State Policy Network
Three issues driving Americans’ votes
Polling conducted on October 14-15, 2020, shows the economy and healthcare are top factors in Americans’ 2020 voting choices.

If we take stock of Americans’ news interests, we can start to see the picture of what’s on people’s minds. Polling shows 59% of Americans are checking coronavirus news daily, 54% are reading up on the 2020 election, and 40% are tracking headlines about racial justice and unrest.

These issues are important crossroads for our country, and each one has a ripple effect on Americans’ daily lives. It makes sense that Americans care about what’s at stake. Still, this trend is worth a closer look: What else is driving Americans’ investment in these news topics?

The latest results from Heart+Mind Strategies’ coronavirus poll, conducted on October 14-15, lend more insight to Americans’ news consumption habits. We are tracking the headlines because these problems encompass a host of other issues affecting Americans’ well-being and peace of mind: health concerns, financial worries, school and work disruptions, and uncertainty over how changes in government will impact the next day’s plans, let alone the next month or year.

The top three factors determining Americans’ votes

Since March, healthcare and the economy have been the top two issues for Americans. Polling conducted on October 14-15, 2020, shows these issues remain strong factors in Americans’ voting choices, with the economy just slightly edging out healthcare.

Time to strike a balance?

More people agree that we should balance public health concerns with economic concerns (44%) than those who think we should focus solely on public health and deal with the economy later (41%).

At the beginning of the pandemic, that split was 38% to 51%. The difference started narrowing in April, and since the beginning of September, the majority has favored a balanced approach. 

The economy has people worried

Sixty-eight percent of Americans think the virus’s impact on the economy will last seven months or more. 

This impact has been deeply personal, affecting people’s day-to-day spending and savings. Forty-five percent of Americans have received government or private aid, 44% have delayed or reduced spending, and 30% have taken money out of or stopped putting money in savings.

Fewer people think the economy is in crisis now versus in May. Our polling data in May indicated 55% considered the US economy poor or in crisis. Last week, that number was 38%. Despite this improvement, Americans remain cautiously optimistic: 25% think the economy is just fair, and 37% say it’s excellent or good. Only 16% say it’s in crisis. 

The good news: Americans are open to market-oriented solutions

We saw good news out of the latest polling that encourages state think tanks to make the case for state-based, free-market policy solutions. As several other issues have come to the forefront for Americans, Heart+Mind Strategies asked Americans about several ideology-based proposals, and market-oriented solutions often resonated best with how Americans feel.

Jobs and the economy


Americans clearly want changes or replacement of the Affordable Care Act. 


About this polling

State Policy Network is working with Heart + Mind Strategies to track the American public’s opinions through this time of upheaval and change. This data was collected by Heart+Mind Strategies through an online survey conducted October 14-15, 2020 (n=1,002). It represents Wave 21 of the tracking survey, which began on March 18-19, 2020.

Organization: State Policy Network