As a whole, Americans have come to an uneasy consensus about the coronavirus pandemic that is now nearly two years older. Surveys from Ipsos conducted by Axios and released on Tuesday morning show that almost three-quarters of Americans believe that the disease remains a threat. However, it is a manageable one. It is consistent with other polling from The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). It found that less than one in five Americans have reported participating in a tiny fraction of the activities they were involved in before the outbreak.
What’s interesting about the survey, however, is the fact that Democrats and not Republicans tend to believe that the pandemic is not a problem. Almost a third of Republicans think that the disease isn’t even a problem. Republicans are ten times more likely to believe that than Democrats.
This is the main tension in the pandemic.
From the very beginning, President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to consider the pandemic an issue that was not a problem, something that would diminish as summer approached or be eliminated by treatment options (like the hydroxychloroquine he urged) or vaccinations. The answer was constantly changing. However, the message was constant: It was not over. As waves of disease and death descended, Republicans believed that the worst was already over.
Surveys from YouGov carried out for Economist clarify this. In the summer of 2020, half of Republicans thought that the most serious pandemic was over the nation, and this view sank when the winter swarm hit. After the widespread roll-out of vaccines at the beginning of last year, optimism that the final turn had been turned was overall across political identities. Then came delta, and then Omicron followed.
(On the top graph, below the lines, they represent the average of three weeks of the polling. Results for each poll are marked by dots.)
How to define “the most deadly pandemic” differs. Are they cases? Deaths? Economic consequences? The way one looks at the most dangerous thing determines when it is over or has passed. However, most people view the effects of the storms as negative due to the drop in confidence, which indicates that the most severe have diminished as new waves arrive.
However, since March 1st, 2021, there’s been a stark divide among Republicans in the Republican party and Democrats. In the polls of 32 out of 44, most Republicans have declared that the most severe pandemic is now over. In just three ballots, Democrats declared the same.
This is reflected in how people view the disease. At the same time, those who were able to vote in favour of Joe Biden in November 2020 have seen higher levels of vaccination and lower rates of deaths than those who have voted for Trump.
Vaccines can be a helpful indicator, but this political divide is evident in other attempts to limit the worst strain of the disease. KFF found that Republicans are more than two times more likely than Democrats to assert that they have never changed their lifestyles as they were before the outbreak. KFF also found that Republicans were four times as likely as Democrats to believe that people need to stop hiding “so that the situation can be returned to their normal.”
This is the irony that’s been around since the pandemic; in the hopes that the virus would disappear, it made sure that it didn’t. Refusing to wear a mask to give the appearance of normality makes normalcy more difficult to attain. Letting the virus disappear isn’t as effective as it was the time Trump attempted to make it happen two years ago.