The coronavirus is surging across the United States. Largely because of the refusal of millions of Americans to get vaccinated, coronavirus cases have increased more than tenfold since early July.
In order to slow the spread of the virus, legislators across the country have begun instating vaccine and mask mandates for certain public spaces. On Wednesday, the state of Washington introduced a vaccine mandate for all school employees, and the Biden Administration announced that all nursing home staff must be vaccinated for their facilities to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. Republican legislators have fought back fiercely against these mandates — lashing out against the Centers for Disease Control and introducing legislation to ban vaccine and mask mandates.
Republican legislators are betting that they can win over voters by lambasting these mandates. But in a new mid-August survey, we find that voters are firmly in support of these requirements: an overwhelming majority of Americans — including clear majorities of Independents and a high number of Republicans — support vaccine and mask mandates for various public spaces and professions.
Voters Support Vaccine Mandates for Planes, Restaurants, and Other Public Spaces
In our survey, we asked voters whether they support requiring vaccination for entry into certain public spaces. We find that for all nine spaces we tested, vaccine mandates are highly popular — including more than 55 percent of Independents and more than 35 percent of Republicans in favor of each.
Requiring vaccinations to board planes was the most popular item we tested, with a +40-point margin of voter support, including a +76-point majority of Democrats, a +38-point majority of Independents, and a +1-point plurality of Republicans. Voters also support vaccine mandates for hospitals and clinics, concerts, gyms, public transportation, and bars and nightclubs by at least a +30-point margin, and at restaurants, grocery stores, and churches by a more than +20-point margin.
Voters Across Party Lines Support Mask Mandates in Certain Public Spaces
Next, we tested voter support for mask mandates in the same nine public spaces we tested for vaccine mandates. Not only do we find that a majority of voters — including overwhelming majorities of Democrats and Independents — support requiring masks in each space we tested, but there was not a single item that was opposed by a majority or plurality of Republicans.
Republican voters support mask mandates in hospitals and clinics by a +36-point margin, on planes by a +26-point margin, on public transit by a +21-point margin, in grocery stores by a +2-point margin, at concerts by a +7-point margin, at bars and nightclubs by a +5-point margin, and at churches by a +1-point margin. Republicans are split evenly regarding mask mandates for restaurants, and support requiring masks at gyms by a +2-point margin.
Voters Support Vaccine Mandates for Various Professions, as Well as for K-12 Schools and Universities
Next, we tested support for requiring employees in certain professions to be vaccinated. For four of the professions we tested — nurses and doctors; police officers, firefighters and EMTs; teachers and educators; and airline pilots and crew — requiring vaccination was supported by at least a +50-point margin of voters. For each of these professions, a majority of Republican voters favor vaccine mandates, with support levels of 58 percent, 55 percent, 53 percent, and 54 percent, respectively.
Clear majorities of voters also support vaccine mandates for public transit staff, restaurant and grocery staff, mail carriers and delivery service workers, politicians and government employees, and construction workers — including more than 60 percent of Independents and more than 40 percent of Republicans in favor of each.
We also find majority support for requiring vaccination for all public school students who are 12 years or older (children aged 11 and younger aren’t currently eligible for the vaccine). This includes a +61-point margin of Democrats, a +19-point margin of Independents, and over a third of Republicans.
We also find strong voter support for requiring university students to be vaccinated to attend university classes, including a +73-point margin of Democrats, a +27-point margin of Independents, and over two-fifths of Republicans.
As city, state, and federal legislators push to require vaccines and masks for certain public spaces and professions, they should feel confident that these actions will strengthen — not erode — voter support. Vaccine and mask mandates are highly popular with both Democrats and Independents, and none of the varieties we tested are strongly opposed by Republicans — in fact, some receive majority Republican support. Moving forward, legislators should not view concerns over political popularity as a reason to avoid essential public health measures to increase rates of vaccination and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Toplines for this polling can be found here.
Written by Lew Blank (@LewBlank), a senior writer at Data for Progress. Cross-posted from Data for Progress