This spring, in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, New York began conducting a weekly poll to learn more about how the pandemic was upending our readers’ lives. Thousands of you opened up to us about the havoc this year was wreaking on your mental health, work-life balance, future plans, and more. Now, as the virus continues to spread across the country while the increasingly unpredictable and chaotic presidential campaigns play out, we’ve restarted it. This week: Your response to the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings, what you think life will be like during the pandemic winter, and how you feel about Election Day in three words.
How would you describe your emotional state right now?
Very anxious and/or scared: 23%
Somewhat anxious and/or scared: 36%
Slightly concerned: 7%
Totally fine: 3%
Have you had COVID-19 at any time in the past seven months?
I think I may have had it but couldn’t get tested in time: 8%
Do you know anyone else who has had it?
Have you ever taken a coronavirus test?
Do you, or does anyone in your household, fear that your work puts you at significant risk of contracting the virus?
How would you rate the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic?
Reasonably fine: 2%
Just okay: 1%
An unmitigated disaster: 93%
Do you think Trump and Biden should participate in another debate before Election Day?
Yes, but only if it’s virtual: 44%
Has the pandemic changed your decision about whom to vote for in the presidential election?
I’m still undecided: 1%
Has the pandemic changed your decision about whom to vote for in your state or local elections?
I’m still undecided: 2%
How are you planning to vote?
In person on Election Day: 13%
In person during early voting: 28%
By mail or drop-off: 51%
I’m not voting, by choice: 1%
I’m not voting, because I’m not eligible: 6%
If you’re voting early or by mail, have you voted already?
Have you experienced a furlough, job loss, or pay cut as a result of the recession?
If so, have you since returned to work, found new employment, or had your normal pay reinstated?
Has anyone in your household received unemployment benefits during the past seven months?
If so, how did the end of the $600/week federal payment affect you?
I’m struggling to cover basic necessities without it: 21%
I’m having more financial stress, but I’m able to get by: 41%
I’m doing relatively fine: 37%
Did you watch any part of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings?
If so, how did they make you feel?
“Ripped off. The Republicans are trying to confirm someone who will likely quash hard won human rights when they should be focusing on how to ensure I can exercise my voting right safely and easily and without fear. And they could be working on the relief bill to help people out. Ironically, the hearings are a travesty of justice for all.”
“Increasingly despairing, losing my faith in humanity, and amazed at how easily and eloquently people can lie.”
“Sad that justice appointments have become hyper-partisan. And, why in the world are they still lifetime appointments?”
“They elevated my blood pressure. Like every other goddamn thing in 2020.”
“Angry. The House relief bills are sitting, waiting to be passed but the Senate has prioritized confirming a nominee with only 3 years of experience and against their own previously stated rules. I’m extremely worried about reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of immigrants.”
“They made me lose some confidence in Republicans and Democrats, as both sides were basically bickering about whether what was happening was fair or not. If there isn’t a law that keeps a new justice from being sworn in right before an election, I can’t understand why anyone would think either party would skip on the opportunity.”
“Doomed. A lot of people will die prematurely when the ACA is struck down.”
“Angry and exasperated. My daughter will have less freedom of her body than I have.”
“She’s smart, but dodgy. She should not be confirmed, but it’s a done deal. The chance to make that decision is a real loss to the American people. Republicans, McConnell in particular, do not care. It’s all sad and exhausting.”
“Angry. It’s clear the older generation of Democratic leadership lacks the vision and spine to push back on this desecration of political norms.”
“Ugh. Handmaid’s Tale level gross.”
“Optimistic. The hearings were civil and she is an outstanding choice.”
“Outraged, fearful, resigned, and hopeful that Biden will be able to appoint a replacement for Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito.”
“For the first time since the Trump nightmare began, I am terrified for the country’s future. The GOP is willing to risk their own electability (not to mention the health of everyone around them) to push her in.”
“Like the wolves are at the door. The Democrats won’t fight the GOP hard enough, they’ll keep expecting the Republicans to have shame and we’ll pay for their insistence on turning the other cheek. She’ll get confirmed, plunge us backwards decades if not further, and rubber stamp whatever Trump wants, including whatever he wants to pull with the election. I think we’re screwed.”
“Broken. Despondent. Devastated. Heartbroken. Livid. It’s been a while since I’ve voted for a Republican, but I swear I never will vote anything but a straight Democratic ticket for the rest of my life. (I’m 45.) These people are dangerous, callous, and destroying our nation and the principle of democracy.”
“I had never heard her speak before and I actually really liked her demeanor and I think she is really smart, something I wasn’t expecting, so that was surprising and scary. I don’t agree with really anything that I know about her or her past track record and statements, so it was quite disturbing to me to not have a more visceral reaction of disdain.”
“Scammed, disappointed, disgusted. I think democracy is dead and we are watching its funeral rites. I’m a senior and I’ve seen a lot of sh*t but this is cartoon villain evil being perpetrated on the American people. I taught foreigners English for 30 years and I’m embarrassed. I wish I could tell my former students that I’m sorry for promoting this place.”
What do you think your life will look like this winter?
“Hellish. Home with two kids under five. I am constantly doing something and always bored. Never alone and unbearably lonely. Winter will make it all worse because we can’t see people outside as easily.”
“I’m worried for my and my students’ mental health. The Bronx high school where I teach doesn’t have a ventilation system so our only ventilation is through open windows. It’s already freezing and it’s only October. Kids will stop coming – which is good for virus concerns and terrifying for their mental health.”
“If Biden wins, a huge weight will be lifted, no matter what the COVID restrictions are. I’ll feel a great sense of relief that the country is finally back and track and will emerge from this nightmare.”
“Miserable. We live in Chicago in a one bedroom apartment. No one’s going to go out, there will be nothing to do. We’re all going to go crazy.”
“I think I’m close to my mental limit on how much I can stay inside. I need to find ways to safely exercise and take more mental breaks that don’t involve looking at other, smaller screens.”
“More and more stressful. I’m a child psychiatrist and kids are falling apart.”
“Similar to what it was in March and April 2020 – hunkering down at home with my wife, curbside pickup of groceries and medicines, long walks through our neighborhood and nearby parks, seeing friends and relatives via Zoom, but not in-person indoors, etc.”
“Hopefully not huddled in a corner of my apartment looking out the window at a temporary morgue again.”
“Sad, lonely, and boring. We’re not feeling it’s safe to gather for the holidays. I desperately miss my grandchildren, children, and friends. I think we have a long road ahead before we can get back to our lives.”
“Who knows? Holed up in my house hoping my family, partner, and I don’t don’t get sick? If Trump wins, the country will probably resemble a scene out of The Road by Christmas so the question might be moot. Would four more years of this really be ‘living?’ I truly don’t know if I have the emotional wherewithal to survive it.”
“I honestly don’t think life will change too much. I want to catastrophize and say that everything is going to be worse but this year has already been a shit show. I think life this winter will be a reflection of the mess this year has been just in a different month.”
“Bleak. Without stimulus and enhanced unemployment I don’t know how I’ll make it.”
“Mentally and emotionally bleak, if physically okay. With the election and the rise in COVID cases nationally, I don’t think there’ll be space for feeling anything potentially hopeful until after inauguration and the hopefully peaceful transfer of power, and the increase in sunlight again. It seems both extraordinarily close and extraordinarily far in time.”
“It’s hard to say. Job searching during a pandemic while raising kids and schooling at home has been exhausting and disheartening. I know a win for Biden won’t automatically change every aspect of my life, but I really, really need this win.”
“Dark, scary, and lonely. Money is really tight and COVID has wreaked havoc on my friendships and ended my relationship, so it will be very lonely. Much of my family isn’t careful and are spending time with my high-risk grandparents, so I won’t see any of them for the holidays. Cases will spike inevitably and there will be more deaths, and depending on the election it could be chaotic. I worry the government won’t offer more assistance. It will be depressing and fraught.”
“I have no idea. I think the election will play a huge role, not only for policy reasons, but how the election will impact the news and media (especially social media) we consume. A lot of my COVID anxiety comes from the constant stream of information online and the society it reflects. It’s hard to predict life after the election without knowing the results.”
“I think I will be pretty isolated in my small apartment where I live alone. But hopefully I’ll continue the small pleasure of walking in Central and Riverside Parks with friends. I am not going to eat at restaurants, but may try to do take-out more to support local places and also because I am bored with my own cooking. I think I probably will go to the Met because I miss it a lot, and I am excited about the Frick moving in the Breuer building on Madison. The Frick series ‘Cocktails with a Curator’ has made me feel close to that institution and has been one of the few bright spots of the pandemic. I hope to do a lot of walking and biking if the weather doesn’t get too bad.”
“I live in California… so we won’t get any federal aid for anything if Trump gets re-elected because his ego will have suffered some electoral trauma. I’ll probably have to stop talking to my parents – they’re not his biggest fans but they’re so conservative it makes me ill. If these fires keep raging, may have to move? Everything’s so damn uncertain.”
“It already feels like we’re living in some dystopian timeline, I can’t help but feel like this winter will just be the same weirdness as these past seven months.”
“Cozy and lonely.”
“If Biden wins by a wide enough margin I think I will be able to relax, but only a little. We’ll still be dealing with the repercussions of Trump’s nightmare administration. If Trump wins I don’t know how we’ll survive as a country or individually. It’s going to be a long, hard winter no matter what.”
“Honestly, absolutely terrible.”
“More of the same. The same four walls. The same daily Zoom meetings. The same. And I am beyond tired of it. Beyond bored. Just so tired.”
“I’ll probably be depressed, I might be sick, but I hope I’ll be doing something that matters.”
Tell us how you’re feeling about November 3 in three words.
Scared, hopeful, nervous. | Scared, hopeful, anxious. | Anxious, eager, helpless. | Disaster is coming. | I’m cautiously optimistic. | Day of reckoning. | Dreading legal battles. | Angry, afraid, defeated. | Terrified, unsure, exhausted. | End it already. | Anxious to vote. | I feel bad. | Very very concerned. | Anxious, hopeful, excited. | Jesus fucking Christ. | No. More. Years. | Concerned about democracy. | Disappointed, fearful, deflated. | Nauseous, anxious, eager. | Determined to win. | Encouraged but nervous. | Terrified, hopeful, worried. | Not soon enough. | So very hopeful. | Nervous, edgy, expectant. | Terrified, terrified, and terrified. | Anxious, impatient, dread. | Frightened but hopeful. | Dreading my birthday. | Exhausted, angry, ashamed. | Can not wait. | Change is due. | Pass. The. Ativan. | Optimistically predicting landslide. | Drawn-out, obstruction, intimidating. | Angry, fearful, motivated. | Anxious, impatient, ready. | Super sweaty palms. | Worried, scared, uncertain. | Please be over. | Dreading, anxious, pre-sad. | Go Biden/Harris!!! | Anxious about violence. | VERY STRESSED OUT. | LMAO I’m terrified. | Insecure. Hopeful. Dread. | America’s only hope. | Weed, beer, wine. | Pretty pretty good. | Both candidates suck. | Big ol’ yikes. | Get him out. | Get here faster. | Stupidly cautiously hopeful. | Would rather Bernie. | Beginning of end. | STRESSED BIDEN STRESSED. | Not great, Bob. | Ready for it. | Scariest day ever. | Three ring circus.
*Note: Not every respondent answered every question.