Americans have made up their minds about vaccines — and vaccine mandates. Whether they’re asked about mandatory vaccines for members of Congress, doctors, or schoolchildren, the level of support is about the same.
Americans’ opinions on vaccine mandates have become so hardened that changing words, arguments, or information may make little difference in changing minds and actions. An experiment with question wording in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll demonstrates just how firmly people hold their view of vaccine mandates, no matter how they’re described.
In the poll, respondents were randomly split into two groups, and each group was asked to respond to a different vaccine mandate question, either:
“Mandates at some workplaces requiring workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 have led to some workers getting vaccinated. Do you agree or disagree with the mandates?”
“Mandates at some workplaces requiring workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 have led to some workers losing their jobs because they refuse to get vaccinated. Do you agree or disagree with the mandates?”
The two questions were very different. One question explicitly pointed out only a seemingly positive effect of mandates (people getting vaccinations), the other only a seemingly negative one (people losing their jobs).
But the responses were nearly identical. While slightly more people reacted negatively to mandates when told that some workers had lost their jobs, the differences were small and barely significant. And the same goes for subsets of respondents. Democrats, and people who are fully vaccinated, are most in favor of workplace mandates in both cases. Republicans (who are significantly less likely than Democrats to be fully vaccinated – the gap is 29 points in this poll) oppose mandates. People who say they will not get vaccinated are overwhelmingly opposed to mandates, no matter how the question is asked.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between October 3 - 5, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.1% for the overall sample.