NEW POLL: Americans say Congress should be able to telework during COVID19

March 30, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 30, 2020

Should Congress be able to telework? Americans overwhelmingly support Congress being able to vote “remotely” amid coronavirus pandemic.

  • 4 in 5 Americans (80%) support Members of Congress being able to vote “remotely” during the coronavirus pandemic, including 53% who “strongly support” this concept
  • Strong support exhibited across all major demographics including gender, age, party, and region; strongest support observed among those most impacted by coronavirus.
  • 40% say remote voting should be available to “all” Congressional lawmakers while 46% say it should only be for lawmakers “under extreme circumstances” such as quarantine

BACKGROUND: EXISTING RULES BLOCK CONGRESS FROM VOTING “REMOTELY”

The coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic has made the idea of teleworking a new normal for millions of Americans – but not for Members of Congress. In recent days, state legislatures across the country have adapted to the crisis with some states postponing sessions while others have opted to proceed with “remote” sessions.

However, remote voting is not currently an option for the U.S. Congress. Current congressional rules state that lawmakers must to be physically present in the chamber in order to vote.

A new survey of American adults released today by PSB Research examines attitudes towards the idea of “remote voting” and the U.S. Congress. This concept is highly relevant in the wake of the historic $2 trillion economic aid package passed on Friday, March 27.

Without the ability to vote remotely, legislators from across the country were forced to race back to the House of Representatives Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., to cast their votes after nearly 4 ½ hours of debate taking place amid “social distancing” practices.

NEW SURVEY SHOWS 80% SAY CONGRESS SHOULD BE ABLE TO VOTE “REMOTELY”

4 in 5 Americans (80%) say they “support Members of Congress being able to vote ‘remotely’ during the coronavirus pandemic,” according to a new poll conducted by PSB Research.

Do you support or oppose Members of Congress being able to vote “remotely” during the coronavirus pandemic?

American adults(%)
SUPPORT 80
OPPOSE 10
Strongly support 53
Somewhat support 27
Somewhat oppose 6
Strongly oppose 4
Don’t know / not sure 10

In a time of sharp divisions regarding a public health and economic crisis impacting the world, Americans across the board heavily support the concept of allowing Congress to vote remotely. 53% say they “strongly support” allowing on Congress to vote remotely; this intensity of support holds across all major demographics including gender, age, party, and region.

WHICH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SHOULD BE PERMITTED TO VOTE REMOTELY?

The overwhelming majority of Americans are open to the general concept of remote voting by Members of Congress, though opinions differ over on who in Congress should be able to.

2 in 5 Americans (40%) say remote voting should be “available as an option to all Members of Congress.” Meanwhile 46% say remote voting should “only [be] under extreme circumstances”, for example, legislators quarantined for health reasons during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans (9%) say they are uncertain or have no opinion, while only 5% say remote voting by Members of Congress should “not [be] allowed under any circumstances.”

Which comes closest to your view?

“Remote voting” by Members of Congress should be…

American adults (%)
Available as an option to all Members of Congress 40
Only allowed under extreme circumstances 46
Not allowed under any circumstances 5
Don’t know / not sure 9

Older Americans are more reluctant to make remote voting available for all lawmakers. 58% of those ages 55-64 as well as 64% of those age 65+ say remote voting should only be allowed “under extreme circumstances.”

By contrast, younger Americans are more likely to embrace the idea of allowing remote voting as an option available for all Members of Congress. 49% of those ages 35-54 say remote voting should available to “all” in Congress whereas 40% say it should only be an option only for those facing “extreme circumstances” such as medical quarantines. Worth mentioning, this demographic (age 35-54) is the most supportive of the general concept of allowing Members of Congress to vote remotely (84% overall support, including 57% “strongly” support).

NEARLY ALL AMERICANS IMPACTED BY CORONAVIRUS, 1 IN 4 (26%) “EXTREMELY”

One quarter of Americans (26%) say their life has been “extremely impacted” by the coronavirus. An additional 31% say their life has been “very impacted” and 29% say “somewhat impacted.” Just 9% say their life has been “only a little impacted” and only 5% say “not at all.”

Americans ages 35-54 are the most likely to say their lives have been “extremely impacted.” This age demographic represents a plurality of the US population and includes millions on the frontlines in fields such as healthcare, retail, delivery who face greater risk to expose to the coronavirus – as well as millions more who might be working remotely or recently unemployed. In addition, Americans ages 35-54 are often caring for family members such as elderly parents as well as their own children who might now be be schooling from home.

Americans who say their lives have been “extremely” impacted by the coronavirus are the most supportive of allowing Members of Congress to vote remotely (89% support, including 73% who “strongly support”). It is not surprising that three in five of those “extremely impacted” (60%) say that remote voting should be an option for “all” in Congress, given that so many in this age group have also been forced to adjust to a new normal which often includes teleworking.

Many Members of Congress have expressed support for remote voting and nearly 70 signed onto a March 23 letter sent to the House Rules Committee requesting “a temporary change to House Rules to allow remote voting by Members of the House during national emergencies, especially the current one involving COVID-19.”

“Americans are slowly adjusting to a new normal though we are not seeing the same from the U.S. Congress,” says Adam Rosenblatt, Vice President & Senior Strategist at PSB Research, which conducted this study of n=1,000 American adults. “In the face of a global pandemic, countless companies and millions of employees are now teleworking but for now it would seem that Congress prefers to operate the same way it has for over 200 years.”

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Complete Poll Results Available Here

Methodology:

PSB Research conducted online interviews among n=1,000 American adults age 18+ (nationwide) from March 26-27, 2020. The overall margin of error for this study is +/- 3.10% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups. Some percentages may add to more or less than 100% due to rounding.

About PSB Research:

PSB Research (psbresearch.com) is a global insights and analytics consultancy rooted in the science of public opinion, serving blue-chip corporate and political clients in over 200 countries. For over 40 years, PSB has provided actionable insights and counsel to help clients address their most complex challenges and win in highly competitive situations. PSB serves Fortune 100 corporations, governments and associations, and has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world. PSB is a member of the BCW Group of companies, which is a part of WPP (NYSE:WPP), a creative transformation company.

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