June 25, 2020 — Most Americans support taking steps to control the spread of the coronavirus, new polling data show. Three measures — mandatory temperature checks before entering enclosed public spaces, wearing masks once inside, and required isolation for people who test positive — received the strongest support. But that support was skewed by political leanings.
The new survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University found that overall, more than three-quarters of Americans support those three restrictions.
“These are big numbers for pretty intrusive requirements. But, research has shown that during times of crisis, Americans are more supportive of regulations that arguably infringe on personal freedoms,” Krista Jenkins, PhD, a professor of politics and government and director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll that conducted the survey, says in a statement.
When sorted according to respondents’ approval of the way President Donald Trump has responded to the pandemic, though, the numbers look very different.
Among Trump critics, 90% or more agree with all three restrictions. Far fewer of his supporters do: Less than two-thirds believe in mandating masks, and just 80% say yes to isolation and temperature checks.
“Masks are becoming political Rorschach tests,” Jenkins says. “For some, they’re necessary safeguards against the virus, while for others they’re intrusions into one’s personal freedom. Partisan loyalties have intersected with how many Americans interpret coronavirus protective measures.”
The difference in opinion between Trump supporters and critics carry over when results are broken out by party affiliation. Disparities emerged with every restriction the survey covered, including alerting those around you if you become infected (87% of Democrats support it, vs. 64% of Republicans), sharing personal health information with the government (76% vs. 39%), mandatory vaccinations (80% vs. 47%), and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people (79% vs. 46%).
The survey found demographic differences, too: Women were more likely than men to approve of restrictions. And Black people were significantly more supportive than white respondents — their support for masks was nearly universal, while just under three-quarters of white people agreed.
The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,003 adults over the age of 18 nationwide, via landline and cellphone, between May 20 and May 25. The margin of error is +/-3.6 percentage points.