While many voters have become skeptical toward the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of Democrats embrace restrictive policies, including punitive measures against those who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.
A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 48% of voters favor President Joe Biden’s plan to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on the employees of large companies and government agencies. That includes 33% who Strongly Favor the mandate. Forty-eight percent (48%) are opposed to Biden’s vaccine mandate, including 40% who Strongly Oppose the mandate. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Voters are similarly divided over the federal government’s top COVID-19 expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Forty-five percent (45%) view Fauci favorably, including 28% who have a Very Favorable impression of him. Forty-eight percent (48%) have an unfavorable impression of Fauci, including 34% who have a Very Unfavorable view of him.
The even split among voters is the result of deep partisan divisions. While 78% of Democratic voters support the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate plan, only 22% of Republicans and 41% of voters not affiliated with either major party support the vaccine mandate. And many Democrats would support even harsher measures, including fines for Americans who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine and criminal punishment for vaccine critics.
“After two excruciatingly long years, likely voters are beginning to question the federal government’s handling of the pandemic,” said Chris Talgo, senior editor and research fellow at The Heartland Institute, which commissioned this poll. “First and foremost, likely voters are beginning to sour on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who seems to have lost credibility after countless flip-flops.”
Talgo continued: “Moreover, almost half of likely voters oppose President Biden’s vaccine mandates, which seem less about stopping the spread of COVID-19 and more about increasing the power of the federal government. When asked about several other potential strategies, such as fining those who refuse to get vaccinated, the consensus among likely voters is that the federal government should do less, not more.”
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The survey of 1,016 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on January 5, 2022 by the Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
The survey found that 75% of likely Democratic voters – but only 21% of Republicans and 38% of unaffiliated voters – have a favorable opinion of Dr. Fauci. Among other findings of the survey:
– Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters would oppose a proposal for federal or state governments to fine Americans who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, 55% of Democratic voters would support such a proposal, compared to just 19% of Republicans and 25% of unaffiliated voters.
– Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a proposal is opposed by 61% of all likely voters, including 79% of Republicans and 71% of unaffiliated voters.
– Nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications. Only 27% of all voters – including just 14% of Republicans and 18% of unaffiliated voters – favor criminal punishment of vaccine critics.
– Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats would favor governments requiring citizens to temporarily live in designated facilities or locations if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a policy would be opposed by a strong majority (71%) of all voters, with 78% of Republicans and 64% of unaffiliated voters saying they would Strongly Oppose putting the unvaccinated in “designated facilities.”
– While about two-thirds (66%) of likely voters would be against governments using digital devices to track unvaccinated people to ensure that they are quarantined or socially distancing from others, 47% of Democrats favor a government tracking program for those who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.
How far are Democrats willing to go in punishing the unvaccinated? Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Democratic voters would support temporarily removing parents’ custody of their children if parents refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s much more than twice the level of support in the rest of the electorate – seven percent (7%) of Republicans and 11% of unaffiliated voters – for such a policy.
The survey also found that more black voters (63%) than whites (45%), Hispanics (55%) or other minorities (32%) support Biden’s vaccine mandate for government workers and employees of large companies.
President Biden’s strongest supporters are most likely to endorse the harshest punishments against those who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. Among voters who have a Very Favorable impression of Biden, 51% are in favor of government putting the unvaccinated in “designated facilities,” and 54% favor imposing fines or prison sentences on vaccine critics. By contrast, among voters who have a Very Unfavorable view of Biden, 95% are against “designated facilities” for the unvaccinated and 93% are against criminal punishment for vaccine critics.
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 produces a spike in cases nationwide, about three-quarters of Americans are already vaccinated against the coronavirus, and two-thirds of those have gotten booster shots.
Most Americans are concerned about new variants of the COVID-19 virus, but Democrats are more concerned than others, and place more trust in vaccines to protect against the disease.
Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to the public as well as Platinum Members.
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