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Americans Are In Favor Of Vaccine Mandates. But Support Is Driven Mainly By Those Who Have Already Gotten The Jab.

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.


As cases rise nationwide due to the high number of unvaccinated Americans and the highly transmissible delta variant of the novel coronavirus, many governments and businesses have turned to vaccine mandates as a potential solution. Major corporations such as Google, Microsoft and The Walt Disney Company1 have recently announced that they will require in-person employees to be vaccinated, and President Biden (along with several state governors) will require their workers to attest that they are vaccinated or else face stringent masking, testing and social-distancing requirements.

Despite prominent voices on the right giving vaccine mandates labels such as “Orwellian,” they are actually pretty popular among the American public. And where they are controversial, it’s based less on partisanship than on whether the individuals have been vaccinated themselves.

First, the overall numbers. According to a late July Morning Consult poll, 56 percent of adults said employers should probably or definitely require COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees and customers; only 32 percent said they probably or definitely should not. That confidence extends to schools, too. Last month, Gallup found that 60 percent of Americans supported mandatory vaccines for high school students and 56 percent supported them for middle school students — although among K-12 parents, those numbers were notably lower (47 percent and 43 percent, respectively).


COVID-19 cases are rising. Americans’ thoughts on next steps. | FiveThirtyEight

Notably, the numbers don’t meaningfully change when Americans are asked about the government mandating vaccines for the general population. The COVID States Project, a polling consortium out of Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern universities, found in a June/July poll that 64 percent of Americans approved of the government requiring everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. All but three states (North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming) had a majority in favor of mandatory vaccines.

That’s because, while there is a partisan divide over mandatory vaccines, a healthy share of Republicans actually do support them too. Morning Consult found that 38 percent of Republicans supported company-mandated vaccines, albeit with 49 percent opposed. And the COVID States Project found that 45 percent of Republicans supported even government-mandated vaccines for all. Of course, these numbers paled in comparison to support among Democrats: 76 percent in the Morning Consult poll (with 15 percent opposed), 84 percent in the COVID States Project poll.

House Minority Whip speaks at a podium, with other GOP representatives and the congressional building behind him.

related: Some Republicans Have Changed Their Messaging On The COVID-19 Vaccine. Is It Too Little, Too Late? Read more. »

But these partisan divides are just proxies for the real schism over mandatory shots: individual vaccination status. For example, Morning Consult found that 74 percent of already-vaccinated people supported company-mandated vaccines, while 54 percent of unvaccinated people opposed them. Interestingly, 28 percent of unvaccinated people actually supported mandatory vaccines — if you are one of these people, we’d love to hear from you! 

All of this is a reminder that, even as vaccine hesitancy remains a very real problem, a “landslide majority” of Americans of every persuasion have happily gotten inoculated. And so while there are significant divides in who approves of vaccine mandates, overall support is consistently high — despite what you might hear on cable news. 

Other polling bites

  • Marquette University Law School is out with its annual poll on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Americans somewhat or strongly approve of the nation’s highest court 60 percent to 39 percent, making it, per the same poll, the most popular of the three branches of government. However, that approval rating was down 6 percentage points from last year, largely because of a decrease in popularity among Republicans. The public generally perceives the court as a center-right institution: A plurality of respondents (42 percent) rated the court as moderate, while 37 percent rated it as somewhat conservative.
  • In 10 of the countries polled by the Pew Research Center, that country’s political right was more likely than its left or center to think there should have been fewer coronavirus restrictions. In Greece, however, 55 percent of the political left thought there should have been fewer restrictions, but only 34 percent of the right. Unsurprisingly, though, it was the U.S. that had the largest gap between left and right: 52 percent of stateside conservatives wanted fewer restrictions, while only 7 percent of liberals did. (Turns out we win the gold medal for polarization too.)
  • Between massive wildfires and heat waves, it has been a grueling summer in the American West. Nearly half (47 percent) of Westerners told YouGov that the wildfires had affected them personally or that they had experienced reduced air quality from them. In addition, 53 percent said they had felt temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the past week.
  • In July, female gymnasts from Germany wore full-body unitards in protest of the “sexualization” of their typical uniform, and the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms. In North America at least, the public overwhelmingly sides with the athletes in this controversy. According to Léger, 82 percent of Canadians and 77 percent of Americans think female athletes should have the right to decide what uniform they want to wear at competitions.
  • A YouGov poll has found that 62 percent of American adults don’t know what “rickrolling” is, while 31 percent do — mostly those under age 35. For the full results, click here.

Biden approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker,2 50.4 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 43.3 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of +7.0 points). At this time last week, 51.4 percent approved and 43.3 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of +8.1 points). One month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 51.9 percent and a disapproval rating of 42.3 percent, for a net approval rating of +9.5 points.

CLARIFICATION (Aug. 9, 2021, 10:40 a.m.): This story has been updated to make clear that beach handball is not an Olympic sport.


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Footnotes

  1. FiveThirtyEight is owned by Disney.

  2. As of 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.

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