March 25, 2020

Republicans Divided on Coronavirus Severity
in Potential Reflection of Presidential Defiance

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

A national poll that was taken by a prominent consultant for the GOP in Texas suggests that three out of every 10 Republicans don't appear to be that scared about the coronavirus even though they're not buying into President Donald Trump's characterization of the global pandemic a month ago as a hoax that the liberal media was perpetuating to boost the Democrats.

The survey that Chris Perkins conducted found that 69 percent of Americans are taking the disease very seriously including 83 percent of the Democrats and 70 percent of the independent voters in the sample. But only 53 percent of the Republicans who participated in the Perkins poll agreed that COVID-19 posed a dire threat to the public health.

An Austin-based pollster who's the leading partner in the firm Ragnar Research, Perkins indicated that 19 percent of all voters were only mildly concerned about the coronavirus even though they viewed the malady as a somewhat serious threat. Twenty-nine percent of the Republicans who Perkins polled fell into this category.

Six percent of the survey's participants claimed that they didn't see COVID-19 as a serious concern despite a soaring number of confirmed cases across the country and a rapidly rising death toll in states that have been hit the hardest like New York, Louisiana and California. The poll found that 8 percent of Republicans weren't taking the disease seriously while 10 percent of independents and only 4 percent of Democrats shared the same basic lack of concern about the novel illness.

The split among Republicans on the degree of dangers that they perceived from the disease appeared to be a product of dramatically conflicting messages on the devastating potential of the coronavirus in a nation where Trump has been contradicting medical and scientific experts repeatedly in recent weeks.

But the poll results also appear to suggest that a significant majority of Americans aren't as optimistic as the president with his plans to jump start a collapsing national economy with an end to social distancing by the Easter weekend just two weeks from now.

The U.S. Senate that Republicans control seemed to be dead serious about the extent of the damage that that the coronavirus is causing as it prepared to vote on Wednesday night on a $2 trillion emergency package after intensive negotiations with the White House.

But the coronavirus plan could be doomed in the U.S. House when Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies are portraying the Senate bill as a massive corporate bailout that isn't as generous to rank-and-file Americans who've lost their jobs as a consequence of the crisis. The lion's share of the residents in the major cities have been isolated in their homes for a week or more while only businesses that provide essential goods and services to survival are operating now.


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