(Trends Wide) — Americans increasingly support COVID-19 vaccination mandates for workers, students, and in everyday public life, according to a new Trends Wide poll conducted by SSRS. The change comes amid renewed concerns about the pandemic and an ongoing partisan split over efforts to combat it.
People are evenly split, 51% to 49%, on whether requiring proof of vaccination for daily activities is an acceptable way to increase the vaccination rate or an unacceptable violation of personal rights.
But there is stronger support for requiring vaccines in many specific cases. More than half of Americans now say they support the requirement for vaccinations for office workers returning to the workplace (54%), students attending face-to-face classes (55%), and those attending sporting events or concerts (55%), although there is less (41%) support in requiring vaccination to a buyer who enters a supermarket.
Support for these mandates has increased across the board since April, growing 6 percentage points for students, 8 points for office workers and event goers, and 15 points for grocery shoppers.
The poll, which used a different methodology than Trends Wide’s above, was conducted over a month-long period in August and September, prior to President Joe Biden’s announcement of the new vaccine rules. Those requirements, announced last week, could apply to nearly two-thirds of the American workforce.
That move, according to the survey, follows a sharp resurgence in concern about the coronavirus and its impact on the nation. An overwhelming 86% of people say the pandemic is not over yet in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds say the country has also not begun to recover economically from the pandemic, and 41% say conditions continue to worsen, a prospect darker than in March.
The majority of Americans, 64%, say they are still taking extra precautions against coronavirus in their everyday lives, and only 36% feel safe enough to lead their lives largely as they did before the pandemic. And the vast majority say they are vaccinated against the coronavirus, with a new low of 22% saying they have not been vaccinated and do not plan to get vaccinated.
About half say they always adhere to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on covid-19, and 38% say they do in some cases.
School mask requirements, which have sparked political battles in several states, are also widely popular: 63% say that all children who attend face-to-face school should have to wear masks in classrooms, with only 37% against .
Political divisions due to covid-19
Americans are politically divided on many aspects of the pandemic, from their personal reactions to their political preferences, a dynamic that several respondents, on both sides of the aisle, cited when asked to name the nation’s biggest problems.
“This pandemic is so politicized that people don’t listen to experts and only listen to their own confirmation bias,” an independent, Democratic-leaning Texas woman said in the poll. Meanwhile, a Republican-leaning Ohio independent argued that Biden had “politicized the vaccine” beginning with last year’s campaign.
Democrats are 24 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say that the pandemic is not over, 50 points more likely to say they always adhere to CDC guidance, and 46 points more likely to say they continue to take precautions against the virus. . They are 54 points more likely to favor covid-19 vaccination mandates in the workplace, 57 points more likely to view vaccination mandates as an acceptable strategy to increase the vaccination rate, and 60 points more likely to support the use of masks in schools. Those partisan divisions far outweigh any variation along generational, gender, or racial lines.
But that does not add up to a nation that is split in half on how it is handling covid-19. Most Republicans say they are vaccinated (60%) and at least somewhat aware of CDC regulations (76%) and a sizable number continue to take precautions against coronavirus (40%), in each case joining an overwhelming majority of Democrats who say the same.
Even on matters of policy, Democrats tend to support specific restrictions more universally than Republicans universally oppose: one-third of Republicans, for example, support mask-wearing requirements in schools, while only 7 % of Democrats are against.
Republicans who say they have been vaccinated themselves are slightly more supportive of the regulations than those who say they have not been vaccinated: 43% of Republicans who have been vaccinated say they are in favor of vaccination requirements in the workplace, compared to just 3% of those who are not vaccinated.
But there are also signs of an underlying divide between former President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, the majority of the Republican Party, and the rest of the party. Republicans who say Trump should be the party leader are 18 percentage points more likely than those who say he shouldn’t lead the party to say the pandemic is over, 32 points more likely to oppose vaccination requirements in office. and 26 points more likely that they themselves are not vaccinated against covid-19.
Looking ahead, Americans are much more in agreement with retaining some of the societal changes that ushered in the pandemic, even once coronavirus cases have fallen to a manageable level.
There is broad support for retaining many remote alternatives: 86% say companies should continue to offer employees the option to work remotely, another 86% say doctors should continue to offer the option of telemedicine appointments, and 69 % say schools should continue to offer remote learning options to students. Nine out of 10 Americans also want restaurants to maintain expanded outdoor dining options, and 81% expect movies to continue to be released for home broadcast at the same time they are released in theaters.
Americans also want the people around them to continue to take some action against the spread of disease. An 84% majority say that people should continue to choose to wear face masks in mass transit and other confined spaces, and a near-universal 93% say that people should continue to stay home when experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
The new Trends Wide poll was conducted by SSRS from Aug. 3 to Sept. 7 among a random national sample of 2,119 adults initially contacted by mail. Interviews were conducted online or by phone with a live interviewer. The full sample results have a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.