Yahoo News/YouGov: Most Americans are worried about COVID-19—but not Republicans

Linley SandersData Journalist
March 12, 2020, 9:30 PM UTC

This poll was first published in the Yahoo News’ article “New Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows Republicans largely dismiss threat of coronavirus

As COVID-19 cases are diagnosed across America, a partisanship schism has emerged where Democrats are taking the deadly virus more seriously than Republicans.

The World Health Organization declared on Wednesday that the novel coronavirus’ spread has risen to the level of a pandemic. But a plurality of Republicans (37%) believes that will not be the case in America. Just 28 percent of Republicans believe COVID-19 will spread to the entire country—a 30-point gap from the majority of Democrats who believe it will (58%).

A majority of Americans (84%) are following the coronavirus news at least “somewhat closely,” according to a Yahoo News/YouGov Poll. But even though people are following the news, a plurality (44%) of Americans believe the threat of the virus is being exaggerated. This poll was conducted between March 10-11—prior to President Donald Trump announcing a limited travel ban between the US and Europe, the several sports leagues suspending their season, and actor Tom Hanks testing positive for COVID-19. 

Yahoo News/YouGov: Partisanship and American attitudes toward COVID-19

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Nearly three-fourths of Democrats (74%) say they are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about COVID-19 while fewer than half of Republicans (45%) say the same. A majority of Americans overall (57%) are worried about the coronavirus.

Most Americans (58%) are washing their hands more frequently as a result of coronavirus, according to the Yahoo News/YouGov Poll. Those who are 65 and older—and therefore are at a higher risk for complications from the virus—have increased hand-washing (72%), avoiding crowded public places (48%), and have stopped shaking hands (37%).

A plurality of Americans (36%) overall believes that most people are overreacting to the actual risks of the coronavirus, but that isn't the case for older Americans. A plurality of Americans older than 65 believes most people are behaving appropriately (38%). One in five Americans (20%) believe the general public is underreacting to COVID-19.

Methodology: This Yahoo News/YouGov survey is based on 1,635 interviews of US adults, including 569 Democrats and 406 Republicans. This survey was conducted from March 6 - 8, 2020. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Related: COVID-19 report - How the virus is affecting everything, from politics to brands

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Yahoo News/YouGov Poll

Image: Getty