Sixty-six percent of Democrats, or roughly two of every three, reported they are “very concerned” about a family member being infected, according to a Monmouth University poll conducted from 3-7 April. That’s up from 58 per cent in a poll three weeks earlier.
But only 37 per cent (up from 24 per cent) of Republicans reported feeling “very concerned” about a family member contracting Covid-19, the viral illness that has caused a global pandemic, shut down broad swaths of the US economy, and killed more than 28,000 Americans by Monday.
Independents who reported being “very concerned” fall in the middle at 46 per cent, up from 31 per cent.
Half of the total respondents to the poll said they were “very concerned” about a family member becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, up from 38 per cent three weeks ago. Another 33 per cent reported feeling “somewhat concerned.” Nine percent said they are “not too concerned,” and 7 per cent said they are “not concerned at all.”
Roughly one in 14 people Monmouth pollsters surveyed said someone in their family has gotten the coronavirus. Racial minority groups reported a disproportionately higher infection rate among family members.
“Americans feel an increasing impact from this public health crisis every week, maybe even every day. These results also underscore how certain groups, particularly [minority] groups, are being hit harder than others,” said Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray.
Pollsters for Monmouth conducted the survey by telephone with 857 US adults participating from 3-7 April. The full poll results have a margin of error of +/- 3.4 per centage points, with slightly larger margins of error for the party breakdowns.
Multiple factors, including political geography and tendencies between the parties towards different news sources, have contributed to the rift in attitudes about the coronavirus between Democrats and Republicans, experts have speculated.
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to live in rural areas that have not been as heavily affected by the pandemic, whereas Democrats are more densely populated in cities such as New York, Seattle, and San Francisco that have higher rates of infection.
Republicans are also much more statistically inclined to tune into Fox News, where for weeks in February and much of March prime-time hosts, such as Sean Hannity, and their guests downplayed the severity of the disease. Not too long ago, Donald Trump, the GOP standard-bearer, considered Democratic warnings about the coronavirus’ deadliness a “hoax” to tank the US economy and hinder his reelection campaign. Mr Trump also repeatedly compared Covid-19 to the common flu. (He later tried to clarify is “hoax” remarks to be describing his view of Democrats’ criticisms of the federal response, which they have called too slow.)
Attitudes have begun to shift among GOP respondents, however.
While Republicans may not report being “very concerned” about coronavirus, that doesn’t mean the infection isn’t weighing on their minds. While just 20 per cent reported feeling “very concerned” on Sunday to Civiqs, which is tracking attitudes on a daily basis, 33 per cent said they are “moderately concerned,” 32 per cent reported feeling “a little concerned,” and just 14 per cent said they were not concerned at all.