Americans’ perceptions regarding the threat of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Trump’s handling of the crisis are starkly divided along partisan lines, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released over the weekend.
Overall, 60 percent of American voters think the pandemic’s greatest impact on the U.S. is yet to come. More than half of voters (53 percent) are also concerned that someone in their family might contract the virus, and more than four-in-ten (41 percent) believe their day-to-day lives will be altered as a result of the crisis.
When political ideology is taken into consideration, however, a measurable gap in Americans’ attitudes surrounding the severity of the virus becomes clear.
Overall, Democrats appear far more concerned about the threat of the virus than Republicans. More than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) who identified as Democrat reported being worried that someone in their family could catch the virus, while Republicans appear to remain skeptical, with fewer than half (40 percent) reporting these worries. Additionally, more than half (56 percent) of Democrats believe their day-to-day lives will change as a result of the virus, while only about a quarter (26 percent) of Republicans believe this.
Democrats also appear more proactive about altering their daily habits in light of the virus: 61 percent of Democrats said they’ve stopped or plan to stop attending large public gatherings, while less than half that (30 percent) of Republicans admitted doing so.
More than three-quarters (79 percent) of Democrats said they think the virus’ worst impact is yet to come, while almost half that (40 percent) of Republicans share this belief.
Like seemingly everything else today, it appears the virus too has been politicized. Overall, less than half of American voters polled—45 percent—said they approved of Trump’s handling of the outbreak, and 48 percent said they have confidence in his ability to tackle the ongoing crisis.
Once again, however, divisions become clear when respondents’ political leanings come into play. An overwhelming number of Republicans (81 percent) said they approve of Trump’s handling of the outbreak, while an even larger number of Democrats (84 percent) said they disapprove.
Virtually all respondents (99 percent) said they’ve seen, read or heard news coverage about the spread of the coronavirus, 89 percent of whom reported encountering “a lot” of coverage regarding the story, the highest percentage NBC News/WSJ polls have registered for a major event since 2009.
The NBC News/WSJ survey polled 900 registered voters between Wednesday March 11 and Friday 13.