Poll: 42% of voters back canceling licenses or jailing business owners violating coronavirus orders

'Putting it in the context of America’s founding ideals, this finding suggests that the lockdown orders do not have the consent of the governed,' Rasmussen said.

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Demonstrators hold a rally in front of the Michigan state capital building to protest the governor's stay-at-home order.
Demonstrators hold a rally in front of the Michigan state capital building to protest the governor's stay-at-home order.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Last Updated:
May 19, 2020 - 2:15pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen polls shows 42% of American voters back canceling licenses or jailing business owners violating coronavirus orders.

"The fact that only 42% are willing to back government officials on the enforcement of these laws is pretty stunning," Rasmussen said. "When 42% side with the rule breakers and another 16% aren’t sure, it is a very strong indication that voters believe the rules themselves are the real problem. Putting it in the context of America’s founding ideals, this finding suggests that the lockdown orders do not have the consent of the governed."

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Just the News Poll, Do you agree more with business owners or government about reopening?
Just the News Daily Poll
With Scott Rasmussen

The lack of support for the lockdown rules is consistent with Rasmussen's earlier polling showing that 60% of voters believe all businesses should be allowed to re-open if they establish appropriate social distancing policies. Just 26% are opposed.

"In a telling divide, college graduates are more likely to side with the government enforcement," Rasmussen said. "Those without a degree are more likely to align with the business owners. Upper income voters (more than 100k) also tend to side with the government. Lower-income voters ( less than 50k) side with the business owners. This confirms a range of other data suggesting professional elites are far more comfortable with the lockdown orders than other Americans. It’s possible that this is because professional elites are least likely to feel the pain of the lockdowns."

On a partisan basis, Republicans side with the business owners by a 60% to 25% margin. However, Democrats side with the government by a nearly mirror image margin of 57% to 27%. Independents are evenly divided with 41% on each side of the question.

Within the Democratic Party, however, there is a significant divide. White Democrats strongly side with the government (60% agree with the government, 22% with the business owners). Black Democrats are more evenly divided (43% government, 38% business owners).

"Perhaps it’s not surprising that government employees side with the government by a 50% to 31% margin," Rasmussen said. "Private sector workers side with the business owners by a 47% to 41% margin."

Just the News Daily Poll respondents were asked “Some business owners have opened shops and restaurants in violation of government lockdown orders. Governments have responded by taking away business licenses or jailing the owners. Generally speaking, who do you agree with the most--the business owners or the governments?" They replied as below:

  • 42% Business Owners
  • 42% Government
  • 16% Not sure

The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted May 14-16, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. Margin of sampling error: +/- 2.8% for full sample. 

To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click below:

To see the methodology and sample demographics for this polling question, click below: