Updated May 7, 2020 - 11:40 am
CARSON CITY — Even as some elected officials and conservative groups push back against the state’s coronavirus shutdown, a majority of Nevadans give Gov. Steve Sisolak a passing grade for his management of the pandemic and support a measured approach for reopening the Silver State’s economy, a new statewide poll shows.
The Nevada Poll™, conducted for the Review-Journal and reviewjournal.com by WPA Intelligence, found 64 percent of Nevadans support Sisolak’s approach to the pandemic and his handling of the shutdown of nonessential businesses across the state, compared with 28 percent who disapprove.
The poll surveyed 500 likely voters in Nevada from May 2-5, with party demographics of the respondents mirroring Nevada’s voter registration breakdown of 33 percent Republican, 38 percent Democrat and 29 percent as nonpartisan or third-party voters. Its margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.
The poll was conducted after Sisolak announced the extension of his closure order to May 15 but before his Thursday announcement that the state’s first phase of reopening would occur before May 15.
Chris Wilson, CEO of WPA Intelligence, said the Nevada results were consistent with the support seen in other states for their respective governors.
“There’s support for the governor and almost a patriotism within the state about how the state can band together,” Wilson said.
The poll showed the wide-reaching economic impact the virus has had on Nevadans, with two-thirds saying that either themselves or someone they know has been financially affected by the pandemic, while 18 percent said they had been furloughed or laid off.
And voters who have been most affected financially are strongly supporting Sisolak. Of those who were laid off or furloughed, 68 percent said they supported Sisolak’s approach — which was higher than the approval ratings from those still working, students or retirees.
In a nearly direct inversion of Sisolak’s numbers, 61 percent of voters say they do not agree with the stance of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who for weeks has called on Sisolak to immediately reopen casinos on the Strip and other nonessential businesses, going so far as to call the shutdown “total insanity.”
Protesters in the minority
Since mid-April, protesters have taken to the state capital, government buildings and the Strip to rail against the restrictions Sisolak put in place in March and early April that forced nonessential businesses to close, shut down in-person church services and ordered Nevadans to stay home as much as possible in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But those protesters are the vocal minority, according to the Nevada Poll™.
Just 22 percent of Nevadans want the governor’s restrictions to be lifted immediately, while 35 percent believe they should run through the end of May. An additional 13 percent want those restrictions in place through the end of summer, while 4 percent think the restrictions should stay through fall.
And 14 percent of Nevadans said they don’t want the state’s restrictions lifted until a vaccine is developed. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease doctor, said in March that even an accelerated development of a vaccine for the virus could take a year to 18 months.
When it comes to reopening nonessential businesses, slightly more than half of respondents said they think it’s time for Nevada to reopen nonessential businesses and the economy. But the majority also want some social distancing restriction requirements in place for those businesses.
When given specific options to choose from, Nevadans again favored a careful approach rather than jumping straight back into the old normal. Nearly half, at 45 percent, said they think those businesses should reopen within a month but with social distancing requirements in place, while 13 percent said they should remain closed until the virus has passed completely. On the other side, 28 percent of voters said businesses should reopen with restrictions, while just 8 percent favored an immediate reopening without restrictions.
“You can see that there is a solid majority that believe that, by the end of May, this needs to end,” Wilson said, adding that the results show “support for a measured and thoughtful approach that acknowledges that there are still challenges.”
While businesses will eventually reopen, a major concern from an economic recovery standpoint is how long it will take before those businesses return to normal.
Uncomfortable about resumption
And Nevadans are split on returning to businesses such as casinos, movie theaters and restaurants once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, with 48 percent saying they would be uncomfortable going to those places compared with 42 percent who said they would feel comfortable.
There’s also very strong support for keeping social distancing requirements in place for some time, as 80 percent said they think those restrictions should remain until a vaccine is developed.
Specifically on returning to casinos, 17 percent of voters said they would go back immediately once restrictions are lifted; 22 percent they would return within a few weeks or a month, and 40 percent said they would return within a few months. But 21 percent said they may never return to a casino after the pandemic.
The Nevada Poll™ also showed vast support from parents for how the Clark County School District has handled distance education since the schools in the state closed in March. Nearly 80 percent of voters who said a child in their household attends a district school said they approved of the district’s approach, compared with just 15 percent who do not.
A margin that strong, Wilson said, “really speaks well to how the Clark County School District has handled themselves during this situation.”
More poll questions
Do you have a child/children in your household who attends a school in the Clark County School District?
Do you approve or disapprove of how the Clark County School District is carrying out distance learning?
How long would you support the current pandemic measures staying in place?
Agree or disagree that we should continue practicing social distancing until a vaccine and treatment can be developed for the novel coronavirus?
Regarding reopening non-essential businesses:
How soon will you start going out to eat at a restaurant again after statewide restrictions are lifted?
How soon will you start attending the movie theater again after statewide restrictions are lifted?
How soon will you start going to a casino again after statewide restrictions are lifted?
Have you or someone you know been affected financially because of the coronavirus pandemic?
Which of the following best describes your current employment situation due to the coronavirus pandemic?
Have you been tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Have you tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Highest level of formal education
Annual household income
Who did you vote for in 2016?
Race or ethnicity