• Polling

Majorities Support Pandemic Mitigation Measures Amid High Concern Over Omicron

Thursday, December 9, 2021 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.
Key takeaways
  • A majority continue to approve of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic despite concerns about Omicron and signs of renewed pessimism on the pandemic.
  • As a significant majority of the country remains “pro-mask,” mask mandates enjoy broad support, while a narrower majority supports vaccine mandates.
  • On policies to fight the pandemic, covering the cost of at-home tests, requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated, and mask requirements when case counts are high are popular; banning mask mandates in schools is widely opposed.

Americans Are Concerned About Omicron at Both the National and Local Levels

Levels of concern about Omicron are similar to when the Delta variant emerged among Democrats and independents, while concerns among Republicans are nearly ten points higher.

Amid Omicron News, More Americans Worry the “Worst Is Yet to Come” in the Pandemic Than Say the “Worst Is Over”

Pluralities of Democrats (41%) and independents (43%) say the “worst is yet to come” on the pandemic, while a plurality of Republicans are optimistic “the worst is over” (45%).

But, Americans Are Hearing Positives About Biden’s Handling of the Pandemic

Compared to late November, the conversation has shifted back towards coronavirus – though many still refer to the successful passage of the infrastructure bill as a top positive news item recently heard about the president.

Though Biden’s Ratings Remain Underwater Overall and on the Economy, He Is Still in the Positive on the Pandemic

Biden’s approval ratings on his handling of his job overall as president and on the economy specifically are still in the negative, but on the pandemic, a majority continue to approve of the job he’s doing (51% approve/46% disapprove).

Approval Ratings of the Vaccine Rollout Still Remain High and Steady

Approval of the rollout of the vaccine is bipartisan: 83% of Democrats, 47% of independents, and 51% of Republicans approve of the rollout.

Americans Want to See the Government Focused on the Pandemic and See Biden and Congress Doing So

Nearly seven in ten Democrats (68%) and 47% of independents say the pandemic is a top issue, with 72% and 62% respectively saying Biden and Congress are focusing on it. Just 29% of Republicans say it is a top priority.

Americans Remain Overwhelmingly “Pro-Mask”

Nearly nine in ten Democrats continue to identify as “pro-mask,” as do a majority of independents (55%) though there has been a slight downtick in the share of independents who say they are “pro-mask” since mid-September.

Mask Mandates Receive Broad Support and Are Largely Seen as “Effective” in Slowing the Spread of Coronavirus

Majorities of independents (54%) and two in five Republicans (41%) support mask mandates, and 50% of independents and 41% of Republicans say they are effective in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

A Narrower Majority Supports Vaccine Mandates than Mask Mandates, But Two in Three Say They Are Effective

The disparity between perceived effectiveness of vaccine mandates (+33 net effective) and support for them (+12 net support) is driven largely by Republicans, who are at net -38 support, but only at net -8 on effectiveness.

Covering Test Costs, Requiring Healthcare Workers to Be Vaccinated, and Mask Requirements Have Significant Support

Among independents, top mitigation policies include insurers covering the costs of at-home tests, the launching of family vaccination clinics, indoor mask requirements when cases are high, and mask requirements in schools.

Out of a Range of Conservative Pandemic Policies, Bans on Mask Mandates Generate the Most Opposition

Banning school mask mandates and banning private companies from having testing requirements for unvaccinated employees inspire the most opposition among independents.

Republicans’ Handling of the Pandemic Raises Concerns, Especially Their Desire to Rely on “Natural Immunity”

Majorities of independents find a range of criticisms of Republicans’ handling of the pandemic concerning, especially their encouragement of natural immunity over vaccination to fight the pandemic (66% concerning).

In Rebuttal to Calls for “Natural Immunity,” Pointing to the Vaccine and Unnecessary Risks Is Most Effective

In response to an argument that Americans should rely on “natural immunity” instead of enacting new mandates when cases go back up, messaging about relying on the vaccine or about mask and vaccine use both are effective.

About The Study

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted December 3-6, 2021. Additional interviews were conducted among 99 Hispanic voters, 99 African American voters, 99 independents without a partisan lean, and 70 Asian American and Pacific Islander voters.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

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