March 10, 2023

The Partisan Rift On COVID-19

New data from the Gallup organization suggests that sharp partisan divisions exist on the COVID-19 pandemic. What else is new, right? Except that this divide isn't on the efficacy of vaccines or the effectiveness of lockdowns—it's about whether the pandemic even exists anymore. As the accompanying chart from Gallup shows, fully three in four Republicans (75%) think the pandemic is finished in the United States, while only a little over one-quarter of Democrats (28%) feel the same way. Among Independents, it's about an even split (55% pandemic is over).

While the trend is up for all three partisan groups, the fact that there is a 47-point gap between Republicans and Democrats is still surprising. 

Why? Well, for starters, last September, President Biden (the leader of the Democratic Party) said the following: "The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over." Moreover, mask-wearing is clearly almost non-existent in most public places these days. It seems like—at long last—life is getting back to "normal". 

And yet, 1,862 Americans died of COVID-19 in the past week—and 2,923 have been hospitalized for COVID. So, how should we feel as a society about the pandemic? As usual, those Independents in the middle seem to have it right—COVID may not be an existential crisis anymore, but it's still here.

February 8, 2023