis continues to mount, Americans are asking the urgent question, “When will this be over and how can we get back to our lives and go back to work safely?” GPG analyzed the public recovery plans from the federal and state governments, public health officials and the private sector. We’ve distilled our findings into some clear takeaways on what kind of operational thinking this moment calls for and how to turn down the noise and focus on the key players. There is a growing consensus on the foundations that need to be put in place–primarily tracking and tracing–and certain themes have come to the fore, like managing expectations, looking to state governments and giving up on the idea that recovery will be linear. But experts disagree on the details. For more, check out the full report.

When the Money’s Gone

Not much about 2020 has been typical. But with former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, we’re in somewhat of a post-primary, pre-general election lull normal for election years. So it’s certainly too early to tell how–and how much–the pandemic will affect election fundraising and ad spending. Obviously, campaigns will continue to spend. President Trump’s Super PAC just placed a $10 million ad buy in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Democratic Super PACs are spending too. But as we indicated yesterday, fundraising is more challenging than usual for campaigns right now. Sheltering in place makes holding high-dollar fundraisers like big dinners and events to attract wealthy donors difficult. And small-dollar donors are likely saving due to the economy or spending on necessities. Presidential campaigns will still have plenty to spend later this year, and at the moment, smaller campaign budgets are holding up. But if the pandemic continues to impact fundraising, down-ballot races may bear the brunt.

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Confidence in Times of Crisis

During times of crisis, U.S. presidents traditionally see a boost in approval ratings. Using Gallup data, GPG looked at past presidential ratings spikes. At the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, JFK’s approval rating stood at 61% but increased 13 points a month later. In October of 1979, President Jimmy Carter had an approval rating of just 31%. Following the U.S. embassy siege in Iran, Carter’s approval surged to 50% in early December and eventually hit a high of 58% in January 1980. More recently, President George H.W. Bush’s approval increased 31 points following the height of Operation Desert Storm. It didn’t drop below 50% until December of 1991. President George W. Bush had a 51% approval rating in the Gallup poll four days before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. By the end of September 2001, Bush’s approval hit 90%. So far, President Trump’s approval rating has increased–from 42% at the start of the year to 46% last week–but he hasn’t seen the same spike as his predecessors. Of course, this crisis is unprecedented in nature and far from over, so there’s plenty of room to grow.

Game, Set, Scratch

Wimbledon. North American International Auto Show. Cannes Lions. Tour de France. These are just a few of the most recent cancelations of annual global events. To date, more than 70 million event attendees have been forced to change their plans. Events as far out as October have been canceled due to uncertainty around what a return to normal could look like. Now, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said large gatherings may not resume in the city before 2021. And Mark Zuckerberg has announced Facebook is canceling events with more than 50 people through June 2021. Cancelations are likely to continue throughout the year as some of the recent plans to reopen the country suggest a vaccine would be necessary for Americans to feel comfortable attending an event.