Despite United States' Worst Virus Performance In The World, U.S. Republicans Say Trump’s Done A Good Job On The Virus
Widespread Belief In What’s Clearly Not True Makes U.S. Election Predictions Very Tough
Contributor: Wy Spano
A survey conducted in 14 countries—all wealthy democracies—found each country’s public response to their own nation’s handling of the coronavirus was generally positive, except in the U.S. and the U.K. The study, by the Pew Charitable Trusts, released August 27, found that "across the 14 countries surveyed, a median of 73% say that their own country has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Just 27% believe their country has handled it poorly.”
The U.K. and the U.S. are exceptions to national satisfaction with coronavirus handling. In the U.K., 54% of the public deemed the handling of the pandemic in their country “bad,” as opposed to 46% calling it “good,” the only two choices given to those polled. In the U.S., 52% called the national handling of the pandemic “bad,” and 47% thought it was “good.”
Despite being quite similar, in terms of overall satisfaction and dissatisfaction, U.K. and U.S. polls were strikingly different in terms of the political leaning of those liking and disliking the country’s pandemic performance. The Conservative Party, with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, is in power in the U.K. In the U.S., Republicans, headed by President Donald Trump, are in power. U.S. Republicans are seen as the American party closest in beliefs to the British Conservatives.
One would expect that people affiliating with the Conservative Party in the U.K., and the Republican Party in the U.S., would lean toward saying that their government had done a good job on the pandemic. And that is, in fact true. In the U.S., a whopping 76% of Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party say the government has done a good job, while just 25% of Democrats and Democratic leaners agree, a 51 percentage point difference. A majority of right-leaning Britons (55%) give a positive rating to their country’s handling of the pandemic, but just 26% on the left hold the same opinion. That difference is only 29%. British Conservatives are much less likely to slavishly follow their leadership than U.S. Republicans.
How does all this make predicting election results difficult? Any way you look at the pandemic record, the U.S. is the worst in the world, despite what Trump tweets. Tens of thousands of people have died unnecessarily because of his bungling. Despite that reality, 77% of his supporters believe he’s done a good job. Republicans have apparently developed a high tolerance for believing nonsense. Thirty-nine percent of them still believe that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and was, therefore, an illegitimate president. A July 28 NBC/Survey Monkey poll found 86% of Democrats saying they wear masks every time they leave the house, while only 48% of Republicans say that. A mid-July Gallup Poll found 24% of Republicans saying they always wear masks in public vs 61% of those who identify as Democrats. Somehow public health and politics have gotten mixed up, and Republicans seem to believe what Trump says, regardless of the actual facts.
In most elections, opposing parties spend quite a bit of time and money trying to lure “moderates” or middle voters to their candidate. This time, Democrats are wondering if their money shouldn’t be spent on turnout, rather than trying to change the mind of Trump voters.
You can read the entire Pew Poll here.
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