Despite a tenuous process that included widespread bipartisan disagreements on what a sufficient direct payment amount should be, Congress eventually passed a coronavirus pandemic relief stimulus package around Christmas. Some Americans have already received their $600 payment but CivicScience data show that more than half of qualifying adults have not. 

Sentiment tracking data show that a quarter of U.S. adults agree that the federal government needed to issue a second payment.

However, most of those who did, at large, support a federal stimulus package don’t think that $600 per qualifying individual was enough. Public opinion hasn’t shifted much since the last CivicScience study; 78% of U.S. adults say $1,200 or more is what the amount should have been. 

Considering that support for higher direct individual payments is widespread, it’s not surprising that even along party lines, there isn’t extreme bifurcation. Between Conservatives and Liberals, there’s a 16 percentage point difference (67% and 83%) in support for payments being $1,200 or higher.

When the amount issued to Americans was finalized, we researched what people are planning to do with the check once they have it in their accounts. In a CivicScience survey of over 9,500 qualifying U.S. adults between the end of July 2020 and January 2021, not much has changed – the vast majority (77%) of U.S. adults still plan to either save it or use the majority of the payment to pay off debt or bills, or buy necessities.

The biggest shift between December 2020 and January 2021 is that now more people plan to use this payment to purchase necessities. This tracks similarly with findings from a recent survey of over 4,300 U.S. adults in early January 2021 that found more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults say they’ve had trouble affording groceries or essential items over the last six months.

CivicScience will continue to monitor public sentiment surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Want to stay up to date with CivicScience’s weekly COVID-19 Impact Report? Sign up to receive the latest insights and up-to-the-minute data here