Poll: California renters fear coronavirus reopening more than homeowners

California renters, with family budgets battered by the coronavirus lockdown, are more worried about the pandemic than homeowners, according to one poll.

Watching the renter-vs.-owner divide as shown in polling by the Public Policy Institute of California offers a glimpse into how views shift along the state’s wide economic gap. The latest survey of 1,706 Californians polled May 17–26 revealed some sharp differences of opinion on the virus fallout depending on whether a respondent owned their home or not.

Take a question on the pandemic’s future: 52% of renters say the worst of the pandemic is yet to come vs. 43% of owners. The poll also showed that 30% of renters want more public activity restrictions vs. 20% of owners. And as for the much-debated economic reopening of the state, 61% of renters fear it will be too fast vs. 55% of owners.

Now, this runs counter to a key argument for quickly lift restrictions. Fewer stay at home rules could ease economic pain.

Renters are clearly feeling the pain of coronavirus cuts. When asked about the status of their personal finances: 57% of renters replied “fair” or “poor” vs. 41% of owners. And those finances compared with a year ago? A third of renters (33%) said “worse” vs. 26% of owners.

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Fewer or smaller paychecks due to lockdown orders didn’t help renters as 41% of tenant households said they had a job loss (vs. 30% of owners), and 56% of renters households had hours or wages cut vs. 45% of owners.

Even with that monetary stress, 64% of renters say California is going in the “right direction” vs. 52% of owners. Tenants are not as worried about California’s budget shortfall with only 38% of renters thinking it’s a “big” problem vs. 55% of owners.

And there’s even a leadership perception gap.

Gov. Gavin Newsom gets high grades with 72% of renters approving of his handling of the pandemic vs. 67% of owners. That’s a sharp contrast to President Trump’s work on the virus: 63% of California renters disapprove as do 58% of homeowners.