As a COVID-19 vaccine edges closer to reality, Americans are edging closer to accepting one. In the last week, the share of the voting public in the Economist/YouGov Poll that would be willing to be vaccinated has risen six points. This increase occurs among both those voting for the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, and for President Donald Trump.
The President’s supporters remain divided on whether or not they will be vaccinated, at 37% to 37%, while fairly large percentages among both voting groups say they aren’t sure what they will do.
Support for vaccination dropped sharply in late September and remained low until this week’s poll. The President’s own COVID-19 diagnosis had little impact on this question.
Most of the public don’t expect a vaccine to be ready anytime soon though. Just one in four think it will be available to the public by the end of the year. Trump supporters are much more optimistic, with 46% expecting a vaccine by the end of the year, following the President’s promise that a vaccine would be available by November. Just 6% of Biden voters expect the vaccine in 2020.
Even those voters who are willing to be vaccinated are still concerned about a fast-tracked vaccine’s safety, however. As many as two in three (66%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about potential problems. Unsurprisingly, those who would refuse a vaccination are even more likely to harbor doubts, at 79%.
There continues to be dissatisfaction with President Trump’s handling of the pandemic. This week, 42% overall approve, but 56% disapprove.
Trump’s supporters continue to be less worried than others that they might contract the virus. Only one in three Trump voters express even some worry about contracting the virus; more than twice as many Biden supporters are worried. Likewise, Trump supporters are less likely to have experienced personal loss from this virus. While a quarter of Biden voters have a close friend or family member who has died from COVID-19, this figure is only 15% among Trump voters.
Perhaps as a result, the President’s supporters have a very different view on how the pandemic is progressing. Two in five (41%) say social distancing is no longer necessary, compared to 2% of Biden voters.
Half (47%) of Trump supporters say the worst part of the pandemic is behind us, while just 4% of Biden supporters say the same. And when asked what they think the final COVID-19 U.S. death total for this year will be, 43% of Trump voters gave a figure that is actually lower than the number of deaths currently being reported (more than 216,000). Only 14% of Biden voters thought the tally would be this low.
Two-thirds of the President’s voters believe mandatory mask regulations violate their civil liberties, and only two in five always wear a mask when they leave their home. Men who support the President are more likely than women Trump voters to say these things (71% vs. 55%).
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between October 18 - 20, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.