Will Fourth be a fizzle? Poll shows fewer cookouts — and less willingness to go to fireworks shows

Months ago, President Joe Biden expressed hope that the Fourth of July holiday would begin to mark our independence from the COVID-19 virus.

A recent Monmouth University Poll said that likely won’t be the case.

The poll of 810 adults, conducted June 9-14 by phone, found a sizable number of Americans will be holding back on their typical holiday festivities this weekend. The poll also finds that summer vacation plans are still below normal levels, but better than they were after the pandemic altered the rhythm of American life last year. Consider:

  • Cookouts: Just over half (54%) of American adults plan to attend an Independence Day barbecue this year, which is down from a pre-pandemic level of 69%;
  • Fireworks: The number of people who plan to attend a professional show (26%) is half of what it was two years ago (51%);
  • Parades: Fewer people plan on attending July Fourth parades (18%, versus 28% in 2019);
  • Home fireworks: Slightly fewer people said they will be setting off their own fireworks (26%, versus 31% in 2019).

Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said Republicans are somewhat more likely than Democrats to say they will partake in all four of these activities. There was more parity across the parties two years ago for barbecues and fireworks.

“Partisan differences in holiday activities are tied to COVID,” he said. “As with other aspects of socializing during the pandemic, Democrats are more cautious than Republicans about venturing into crowds on July Fourth.”

About half (48%) of the public plans to take a summer vacation this year. This is lower than typical levels, but higher than actual plans for 2020. Last June, 63% said they had been planning a summer vacation before COVID hit, but only 26% said it was probable that they would actually take some type of summer trip in 2020.

Overall, 34% of Americans said their summer vacation plans this year are about what they would typically do, while 26% say they have either scaled back plans or canceled their usual summer vacation plans altogether.

“Overseas trips have taken the biggest hit, but the number taking a vacation closer to home really hasn’t changed,” Murray said. “While some travelers are downgrading their plans, others are simply opting to wait at least another year before resuming summer travel.”

Methodology: The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 9 to 14, 2021, with a national random sample of 810 adults age 18 and older. This includes 281 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 529 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen.