Friday, March 13, 2020


If you think the coronavirus might be what finally makes Republican voters change their minds about Donald Trump, the evidence makes clear that it's not happening yet, in part because Republicans -- clearly taking their cues from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the president -- don't think the virus is a big deal. FiveThirtyEight's Likhitha Butchireddygari has the numbers:
... there are some pretty stark differences in how Democrats and Republicans view the threat of coronavirus.... as you can see in the table below, a partisan split is emerging:

... This partisan loyalty is somewhat reflected in Americans’ approval of how President Trump is handling the coronavirus. Overall, between 37 and 47 percent said they approve of the way Trump has handled coronavirus, according to six polls conducted between March 1 and March 8. But as you can see in the table, there is a sharp partisan split.

The numbers, particularly in the Quinnipiac, Times, and Economist surveys, look almost exactly like Trump's overall approval numbers.

This is confirmed by a new ABC News/Ipsos poll that just appeared:
Although unease over the coronavirus is high, it also strongly breaks along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 83% are concerned about getting coronavirus, including 47% who are very concerned, and among Republicans, 56% are concerned, including only 15% who are very concerned. Only 17% of Democrats are not concerned while a larger 44% of Republicans are not concerned....

A majority of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the president's handling of the response to the coronavirus, while 43% approve. Still, partisanship continues to fuel attitudes towards the White House's response, with the same amount of Democrats disapproving of Trump's managing of the health crisis as Republicans approving, 86%. Only 14% of Democrats approve, and 11% of Republicans disapprove.
And then there's this, from a New York Times reporter who's also worked for The Atlantic and The Daily Beast, but who was once a William F. Buckley Fellow at National Review:

That's a high bar. Some responses to this tweet:

At FiveThirtyEight, Butchireddygari writes:
It’s important to remember though that some of the partisan split we’re currently seeing might change, especially if the virus continues to spread. And at this point, much of the polling we have is in the wake of relatively few public cases, concentrated largely in a few states — Washington, New York and California. [Professor Melina] Platas told me that this could mean that some of the policy and personal guidelines have been entirely hypothetical for some people. But, she added, as the virus spreads and hits people closer to home, the threat may become more real and perhaps the partisan divide will narrow.
I think the coronavirus crisis will get much worse, and will touch many corners of America that think they're immune -- but I also believe it will continue to be worse in highly populated metropolitan areas than it is in the outer-ring suburbs and rural areas where Republican voters live. I keep having this thought: What if we urban elitists really do manage to flatten the curve? What if our efforts significantly slow transmission?

My guess is that non-urban Trump voters will say, "See? We told you it was all hype intended to drive Trump out of office." They'll say they knew they were at low risk, even though we will be the ones who lowered the risk for them.

I think the spread of the virus will be bad enough that even Republican voters will have to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem (at which they'll start blaming liberals and "open borders"). But we might save some of their asses because we raised the alarm -- and then they'll just laugh at us for being concerned at all.

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