Reuters/Ipsos polls show Americans are increasingly turning away from the coronavirus and focusing their attention elsewhere, particularly toward rising consumer prices and other areas of the economy where Democrats don’t trust Democrats, a shift that could play into the Republicans’ favour. in the midterm elections next year.
As COVID-19 continues to claim more than 1,000 people a day in the United States, a national poll conducted October 18-22 showed that the country’s focus on public health and disease has faded since the start of the year. In October, only 12% of US adults rated public health problems such as the coronavirus as a top national priority, down from 20% in February.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of the country’s population, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents, say “inflation is a big concern to me.”
Americans are also keeping a close eye on the labor market in the era of the pandemic, as companies struggle to find enough workers while millions of people remain unemployed: a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 73% of adults want political leaders to focus their attention on jobs and economic growth.
It’s a dramatic shift in the political landscape in just one year. Joe Biden and his Democratic Party won the White House and control of Congress last year in a campaign focused on the pandemic and the handling of former President Donald Trump.
Democrats have already failed to keep pace with the surge in the vote for conservative candidates that helped Republicans win this week’s Virginia governor’s race and run into a surprisingly competitive race in New Jersey. Now, it seems that what used to be the most important issue for Democrats is no longer on their minds.
“Americans are ready to stop worrying about the coronavirus” after nearly two years, said Nicholas Valentino, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan.
“When they look around they see other problems that need to be addressed,” Valentino said. “They see job listings everywhere. They wait in long lines at the groceries. They wait for things to be delivered because the supply chain is slow.”
Last November, the majority of voters — 61% — said COVID-19 was a “significant factor” in determining their choice of president, and those voters supported Biden over Trump by a margin of 52% to 46%, according to polls. from the 2020 elections.
Biden entered office with the approval of 55% of the country, and has been praised for aggressively securing millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine and nearly $2 trillion in subsidies from Congress.
Since then, Biden’s popularity has plummeted, even among Democrats and independents who helped him in office.
Public approval of Biden’s record on the economy, immigration and national unity, and even of his response to the coronavirus, has waned nearly every month since April, according to the poll.
Overall, approval of Biden’s performance in office now hovers near year lows. The latest weekly poll shows that 44% of US adults approve of the president, which is an 11 percentage point drop since January, while 51% disagree, up 19 points in the same period.
“Those swing voters who were so worried about Donald Trump’s failures a year ago may not be happy with the way things are now,” said Donald Green, an expert on voter turnout at Columbia University. “This is why so many Democrats are nervous.”
Priorities for 2022
Besides the economy, a Reuters/Ipsos poll in October showed that both parties had aligned around a series of principles that could increase the vote among their core supporters as the coronavirus fades into the background.
Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats favor higher taxes for the wealthy, 76% say climate change should be every country’s top concern, while 78% say it’s too easy to get guns.
On the other side of the political spectrum, 95% of Republicans support at least one of the party’s core tenets: prioritizing the economy over all other issues, vigilance over inflation, tax cuts, and government deregulation.
They are also less likely than Democrats and independents to support the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus. About half of Republicans – 51% – oppose the requirement for protective masks in schools, while 44% support them. By comparison, only 8% of Democrats and 30% of Independents oppose school mask mandates.
With the midterms approaching a year later, neither side has a significant advantage in political participation: 61% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans say they are “absolutely sure” they will vote.
Reuters/Ipsos polls are conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. The most recent survey was conducted on a large sample October 18-22, and collected responses from 4,430 adults, including 2001 Democrats, 1,591 Republicans, and 465 Independents. The results have a validity period, the accuracy scale, between 2 and 5 percentage points.
(Covering) Written by Chris Kahn, Editing by Sooyoung Kim and Alistair Bell
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.