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How partisan is concern about coronavirus?

On the one hand:

Texas’ economy is taking a catastrophic hit — and hundreds of thousands of Texans are out of work — as officials shutter businesses and limit some establishment’s operations to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. But while Texans’ optimism about the state’s economy has fallen, they largely support those measures, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Two-thirds of registered Texas voters agree with decisions by Gov. Greg Abbott and several local officials to suspend nonessential business operations. And more than three-quarters of voters support orders to stay home except for essential activities. The poll’s findings come as Abbott says he will soon announce plans to reopen a wide range of Texas businesses.

Some hardline Republicans have pressured Abbott, who has taken a middle-ground approach in responding to the global health crisis, to relax his statewide stay-at-home order. And Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has suggested that saving the economy was more important than responding to the coronavirus. But after first making that suggestion last month, Patrick has experienced an uptick of disapproval among two groups: registered voters over 65 and independents. The poll was conducted before Patrick went on national television this week and said “there are more important things than living” as he advocated for reopening the economy.

“To the extent that some people are saying Republicans are beating down the doors of their houses… there is no evidence of that in this poll,” said James Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “There’s not evidence of resisting serious measures.”

On the other hand:

Texas voters are concerned about the coronavirus and believe it presents a serious crisis, and they are deeply worried about the economy, unemployment and the health care system. But they also think the disease could be contained enough to return daily life to normal within a few months, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The coronavirus pandemic is a serious crisis, according to 66% of registered Texas voters, while 26% say it’s “a serious problem but not a crisis.” Democrats are more likely than Republicans to call it a crisis: 91% said so, compared with 48% of Republicans. And urban voters (75%) were more likely to call it a crisis than suburban voters (66%) or rural voters (54%). While 81% of black voters say the pandemic is a serious crisis, only 66% of Hispanic and 65% of white voters agreed.

“Partisans are relying on different sources of information,” said Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “They’re hearing something different. It’s not that Republicans don’t think it’s a crisis. It’s that they don’t think the Democrats are getting good information.”

A majority of voters (54%) are “extremely” or “very” concerned that the coronavirus will spread in their communities. Again, the poll found differences: The level of concern is higher among Democrats than Republicans, urban voters over suburban and rural voters, and black and Hispanic Texans over white voters.

Large majorities are “extremely” or “very” concerned about the national and state economies, unemployment and the health care system. At the same time, 43% say they’re satisfied with the health care system, while 52% are not.

The economic concerns erase party lines: 72% of Texas voters are “extremely” or “very” concerned about the national economy, and 67% say the same about the state economy. Worry over unemployment — 75% say it’s a top concern — is also amplified. Democrats (83%) were a bit more likely than Republicans (71%) to express deep concern, but the issue is clearly on the minds of a substantial majority of Texas voters.

“These attitudes are, to some extent, evidence that social distancing has worked,” Blank said. “People are more concerned about the economy. You might have no chance of getting the virus because you’re not leaving your house, but you could still lose your job. That affects more people directly than the coronavirus does.”

I don’t know what to make of that. To be honest, there may not be that much to make of it – it may just be a matter of question wording, or emphasis. It’s still the case that 72% of Republicans are at least “somewhat” concerned about coronavirus spreading in their community. It should be higher, but it’s a solid majority. And any time there’s an uptick in disapproval for Dan Patrick, things can’t all be bad. Let’s make sure we’re saving all that video for the 2022 campaign, please.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    This is a decision fraught with danger for the GOP.

    First, at some point, businesses need to reopen. I think June is a better look than May. Its true that some within the GOP are trying to set up a political dynamic where they blame Democrats who are arguing for continued mitigation metrics for the economic fallout from COVID-19. They apoear to be treating COVID-19 as a political, rather than a medical problem. They fear that if they cannot get the economy restarted – and fast – Trump will lose nationally, the Dems will take the Texas house, and theyll take the US Senate at a minimum.

    The problem is that if COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths rise again, the GOP will take 100% of the blame here. Its a bold risk.

    If things continue to muddle along at current levels of hospitalization, I think they dont gain much.

    If the disease mutates away, they might get a minor benefit. I think scandals with the SBA response and bailouts will remove any benefit from that.

    So if everything works out perfectly for the GOP.. its still a wash. No upside and lots of downside.

    Abbott had nothing to win and everything to lose by overriding the counties and cities. Why did he do this? I suspect it has a lot to do with the far right wing, which has been screaming to reopen now at any cost and even has been trying to claim COVID-19 is a hoax or overblown. He is also counting on short memories by swing voters who he might make angry and long memories by his far right wing flank.

    I do fear that Abbott, now that he has cast his lot with the open now crowd, will seek to pretend any rise in cases isnt happening because any mitigation methods will necessarily highlight his mistake in opening up too soon and overriding the cities/counties.

    I hope were done with COVID-19. But if we arent…prominent supporters of open up now such as Abbott and Kubosh will be rather vulnerable. Theyre way out on a limb.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Off topic, but Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are holding a ‘virtual town hall’ on women’s issues, right now. Streaming on Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmLeQeSweCk

    I figured some folks here might be interested.

  3. brad says:

    Off topic, but a bit about Trump’s complete and utter dishonesty at the time of our country’s greatest challenge in over half a century.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/trumps-lies-about-coronavirus/608647/

    I figured some right-wing zealots here might interested.