The Pandemic: Public Health and Politics

SBB Research Group has released new results from its series of national surveys on the personal, economic and societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.


Throughout the pandemic, SBB Research Group has conducted over ten thousand surveys of individuals across the country. The researchers have studied how COVID-19 has impacted Americans' lives, healthcare, finances, employment, mental health, and concerns about everyday activities. In addition, the surveys collected demographic information including age, gender, and political party identification. The analysis has consistently revealed a political divide on pandemic-related topics.


SBB Research Group explores areas where there are consistently significant differences between the parties: mask-wearing, vaccines, returning to normal, public health policies, and the media. These areas have divided the country along political lines and led to significant divergences in behavior and policy perspectives.


Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proclaimed on April 3, 2020 that masks are a critical mitigation strategy to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The surveys show that even though there was a high participation rate regarding mask-wearing, there are significant differences between respondents based on political party identification. Since SBB Research Group's November 2, 2020 poll, there has been an average 25 percent disparity between Democrats and Republicans regarding self-reported adherence to wearing a mask "all the time" or "most of the time" during that same period, with Democrats more likely to wear a mask.


Vaccine

SBB Research Group's February 4, 2021 post explored Americans' willingness to be vaccinated. The firm noted that 61 percent of respondents would get the vaccine if it were available at that time. Since the election in November 2020, the acceptance rate has increased from 45 percent to more than 70 percent of survey respondents who indicated that they would be willing to get the vaccine. According to the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Allergy, the 70 percent acceptance rate is just shy of the 75-85-percent acceptance rate that would make it likely to reach herd immunity and, thus, end the pandemic Infectious Diseases.


However, willingness to receive the vaccine varies dramatically by political party. For example, in the May 4, 2021 survey, 48 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Independents were willing to get the vaccine. In contrast, 85 percent of Democrats were willing to get vaccinated.


Getting "Back to Normal"

In November 2020, surveyed Americans expected their lives to "generally return to normal" by May 2021. Having passed May 2021, Americans now anticipate that life will return to normal by the end of October 2021.


Republicans remain more optimistic regarding an expected "return to normal." According to the May 4, 2021 survey, the median date that Independents and Democrats expect life to return to normal is mid-to-late October 2021. However, the median expectation among Republicans for returning to normal is September 6, 2021, 40 days sooner than the median date of Independents and 55 days sooner than that of Democrats.

Media Echo Chamber?

There are significant disparities in preferred news sources based on political party affiliation, potentially contributing to survey respondents' divergent views. Results from the May 4, 2021 survey reveal that more than half (52 percent) of Republicans watch Fox News, and the majority of Democrats watch either CNN (39 percent) or MSNBC (20 percent). The majority of Independents split their time between CNN (26 percent) and ABC, CBS, or NBC (collectively 28 percent).


Impact on Public Health

The research team continues to survey respondents regarding which organizations have had the most significant impact on public health. Results from the May 4, 2021 survey reveal that 58 percent of Republicans believe that the Trump administration had an overall positive ("mild" or "significant" positive) effect on public health, while only 2 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Independents share that same view.


Even though the Biden administration has been in office for just over 130 days, 90 percent of Democrats believe that the Biden administration has a positive impact on public health ("mild" or "significant"). However, most Republicans disagree, with just 15 percent of Republicans believing the Biden administration has impacted public health positively overall.


Survey Methodology

All surveys were conducted online with respondents in the United States, and certain analyses were based on subsets of the survey population only. Additional details about the survey methods and their limitations are available at www.covidoutlook.com/methods.

This story can be found on GlobeNewswire.