Democrats are far more likely than Republicans – and to a lesser extent independent voters – to have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, support new pandemic restrictions and actually worry about the severity of the delta variant.
That’s according to a nationwide poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute released Aug. 2, and it comes as federal health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at the state level the Murphy administration, urge everyone to wear masks indoors amid this latest surge.
“[B]ecause of the partisan divide in the country, as a whole … it’s affected the pandemic from the very state in a way that probably in the past, we would have more public unity,” said Patrick Murray, who heads the institute.
Under the latest guidance, anyone in high-transmission areas – virtually any indoor public place – should wear a face-covering regardless of their vaccination status.
Cases and total hospitalizations have risen to their highest levels in months in what Gov. Phil Murphy and many public health experts and officials have frequently called a “pandemic among the unvaccinated.”
Daily cases rose past 1,000 on July 29 for the first time since May 8, and hospitalizations have continued to rise past 400 total COVID-19 patients–the highest since the spring.
The transmission rate, positivity rate among tests, and the number of patients on ventilators and in critical care have all also crept to their highest levels since the spring.
Just over 5.1 million people who live, work or study in New Jersey have been fully vaccinated out of the state’s 9 million residents, with nearly 257,000 of them being children as young as 12.
“It put us just at the edge of potentially being able to deal with this” variant, Murray said of the current vaccination rates. “If the variants are more infectious, that means you have less of a breathing room.”
According to internal documents from the CDC, the delta variant could spread as easily as the chickenpox – across those who are vaccinated, even though the inoculation nonetheless makes the person safer from the adverse health effects of the virus.
But the nationwide poll, which relied on the responses of 804 American adults interviewed by phone between July 21 and 26, showed largely divided reactions to the latest development of the pandemic based on political affiliation.
And at the state level, Republican former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who is running for governor, has aggressively courted the “vaccine freedom” voting constituent, arguing that parents should have new means to exempt their school-age children from all manner of immunizations, especially the COVID-19 shot, as well as shots such as measles and mumps.
According to the poll, 92% of Democratic respondents said they’ve already received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 51% of Republicans and 59% of independent voters. Among Republicans, 31% said they will “likely never get” the shot.
While demand was high for the vaccine in the winter and spring, that has slowed dramatically both in New Jersey and nationwide.
“The folks that are hesitant and continue to be hesitant can be convinced with better outreach” and “more effective communication,” Murray continued.
Ninety-one percent of Democrats said they were very or somewhat concerned about a new wave because not enough people have gotten vaccinated, compared to 57% of independents and 47% of Republicans.
While 48% of Democrats were concerned that a family member could get COVID-19, just 22% of Republicans shared those fears, compared to 21% of independents.
According to the report, 71% of Democrats were very or somewhat concerned about catching the delta variant, compared to 40% of independents and 30% of Republicans.
Monmouth found that 60% of Democrats felt that the CDC’s messaging about the pandemic has been “largely consistent.” On the other hand, 79% of Republicans and 63% of voters felt the CDC put out “mixed messages.”
The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.