Americans split on whether it’s racist to call COVID-19 the Chinese virus

March 27, 2020, 3:00 PM GMT+0

Two-thirds of Americans see China as responsible for the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean they approve of people using terms like “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu” to describe it. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans are divided on whether those terms are racist or not – and much of that opinion depends on a person’s age, race, and partisanship.

Those under the age of 45 see those descriptions as racist, those older do not. A majority of white Americans don’t find the descriptors racist, but half of non-whites do. Democrats and Republicans disagree on the meaning of these terms.

Democrats are far less likely than Republicans to attribute responsibility to China for the virus: a majority (54%) of Democrats agree that China is responsible, that is still much lower than the nearly all Republicans (90%) who do.

About one in five adults have used one of more of the terms themselves, with Republicans four times more likely than Democrats to say this. Men are three times as likely as women to use them, but there is little age difference. However, only 6 percent of Black Americans admit they have described the coronavirus that way.

Hispanic Americans and those of other races are just about as likely as whites to have used those terms.

One in ten of those who have used terms like “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu” admit those terms are racist.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll

Related: About half of America believes the economy is getting worse, the highest since 2011

Image: Getty