Today, nearly 6 in 10 (57%) say they would not be comfortable going to the gym - showing little change from American sentiment in May when 83% said they're more likely to exercise at home post COVID-19 than go to a local gym. More from the #COVID19 tracker https://bit.ly/HarrisTrackerC-19
Featured in @chicagotribune our CEO Will Johnson dove into the future of events. 36% say they’d be comfortable driving to one in-person now & 54% if the convention site imposes risk-reducing requirements like face masks, temp checks & social distancing. http://ow.ly/4GwP50Bzcnk
How can we tell it’s an election year? In our exclusive poll with @FastCompany we found more than half (54%) are sharing more political memes on social media than they were a year ago, and one-fifth (21%) are sharing once a day or more often. https://www.fastcompany.com/90551488/why-do-people-share-political-memes-its-not-always-about-changing-anyones-point-of-view
Number of the week
39 percent: The share of 18-34 year-olds who strongly/somewhat agree that brands whose products are made in America are of a higher quality than those that aren't, according to new findings from Ad Age-The Harris Poll. The results come as Ford pushes a new campaign touting its U.S. manufacturing footprint. The automaker can take heart from the fact that 69 percent of those polled from all age groups strongly/somewhat agree that they prefer to purchase products that are made in America because it helps the U.S. economy—which seems to be at the heart of Ford’s message.
Read the full story at Ad Age.
Americans are increasingly worried about access to health care, and the upcoming presidential election isn’t doing much to quell those concerns.
According to a new Yahoo Finance/Harris Poll of 1,028 respondents conducted on Sept. 18, 65% of Americans — nearly 2 out of 3 — are more concerned about having access to affordable health insurance since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the U.S., the coronavirus has killed over 200,000 people and counting, making the country the worldwide leader in the death toll. As a result of the high number of cases, many states implemented stay-at-home orders in March, which took a drastic toll on the economy. Nearly 7 million jobs were lost, and not all have since been recovered. With the loss of jobs came, in many cases, a loss of employer-sponsored health care. Although many workers were able to obtain health care coverage through a special enrollment period — a key part of Obamacare — this hasn’t been the case for everyone.
With job losses continuing for many Americans, Dr. Katherine Baicker, dean of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, expects more health care coverage loss as well.
“I certainly expect substantial changes as people lose jobs,” Baicker told Yahoo Finance. “One of the challenges of our employment-based private insurance system is that when you lose your job, you're at risk of losing your insurance as well. So I think more people will go without insurance. And among the people who were insured, there will be a lot of movement across plans and types of plans.”
Baicker continued: “Some people who lose their employer-sponsored insurance end up uninsured, some end up on Medicaid, some end up on a spouse's plan, some end up on privately-purchased exchange plan. I think we're going to see a lot more movement across this land, so a lot less stable coverage and more people falling into the ranks of the uninsured.”
‘Over 20 million people who would lose their coverage’
Adding to these concerns is the possibility that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, could be overturned by the Supreme Court, a prospect made more apparent with the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which has left an opening for President Trump to appoint a nominee. Trump has made it clear his priority is repealing Obamacare, even though he hasn’t made public a replacement yet.
“There’s over 20 million people who would lose their coverage, and the health care system would be thrown into utter chaos because the implications of the ACA extend far beyond just the individual market,” Cynthia Cox, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Yahoo Finance. “Obviously, there’s so much more to this law that affects virtually every American. So the implications stretch far and wide in our health care system.”
A new survey from the Commonwealth Fund showed similar concerns about access and accessibility concerns. Likely voters stated that their main health issues when it came to choosing a candidate in the upcoming presidential election were the candidate’s ability to address public health needs and economic costs of COVID-19 (40%), likelihood to protect health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (39%), and likelihood to lower the cost of one’s health care (20%).
Protecting pre-existing conditions has been a major point of concern, particularly for Democrats worried that the repeal of Obamacare would remove these protections. Trump has stated that he would use an executive order to ensure these conditions remained protected, and Vice President Mike Pence has echoed the sentiment. But experts are still concerned.
“Striking down the Affordable Care Act... and taking away financing that has enabled states to provide health insurance to millions of people and enabled people with pre-existing conditions to access clinical coverage, that is going to take things away from people and return them to what the markets looked like prior to the Affordable Care Act,” Christen Linke Young, a fellow with the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution, told Yahoo Finance. Before the ACA was enacted in 2010, Young said, “if you didn’t get insurance from your job, you were pretty much out of luck. Even if you did get insurance from your job, that came with fewer protections than it does today.”
‘The election could play an even bigger role’
The Commonwealth Fund survey indicated that voters see former Vice President Joe Biden as more likely to address their health care concerns than Trump: 58% of likely voters said Biden had a stronger likelihood of protecting pre-existing conditions, versus 36% who said Trump; 56% said Biden was more likely to address COVID-related concerns, versus 39% who said Trump; and 53% said Biden was more likely to lower health care costs versus 37% who said Trump.
Health care spending has increased exponentially since 1970. According to datafrom the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), national health expenditures are projected to grow at an average rate of 5.5% a year between 2018 and 2027 and reach nearly $6 trillion by 2027.
The Yahoo Finance-Harris Poll survey found that 30% of respondents are paying more for their health care now than they did in 2017.
But the poll also found that Americans are divided on whether the results of the presidential election will play a role in their health care costs: 32% said it would have no impact, 36% said a slight impact, and 32% said a major impact.
The two candidates have different approaches to health care and lowering costs. Although Trump’s health care plan still isn’t clear yet, he has stated he wants to repeal Obamacare and increase price transparency, among other goals. Biden, meanwhile, wants to build upon the ACA.
“It means the election could play an ever bigger role in the state of the ACA because if the Court decides that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and it’s not separable from the ACA … then I think protections for pre-existing conditions and a number of other aspects of the ACA, if not the entire law, could be thrown out,” Cox said.
Read the full story at Yahoo Finance.
A new survey shows many Americans still do not view Gulf nations as allies after normalising their relations with Israel.
By Justin Martin & Krishna Sharma | Al Jazeera
Only half of Americans think Israel is an ally of the United States, and that number drops to 28 percent for the United Arab Emirates, 24 percent for Saudi Arabia, 18 percent for Qatar, and 14 percent for Palestine, according to a new survey of 2,059 adults in the US conducted on September 9-10.
While majorities or pluralities of Americans say these Middle Eastern countries are neutral towards the US, smaller percentages say they are enemies: 32 percent for Palestine, 31 percent for Saudi Arabia, 22 percent for Qatar, 20 percent for the UAE, and 16 percent for Israel – The word “country” is used flexibly, as Palestine is currently neither sovereign nor free.
The survey, which we – two academics at Northwestern University in Qatar – commissioned from The Harris Poll, has implications for the five countries, all eager to advance their regional interests by strengthening their ties with the US. The results also have implications for US President Donald Trump, who in the last stretch of his re-election campaign, is touting the normalisation agreements the UAE and Bahrain recently signed with Israel as major diplomatic breakthroughs – the data for the survey were collected soon after the UAE-Israel deal was announced, but before a deal between Bahrain and Israel was reported. Moreover, the survey serves as a report card for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE’s well-funded public relations and lobbying operations in the US vying for public support, auspicious policies and arms deals.
Middle Eastern countries seen as ‘neutral towards the US’
According to our data, despite still not being considered an “ally” by the majority of Americans, Saudi Arabia has had some success in improving its rating in the US in the past year.
In our survey, we presented the respondents with the specific question: “Do you consider each of the following an ally, an enemy, or neutral toward the United States?”, followed by the five countries listed in random order. In September 2019, the Harvard Harris Poll posed the same question to 2,009 registered American voters for a different set of countries that also included Saudi Arabia. In that poll, 41 percent of respondents said Saudi Arabia is an “enemy” of the US, compared with just 31 percent in our poll.
The 2019 Harvard Harris poll also asked about Russia and China, and 63 percent and 51 percent of respondents, respectively, said those nations are enemies of the US, so the five Middle Eastern countries fielded in our survey can take heart that their grades could be worse.
Nevertheless, there is still much room for improvement for all five countries, particularly given how many Americans said they perceive these countries as “neutral” towards the US.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans, for example, said Qatar is “neutral” towards the US, which is remarkable given the state has hosted a forward headquarters of US Central Command, the US’s largest military installation in the Middle East, for 17 years. Qatar is also hosting peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, with US representation attending.
Thirty-five percent of respondents said Israel is neutral towards the US, and 52 percent said the same of the UAE, 45 percent of Saudi Arabia, and 54 percent of Palestine.
Americans largely ambivalent towards the Gulf, Israel-Palestine
While all five countries claim to be friends of the US, their relationships with each other are complex. Israel has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for more than 70 years. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have since 2017 maintained a blockade against Qatar, partly because Qatar has a positive relationship with their main regional rival, Iran – though the UAE trades with Iran far more than Qatar does. Saudi Arabia and the UAE claim to support Palestinians’ struggle for statehood, but by moving to normalise their relations with Israel the two Gulf states also appear to tacitly endorse Israel’s occupation.
For its part, Qatar supports Palestine, possibly more so than any other Gulf country, and sends critical financial aid and supplies to Palestinians living under an Israeli blockade in Gaza. Qatar does not have full diplomatic relations with Israel, and said it will not take steps towards normalisation until the Palestinian conflict is resolved.
Israel is eager to establish diplomatic ties with Arab countries beyond Egypt and Jordan – with which it signed deals in 1979 and 1994, respectively – partly to strengthen its international standing, partly for financial gain, and partly to distract from its occupation of Palestine and the corruption scandals Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently facing.
Since taking office in 2016, the Trump administration repeatedly made moves in support of Israel, such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and putting forward a so-called “peace plan” that paves the way for the expansion of Israel’s settlements. It also unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, pleasing not only Israel but also Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Meanwhile, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi embarked on a campaign to malign Doha, which they view as supporting Iran, and increased their efforts to strengthen ties with Israel and the US.
After unconditionally supporting Washington in its endeavours in the Middle East and taking serious steps to normalise their relations with Israel – following its longtime ally, the UAE, Saudi Arabia is also expected to sign a normalisation deal with Israel in the near future, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi likely expected the American public’s support for them to increase.
As our survey demonstrated, however, Americans are still largely ambivalent about these countries. The American public’s tendency to focus on domestic rather than international affairs, coupled with the unprecedented public health crisis the country is currently going through, can explain this trend to a certain extent.
The fact that the highly publicised agreements the UAE and Bahrain recently signed with Israel were not really “peace” deals, and did not resolve any actual conflicts in the region, however, also likely contributed to American ambivalence about these countries.
Indeed, unlike Egypt and Jordan, the first two Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel, neither the UAE nor Bahrain has fought a single war with Israel. And the agreements the UAE and Bahrain signed with Israel, which focus on economic and security collaboration, do little to solve actual physical conflicts in the Middle East, such as Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the blockade against Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s brutal war on Yemen. In Haaretz, academic Marc Owen Jones noted that a key UAE motivation to sign an Israel “peace” deal was the opposite of peace: Getting advanced warplanes from the US.
In any case, the fact that Americans are ambivalent towards many of the countries surrounding Israel-Gulf normalisation may mean the highly publicised deals between Israel and Gulf nations will not much improve Trump’s approval ratings or his fortunes in the upcoming presidential election.
For Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE, and Qatar, the findings indicate that their own approval ratings in the US have room to grow beyond that of their regional rivals, just as the countries themselves often compete with one another in their own neighbourhood.
Read the full story at Al Jazeera.
Brokerage firms such as Robinhood Financial LLC, zero-commission trading, the surge in exchange-traded funds and the growth in fractional share ownership have all had a hand in luring a new generation of investors to the stock market in recent years. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the trends, as evidenced by the unnaturally high prices paid for shares of bankrupt Hertz Global Holdings Inc. or Tesla Inc.’s soaring stock price.
Now comes a new Yahoo Finance Harris poll that reveals other changes in the investing landscape that have far-reaching implications for both the government and companies. For one, more than half the racial gap in individual stock ownership has disappeared essentially overnight. Also, both younger and older Americans are now more likely to own stocks than those in their prime, middle-age asset accumulation years. More than one-third of those middle-aged investors have greatly reduced their stock holdings.
What does it mean? Of course, it could turn out to just be a millennial fad, or a transitory effect of the lockdowns, or even just an outlier survey. But if the results represent a long-term trend they could overturn some long-held assumptions. For one, the political appeal of running an anti-Wall Street platform may not be as effective among young and non-White voters as in the past. And claiming credit for good stock market performance might not matter as much to middle-aged White voters.
Public corporations may find that their individual shareholders are becoming more diverse than their executive ranks and boards. Most of the pressure to date for corporate diversity has come from institutional shareholders. Individual shareholders seldom vote, and while the new, young and non-White shareholders probably don’t represent a significant block of shares, the cultural view of public companies is very much influenced by shareholder characteristics. Companies that can win the loyalty of new investors, especially younger ones, can enjoy relatively cheaper and more secure capital over long periods of time – as evidenced by Tesla.
The table below shows the percentage of U.S. households owning at least one individual stock not held in a retirement account from the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances and the September 2020 YFH poll, by race.
Owning individual stocks has a large effect on people’s attitudes in politics, financial decisions and cultural identification. It’s true that all Americans have a stake in the stock market, with more than half exposed through mutual funds and retirement accounts. Workers covered by public pensions are indirectly exposed because the ability of funds to make promised payments depends on the stock market’s performance. Even people with no assets linked to stocks are helped when the market goes up because it tends to lead to more jobs and higher wages. But these kinds of indirect exposures are less intense than what investors who pick and own individual stocks directly feel.
While the chart above shows the total change since 2016, there is reason to believe that most of it occurred in 2020. The next chart addresses that idea, asking respondents who owned individual stocks if they reduced or increased holdings in 2020. The remainder said they kept their stock investments about the same.
Similar percentages reduced holdings among all races, but Blacks and especially Hispanics were much more likely than Whites to increase.
Young and old people were more likely to own individual stocks in 2020 than 2016, but in the prime middle-age asset accumulation years, more than one-third of individual stockholders sold off their stocks. A 40-year-old is now more likely to own individual stocks than a 60-year-old.
These huge demographic changes have occurred without much change in stockholding patterns by income, education, family type, home ownership or region—factors normally considered more important to investment behavior.
The stock market was invented mainly for older, wealthy, white men and any movement toward broadening the base was scotched by the Great Depression. It wasn’t until the Baby Boomers reached working age that the market began to democratize, mainly via low-cost index funds and equity selections in tax-deferred retirement accounts, and the change did not take strongly among non-whites.
Generation X imitated its parents, but as Millennials reach working ages a new paradigm may be emerging—aggressive equity participation by young people of all races, centered on active trading of individual stocks. The dollar amounts are small today, but the long-term impact on markets, the economy and society could be profound.
The Elizabethan poet Thomas Nashe wrote “A Litany in Time of Plague” in which he warned, “Rich men, trust not in wealth, Gold cannot buy you health.” Millions of non-rich Americans, mostly young and non-White, are using this time of plague to start trusting in stocks. That may prove to be one of the bigger social changes from pandemic.
Read the full story at Bloomberg.
After the police killing of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement saw unprecedented support, and companies were all about racial justice—there was “more risk in remaining silent,” says one pollster. Now the winds have changed, but strong factors are still pushing corporations to recalibrate.
When Lululemon, purveyor of $168 leggings, trumpeted that it was supporting an effort to “unveil historical erasure and resist capitalism” earlier this month, it was mocked by the conservative edge of social media. The Woke Capital Twitter account lampooned the company’s “nonstop leftist agitation,” and commentators were quick to ask where they might collect their not-for-profit activewear. For some on the right, the Lululemon episode was emblematic of the hypocrisy of corporate virtue signaling, and they urged consumer action. Many cheered when they found signs of that customer revolt, as Charlie Kirk did when fans booed the NFL’s moment of unity before the first game of the year: “NFL Season Opener ratings were down 16.1% last night—a 10 year low for the NFL & NBC,” he tweeted. “I guess Americans don’t want to be lied to about how racist and awful their country is—especially one day before the anniversary of 9/11.”
In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, hundreds of companies rushed onto social media with statements of support, sometimes with a funding commitment, sometimes with just a black square on Instagram. It was a safe moment to establish credibility on racial equity because, in our divisive times, it was an unusual moment of apparent national agreement. Public opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement, historically split along political, racial, and age lines, abruptly swung toward consensus. Polling registered a net positive of 25 points at the end of May, according to the Civiqs tracking poll, and opposition to Black Lives Matter slid to a mere 27%. Favorable views were registered in virtually every demographic group: all racial groups, ages, and every education level. Even white people without a college degree, the foot soldiers of the Trump cultural revolution, were net positive on BLM. Corporate CEOs hastened to express their personal commitment, such as when JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon publicly took a knee.
But moments of cohesion do not last long in American public life. The violence associated with protests in Kenosha, Portland, and other U.S. cities, along with a pounding propaganda campaign by Donald Trump and conservative media, seem to have taken a toll. Now, months after Floyd’s death, the number of people expressing opposition to BLM has risen to heights not seen in two years. Civiqs shows that BLM is now underwater with white people, with people over 65, and with men. In this renewed polarized environment, even modest expressions of support come with risks. After the Montauk Brewing Company in Long Island expressed its solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement on a chalkboard outside its tasting room, angry locals formed a Defund Montauk Brewing Company group on Facebook and gathered over 33,000 followers.
In theory, the increasing disharmony around Black Lives Matter would be enough to throttle corporate enthusiasm for social justice issues. It’s true that, following weeks of statements and gestures, most have gone relatively quiet—at least from a public-facing standpoint. But below the surface, many businesses are still being pushed toward accountability. Rick Wade, the senior vice president of strategic alliances and outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told me that “this does feel like a different moment.“ In addition to “the moral imperative…this is about the business case for racial equity,” he said. Corporations now understand “that they have to be front and center on the issues of diversity and racial equality, because this is also about the market.” Perhaps you might expect to hear sunny words from the Chamber of Commerce, but they are similar to comments from the social justice sector. Arisha Hatch, the chief of campaigns for Color of Change, told me that she has seen a “sea change” in how companies are approaching issues of racial justice and a new sense of obligation to move beyond rhetoric.
The apparent continuing support, even as public sentiment shifts, reflects the fact that factors motivating corporate action haven’t changed. At the root of corporate action on issues of racial equity is pressure from employees, especially younger ones. Companies are keenly aware that they’re fighting for talent in a competitive marketplace. Increasingly, being perceived as an employer of choice among younger, educated workers who comprise the core of the long-term job market is tied to reputation on diversity, inclusion, and activism on racial equity. John Gerzema, the CEO of the Harris Poll, told me he was not at all surprised about the intensity of the corporate response to the killing of George Floyd because of how much “pressure employees were applying on organizations to speak out on social issues.… There was actually even more risk in remaining silent than there was in speaking out.” This is not a passing trend. Victoria Sakal, from the data-intelligence company Morning Consult, has been tracking attitudes on issues of racial equity for several years and notes that “Gen Z [is] also the generation to say, ‘I will be paying attention to whether there’s follow-through and I will be thinking of this in both my purchases and in my decisions of where to work.’”
The continued support also reflects changing norms around corporate activism. Not so long ago, it was popular to bemoan Citizens United and to ridicule Mitt Romney for saying that “corporations are people.” But in the intervening years, frustration with the federal government as a source of solutions has shot up, and Americans are increasingly expecting companies, particularly large ones, to fill that void. According to a Harris Poll, 72% of Americans trust companies more than the federal government to address COVID-19 and racial inequities; another recent report from Axios and Harris Poll found that 53% believe staying silent on social issues equates to indifference to what’s going on in the world and evidences a lack of integrity. And according to a recent poll from Morning Consult shared with Vanity Fair,60% of Americans believe companies should be taking action on important social issues, even if they aren’t related to their products or business. Few companies will want that kind of hit to their reputation.
All these factors were at work before the police killing of George Floyd. For many companies, therefore, the protests prompted an acceleration of what was already in the works. In early June, for instance, Bank of America announced a $1 billion commitment to address economic and racial equity. Anne Finucane, the Bank of America vice chair overseeing the program, told me it had been in progress, “but then it escalated because of the coronavirus and the disproportionate effect it had on people of color…and then George Floyd’s death of course put a punctuation here in terms of immediacy and concern.” What was initially scoped as a $500 million program quickly doubled, and over the last few weeks, Bank of America has begun rolling out elements including investments in Black-owned banks, support for historically Black colleges on job training and job creation, and increased lending to Black-owned small businesses.
Obviously, there’s only so much corporate action can do to fix a problem 400 years in the making. And there are still significant obstacles at play, such as a lack of common understanding about where the focus should be. Many companies are concentrating their efforts internally, on corporate values and diversity-and-inclusion programs. While Color of Change’s Hatch expressed support for such efforts, she also described them as “table stakes.” “We have a number of examples of how Black faces in high places, for lack of a better phrase, don’t lead to actual change. And so while diversity and inclusion are incredibly important and can be signals to wider systemic problems, we’re really focused on the real-world impact on Black people,” she said.
Hatch has pushed companies to undertake civil rights audits, to challenge their ways of doing business. A number are doing so, she says, but the jury is still out as to which are willing to change their practices in a significant way. Hatch touted some successes, such as the decision in early June by Paramount to drop the TV show Cops, but symbolic gestures are’t likely to have the systemic impact that Hatch and others are seeking. It’s fair to wonder whether, absent significant policy changes, the financial-services sector will help reverse the decline in Black homeownership, or whether soft drink companies will address the health disparities they have contributed to. Indeed, a new report this week from the consulting firm KKS Advisors accuses members of the Business Roundtable, which last year announced to great fanfare a new corporate purpose of serving all Americans, of “purpose-washing” and failing to follow through on their public commitments. Reports like these might give pause to anyone expecting rapid and systemic change, but the relentless pressure from younger employees and consumers likely means that change will still come, however haltingly. As Washington plunges deeper into the bottomless morass of partisanship, corporate America may, in fact, be the best hope for true reform.
Read the full story at Vanity Fair.