New polling released yesterday by the Pew Research Center provides the answer to one of the bigger political questions surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially here in Colorado: does the public support the sweeping measures taken to slow the spread of the disease–measures that many high-profile Republicans in this state in have condemned and in some cases promised to disobey?
The answer, overwhelmingly, is yes:
The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that despite the partisan differences in views on several aspects of the outbreak, there also are important areas of agreement. Notably, majorities in both parties say it is necessary to impose strict limitations on commerce, travel and entertainment in order to address the outbreak. [Pols emphasis]
About seven-in-ten adults (71%) say that to address the coronavirus, it is necessary to require most businesses other than grocery stores or pharmacies to close. A larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (81%) than Republicans and GOP leaners (61%) view this requirement as necessary.
An even larger majority (85%) thinks it is necessary to limit restaurants to carry-out only. And with a growing number of states announcing delays of their upcoming primary elections, 70% say this is a necessary step to take because of the coronavirus.
With most of the various COVID-19 response measures polled, the partisan split in opinion was very small. Around 95% of both Republicans and Democrats support restricting international travel, and Republicans support both cancelling major events and closing K-12 schools at or above 85%. The widest partisan disparity of opinion is over the temporary closure of most businesses, and even on this point 61% of Republicans agree it’s a necessary measure. The one figure that irritates Democrats in this poll, 48% approval of Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic so far, is less important than the lopsided support shown for the strong measures being implemented by state governments. With the benefit of hindsight, the former (Trump) will take a much greater hit than the latter (states fighting the pandemic).
What does this mean for our local politics? In the simplest terms, it means that once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised. Based on these numbers, and especially if the pandemic in the U.S. continues to worsen, Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.
Between now and then, we can only hope the real-world harm they do will not be too great.