Unvaccinated Americans’ Thanksgiving meals are more likely to be indoors with other households

November 22, 2021, 5:01 PM UTC

The latest Economist/YouGov Poll offers a sign that Americans may be returning to at least some of their pre-pandemic way of life this Thanksgiving. More will be traveling for the holiday than did last year, though most will stay near home. Just over half will be reaching out beyond their immediate households, joining others in celebration. Last year, just one-third did. Like last year, many more Democrats than Republicans won’t share their Thanksgiving table with people they don’t live with.

That mirrors the broader difference between Democrats and Republicans around COVID-19 concern. Two-thirds of Democrats, compared with only about one-quarter of Republicans, are worried about a COVID outbreak linked to Thanksgiving celebrations.

Caution and concern around Thanksgiving also is greater among people who have gotten doses of a vaccine intended to protect them from infection and serious illness. Americans who have received at least one first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are less likely to be celebrating indoors with people outside their households than are Americans who say they will not get vaccinated. And the people who reject vaccines generally are less concerned than vaccinated Americans about the possibility that they might personally contract COVID-19.

While Americans may be more willing to celebrate with more households than they were a year ago, the topic of COVID-19 remains a presence at their Thanksgiving tables. Nearly half (48%) say they expect to observe the holiday with at least one person who is not vaccinated.

One in five (19%) Americans expect COVID will prompt arguments around their Thanksgiving table. The share is even higher among American adults under the age of 30 (30%), Americans in the West (26%), and Democrats (22%). 

But Thanksgiving get-togethers always bring the risk of arguments: sometimes about football, sometimes about politics. Last year, 17% said there have been political arguments at their Thanksgivings, the same percentage who say this today. Many of the political and the pandemic disagreements are happening in the same households, as COVID-19 opinion often splits along party lines. Half of Americans who say there are political arguments at their Thanksgiving tables anticipate arguments about COVID-19 this year, as well.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between November 14 and November 16, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, and region based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample. 

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