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What do Americans think about coronavirus restrictions? Let’s see what the data say . . .

Back in May, I looked at a debate regarding attitudes toward coronavirus restrictions.

The whole thing was kind of meta, in the sense that rather than arguing about what sorts of behavioral and social restrictions would be appropriate to control the disease at minimal cost, people were arguing about what were the attitudes held in the general population.

It started with this observation from columnist Michelle Goldberg, who wrote:

Lately some commentators have suggested that the coronavirus lockdowns pit an affluent professional class comfortable staying home indefinitely against a working class more willing to take risks to do their jobs. . . . Writing in The Post, Fareed Zakaria tried to make sense of the partisan split over coronavirus restrictions, describing a “class divide” with pro-lockdown experts on one side and those who work with their hands on the other. . . . The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan wrote: “Here’s a generalization based on a lifetime of experience and observation. The working-class people who are pushing back have had harder lives than those now determining their fate.”

But it seemed that Zakaria and Noonan were wrong. Goldberg continued:

The assumptions underlying this generalization, however, are not based on even a cursory look at actual data. In a recent Washington Post/Ipsos survey, 74 percent of respondents agreed that the “U.S. should keep trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus, even if that means keeping many businesses closed.” Agreement was slightly higher — 79 percent — among respondents who’d been laid off or furloughed. . . .

I followed up with some data from sociologist David Weakliem, who reported on polling data showing strong majorities in both parties in support of coronavirus restrictions. 71% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats thought the restrictions at the time were “appropriate” or “not enough,” with the rest thinking they were “too restrictive.” Weakliem also looked at the breakdown by education and income reported that “income is similar to education, with lower income people more likely to take both ‘extreme’ positions; non-whites, women, and younger people more likely to say ‘not restrictive enough’ and less likely to say ‘too restrictive’. All of those differences are considerably smaller than the party differences. Region and urban/rural residence seem relevant in principle, but aren’t included in the report.”

I also reported on a data-free assertion from economist Robin Hanson, who wrote, “The public is feeling the accumulated pain, and itching to break out. . . . Elites are now loudly and consistently saying that this is not time to open; we must stay closed and try harder to contain. . . . So while the public will uniformly push for more opening, elites and experts push in a dozen different directions. . . . elites and experts don’t speak with a unified voice, while the public does.” As I said at the time, that made no sense to me as it completely contradicted the polling data, but I think Hanson was going with his gut, or with the Zakarian or Noonanesque intuition he has about how ordinary Americans should feel, if only they were to agree with him.

My post didn’t appear until November, and at that time Hanson responded in comments that “lockdowns soon weakened and ended. So ‘elites’ in the sense of quoted experts and pundits, vs the rest of the society via their political pressures.” But I still don’t buy it. First, it’s not clear that we should take changes in government policy as representative of pressure from the masses. Elites can apply pressure too. To put it another way, if you take various government policies that Hanson doesn’t approve of, I doubt he’d automatically take these as evidence of mass opinion in favor of those policies. He might instead speak of regulatory capture, elite opinion (politicians are, after all, part of the elite), and so on.

Beyond all this, it’s no mystery why restrictions were loosened between May and November. Rates of positive tests were lower during that period, the initial worries about people dying in the street were gone, and the demonstrated effectiveness of lockdowns gave state officials the confidence to reduce restrictions, secure in the understanding that if the number of cases shot up again, restrictions could be re-implemented. Hence from a straight policy perspective, it made sense to reduce restrictions. There’s no need to appeal to a mythical pressure from “the rest of society” or to a battle between elites and others.

That was then, this is now

As noted, I wrote my earlier discussion in May and posted in November. It’s now December, and Weakliem has been back on the job, again studying public opinion on this issue.

Here’s what he reports:

Yes, ‘elites’ support coronavirus restrictions. So do working-class Americans.

Pundits keep insisting — without evidence — that there’s a class divide over reopening

Throughout the pandemic, pundits have often argued that there are substantial class divisions in attitudes about coronavirus-related restrictions. Seeking an explanation for President Trump’s surprisingly strong electoral performance, Will Wilkinson, vice president of policy at the Niskanen Center, wrote in the New York Times last weekend that Republican calls to reopen businesses appealed to “working-class breadwinners who can’t bus tables, process chickens, sell smoothies or clean hotel rooms over Zoom,” but they were “less compelling to college-educated suburbanites, who tend to trust experts and can work from home, watch their kids and spare a laptop for online kindergarten.”

The Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan made a similar argument in May . . .

But these observations have been based on rough impressions or intuition, rather than evidence. Surveys — whether conducted recently or earlier in the pandemic — don’t show the class divide that some pundits believe is self-evident. . . .

To be sure, most working-class people can’t do their jobs from home, so they suffer a bigger financial loss from shutdowns. It is at least plausible that they might look skeptically on the views of elites and experts. Perhaps working-class people are more fatalistic (or realistic) and think you must accept some risks in life. But you can also think of reasons that middle-class people might oppose restrictions. Middle-class jobs are more likely to allow some distance from co-workers and customers, for example, and middle-class people tend to go out more frequently for dining and entertainment. As a result, they might risk less and gain more from reopening.

That’s why we need data. Although many surveys have asked for opinions of the government’s handling of the pandemic, only a few have asked about restrictions. However, two recent surveys sponsored by Fox News contain a good measure of general attitudes about the issue: “Which of the following do you think should be the federal government’s priority: limiting the spread of coronavirus, even if it hurts the economy, or restarting the economy, even if it increases the risk to public health?” The first survey was conducted Oct. 3-6, when the recent surge in cases was beginning; the second was conducted Oct. 27-29, when it was well advanced. . . .

The reports on the surveys do not have a general breakdown by education, but they do show opinions among White registered voters with and without a college degree. In the first survey, 36 percent of White voters with a college degree — and 37 percent of Whites without one — thought that restarting the economy should be the priority. In the second survey, 43 percent of White college graduates — and 38 percent without a degree — took that position. There is some evidence, in short, that it is White people with degrees who are becoming more anxious to get back to normal: Their support for focusing on the economy rose more between the surveys, while support among Whites without degrees increased less. But the class differences in both surveys were within the margin of error — they could easily be due to chance — so the safest conclusion is that there is no compelling evidence of a class-based divergence of opinion. . . .

Weakliem follows up with more detail in a blog post. tl;dr summary: Pundits really really want to tell a story, even if it’s unsupported by the data. Weakliem does a good dissection of the way that Noonan shifts from “those with power or access to it” to “the top half” and her the juxtaposition of “figures in government, politics, and the media”—a true elite—with people living in “nice neighborhoods, safe ones,” having a family that functions and kids that go to good schools, which, as Weakliem points out, is a pretty large part of the population.

I agree with Weakliem that the fact the Pulitzer Prize committee admired this stuff (“beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans”) is interesting in its own right.

But, again, the big story is that policies and attitudes on coronavirus-motivated restrictions have shifted over time in response to changes in actual and perceived risks, and the public is not as divided on the issue one might think from some news reports. There are some differences by political party, but not much going on when comparing different income and education levels, which is something that pundits maybe don’t want to hear because it gets in the way of their Pulitzer prize-winning stories or edgy hot takes.

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34 Comments

  1. Joshua says:

    Thanks for this post.

    As an aside, I had trouble finding a verb here: “(So ‘elites’ in the sense of quoted experts and pundits, vs the rest of the society via their political pressures.”)”

    I think there’s another important element. Absent NPIs, we wouldn’t likely have had extended unemployment, stimulus checks, loans, etc. that were part of the relief packages.

    For those elites who are arguing on behalf of the working class against the condescending elites, imagine how “the poors” would have felt if there were a raging epidemic, and people had to decide whether to go to work where the virus was rampant or stay home and take care of their kids, and they could have been fired for not showing up to work with no ability to collect UE.

    So my point being that all of these analyses are actually being made with certain assumptions about counterfactuals that are not being made explicit, and certainly which aren’t being argumentatively supported. It’s the same as what we see with the certain claims of “lockdown deaths” which are necessarily based on counterfactual assumptions about what # of deaths there would have been. had things been different.

  2. Dale Lehman says:

    I think there is a danger in this whole discussion of viewing attitudes towards COVID restrictions as if they are independent of other views – notably political affiliation. One thing I believe is that Trump has successfully made much public opinion – binary, depending on whether you support him or not. This then colors views on any issue. Since Trump has taken extreme stances on COVID, I question whether it is possible to get a gauge of public opinion that is independent of just finding out whether people are Trump supporters or not. Of course the public opinion surveys do provide different percentages than the presidential vote, but I have trouble disentangling the two.

    • Joshua says:

      Dale –

      I agree with your larger point – in that I think that views on COVID policies should be seen, as we can see with views on climate change policies – as a proxy for ideological orientation (they tell you more about who someone is than how they reason or what they know). Still, I think that it’s important to recognize this may be overstated.

      > One thing I believe is that Trump has successfully made much public opinion – binary, depending on whether you support him or not.

      Consider the rift in views on climate change policy, for example, which was well in place when Trump wasn’t anywhere near such an obvious symbol of ideological orientation.

    • Ben says:

      > Of course the public opinion surveys do provide different percentages than the presidential vote, but I have trouble disentangling the two.

      Well isn’t this just a data is conflicting with the model situation? The model you propose is:

      > Since Trump has taken extreme stances on COVID, I question whether it is possible to get a gauge of public opinion that is independent of just finding out whether people are Trump supporters or not.

      And then the data isn’t as clear as this model proposes (where we’d expect Republicans to all do one thing and Dems to do another), so there’s probably something up with the model.

      > I think there is a danger in this whole discussion of viewing attitudes towards COVID restrictions as if they are independent of other views – notably political affiliation.

      So this poll is direct evidence we shouldn’t view COVID restrictions that way.

  3. MJM-WA says:

    So it looks to be the case that ~40% of a fairly broad-ranging cross section states it’s support for NPIs. Isn’t that amount close to the % of the population that starts off the day checking its horoscope? The point being I have always thought that a properly worded survey should be able to generate a baseline support of at least 33% for most anything. And given the very significant social and legal pressure to observe the NPI protocols, I am actually quite surprised that the % isn’t significantly higher. Isn’t that a more interesting question here as opposed to the class/social “conflict” aspect?

    • Andrew says:

      Mjm:

      No, you’re wrong on this. Lots of positions have way less than 33% support. Pollsters usually don’t spend time asking questions on positions where support is so low, because usually people aren’t so interested in those questions. So you’re seeing selection bias in what questions are asked. Also, someone can check the horoscope every day or go to church once a week or express other supernatural beliefs; that’s part of their lifestyle and it doesn’t mean that they can’t have serious positions on political issues.

  4. Ingalls says:

    Dale Lehman:

    — the political/legal aspect is indeed huge

    (“But, again, the big story is that policies and attitudes on coronavirus-motivated restrictions have shifted over time” AG)

    … the big (ignored) story is that the long standing legal structure of American government, civil rights, explicit federal and state constitutions, etc. have not changed at all, but now are being severely violated at all levels of American government … to the applause of the general media and many covid panicked citizens.

    There are very strong legal limits on what “restrictions” government officials may impose upon the public.
    No ’emergency’ powers exist for any government official that override federal/state constitutions.
    All government commands to the populace must issue from legislatures, not from the personal whims of state governors, local mayors, or government bureaucrats.

    Loss of the rule of law dwarfs any virus threat.
    That’s a major shift and Big Story.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The big danger in *this particular* dissection of the issue is that people’s reported attitudes in surveys don’t mean anything. Let’s just square up with reality. So reported attitudes by “white” or “educated” or “blue sock wearing” or “blog commenting” people really mean SFA until they’re connected to behavior.

    Now, on the **behavior** front – meaning “stuff that’s actually happening and not just being babbled about” – public health officials all over the country are quitting because they are getting hammered for lock downs, mask mandates etc.

    So maybe Andrew is right, 99% of the people don’t care and it’s all just a Pulitzer hunting media spin mirage. But people are leaving their jobs because shit is being thrown at them (metaphorically. Reality is a worse: people are being threatened). That matters more than what people report on surveys. Maybe Andrew can send those people a preprint of his “nothing’s happening” paper.

    • Andrew says:

      Anon:

      You write, “So maybe Andrew is right, 99% of the people don’t care . . .”

      I never said that 99% of the people don’t care. I didn’t say that 90% don’t care. I didn’t even say 50% don’t care. Of course people care about these issues! People don’t want to catch coronavirus, they don’t want their elderly relatives to die, they don’t people to cough in their face, they don’t want to lose their jobs, they don’t want other people to lose their jobs, etc. On top of that, leaders are sending mixed messages and conditions on the ground are changing over time. People are freaking out. You can go outside without a mask and some stranger will start screaming at you. Or you can work in a store with a sign saying everyone must wear masks, and a customer can come in and scream at you. There’s lots of stuff happening “on the behavior front.” We can also learn from surveys. Pulitzer or not, I don’t see why I should take the opinions of Fareed Zakaria or Peggy Noonan sitting behind their desks more seriously than careful surveys.

  6. Anoneuoid says:

    The people doing these polls have totally lost the respect of a large percent of the population, maybe even as high as 30% or so who will simply never answer them or do so falsely.

    Take every poll result as “x% of the 70% of the population most likely to agree with the most popular narrative in the media”.

    • Joshua says:

      And you know this because….polls tell you so?

      Or because of your own anecdotal canvassing of the people you know?

      Seems to me that as much as the polling of views on specific elections has been off recently (how much is that, really? Maybe as much as 10% would be considered enormous), people would be more likely to accurately respond to questions where they can voice objections (or support) for policies like COVID policies.

      • Brent Hutto says:

        I don’t know anyone, not a single soul, who ever under any circumstances answers a telephone poll. On any topic. Not me, my wife, our families, any of our friends, my coworkers, nobody.

        In fact, most people I know don’t answer the phone if it’s a spam/poll/survey call. Or hang up as soon as they establish that it’s not a real call from someone they know or need to talk to.

        So ANY survey research is going to be completely missing at least a certain swath of the public who simply don’t answers surveys. And I do not think it’s a narrow swath at all, my guess is quite the opposite.

        But hey, anything can be fixed with the proper post-stratification weights, right?

        • Joshua says:

          Brent –

          By the very fact if you being here, you mark yourself as non-representative in some pretty relevant ways.

          I see a lot of blog commenters who have a habit of extrapolating from themselves or their own experiences or their own social circles or their own observations of social media. The precision of polling is a good subject for interrogation, but that seems to me like a definitively worse way to assess public opinion. You are the easiest person for you to fool.

          • Brent Hutto says:

            Believe what you will. But it’s simply denial to pretend that any telephone survey is (or can be made by clever statistics) remotely “representative”. What is the current, typical response rate. Isn’t it somewhere in the neighborhood of 1, 2, 3 percent industry wide?

            • Joshua says:

              Remotely? I dunno. Where do you draw the line between roughly accurate with an error range and not remotely accurate?

              At any rate, as inaccurate as they are my guess is that they’re closer to nailing representative than your own feelings and your observations of you social circle or your interpretation of what’s available from social media (which is a compounded problem because of your own biases plus commenters in social media is a pretty skewed convenience sample).

              • Brent Hutto says:

                Joshua,

                Why do you keep trying to put words in my mouth? I’m not claiming anything about the views of my acquaintances. I just say that whatever views they hold can not possibly be reflected in any telephone or online survey. So surveys claiming to say something about the public at large are omitting the fact that certain swaths of the public are totally invisible to them.

                So if a survey said it’s response rate was 0.05% (i.e. they made 1 million calls to gather 500 responses) would you believe they are capable of generalization to the public at large?

                P.S. I don’t know what is included in your mention of “social media” but outside of this blog I have always avoided Twitter/Facebook/whatever like the plague. Don’t ever look at them. And almost never look at the “traditional media” either for that matter.

              • Joshua says:

                Brent –

                > Why do you keep trying to put words in my mouth?

                Apologies. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth…but I was going from when you said the following:

                > I don’t know anyone, not a single soul, who ever under any circumstances answers a telephone poll. On any topic. Not me, my wife, our families, any of our friends, my coworkers, nobody.

                >> In fact, most people I know don’t answer the phone if it’s a spam/poll/survey call. Or hang up as soon as they establish that it’s not a real call from someone they know or need to talk to.

                That you were extrapolating from your own experiences to weigh in on what’s likely about the views of the general public – which would necessarily be the case if you’re saying that polls aren’t accurate because it implies that you know that public views are different than what they show.

                > But outside of this blog I have always avoided Twitter/Facebook/whatever like the plague. Don’t ever look at them. And almost never look at the “traditional media” either for that matter.

                So if you aren’t going from yourself, or your acquaintances, or social media, or traditional media – what gives you such confidence to weigh in to say that what polling says about public views isn’t remotely accurate? How do you know the degree to which polling has deviated from what’s true?

  7. Dale Lehman says:

    I don’t think polls like this are constructive – this is prompted by some of the comments above as well as some of the blog posts over the past few weeks. I do not think good public policy results from a gauge of the public’s gut level feelings – I don’t even think it helps as an input to good public policy. I do acknowledge that certain research might focus on surveys like this, but it isn’t worth the cost in terms of poor public policy.

    I don’t want public policy made on the basis of which feeling gets the majority of support – lock-down or open up. Nor do I believe we should trust public policy to some group of “experts” who know better than the public. What I’d like to see is a survey that educates the public and solicits more informed positions. First present the “facts” as we know them, including the relevant uncertainties. Then ask them about meaningful choices rather than broad shut-down or open-up options, such as how much schooling should move online, whether bars should have any restrictions, etc. I fully realize that the way that the “facts” and “uncertainties” are presented will influence the responses. But I maintain that the gut level gross responses to oversimplified questions are just as influenced by researchers, the media, politicians, the way questions are posed, etc. In fact, while Andrew may not agree, that is the biggest takeaway for me from his post – that it is unavoidable for our prior beliefs to influence our evaluation of the evidence provided by such surveys.

    What I believe about COVID policy is that the best policy is somewhat ambiguous. All along I have been torn between thinking we over-reacted and under-reacted (likely both). I do think public opinion should be taken seriously in making decisions such as what restrictions we put on individual freedoms to limit public health risks. But I want to see public opinion informed by information rather than whatever pops into their minds when asked these survey questions – influenced by what they read or heard recently.

    • Jonathan (another one) says:

      I agree. Asking people what they think about something and then trying to instantiate their inchoate worldview is a cowardly way of leading. Plus, it doesn’t work. Now on the other hand, dismissing the actual concerns of people and saying: “I’m depending on Science and here’s what Science says” isn’t likely to work very well either if what you’re really depending on is what the scientists you talk to are saying, rather than Science, particularly when you realize that however good Science is at answering discrete questions about a virus and its projections, it has no insight at all over public policy choices that have to made with that knowledge. And it’s the mixture of the two that helps to explain why we’re both over-reacting and under-reacting at the same time.

    • Andrew says:

      Dale:

      I don’t think these sorts of polls should be used to decide policy, at least not directly. But polls can be relevant for policymakers in anticipating people’s reactions to policy. And polls are definitely relevant to addressing questions of public opinion. For all the problems of polls, I think they tell us much more about public opinion than we can learn from the gut feelings of the masses as intuited by Zakaria, Noonan, Hanson, etc.

      • Dale Lehman says:

        That’s a pretty weak defense. I’ll grant you that the pools are better than the Zakaria, Noonan, et al intuitions. But that does not make them constructive. You say “And polls are definitely relevant to addressing questions of public opinion.” Sure, they measure something about public opinion – but what? And, how is that to be used? And by whom? As far as I can tell, the primary value of polls are for those that either study it to get publications or for those that want to manipulate public opinion. For example, polls are highly valued by marketers. And political consultants. And the media – particularly for small sound bites.

        I’m not objecting to polls as a potentially valuable instrument of public policy. I am objecting to the polls we see and how they are used. Is there a good reason why a poll can’t be informative both to respondents and pollsters?

        • John Williams says:

          Dale,
          Suppose you a policy-maker thinking about implementing a mask mandate, which only works if enough people will voluntarily comply with it. Surely, polls can give you useful information on that point.

          • Dale Lehman says:

            Even this simple example is not so straightforward. Sure, a policy maker will want to have an idea how likely people are to comply with a mask mandate. But a survey asking them “Do you support mask mandates?” invites responses that may simply reflect whether they like Trump or not. They also provide no context – why a mandate, what do we know about masks and their effectiveness, why would a mandate be necessary/desirable, what alternatives are there? I think, with additional context and information, the responses are much more informative. The simple question does not tell you much – except perhaps the knee-jerk reaction that a mask mandate will get. Is that useful? Sure it is – but for the worst kind of policy-making. Just find policies that get superficial “likes” from the public? Democracy via Twitter! Wait – we already have that!

          • Jonathan (another one) says:

            I agree with Dale again. But what is a “voluntary mandate?”

        • Ben says:

          > Sure, they measure something about public opinion – but what?

          These polls investigate the idea that there’s a class-based divergence of opinion, which is an idea I’ve heard a lot, and it’s very helpful to have a poll to think about.

          Sure everyone has their own economic theories and whatnot, and it’s pretty easy to spin a million compelling stories, but the result of actually asking people is:

          > they could easily be due to chance — so the safest conclusion is that there is no compelling evidence of a class-based divergence of opinion

          Like wow! That’s interesting. So according to these folks this gap at least isn’t a big, obvious thing that the storytellers might imply.

          > Is there a good reason why a poll can’t be informative both to respondents and pollsters?

          This seems informative to me, cuz the answer above.

          > Then ask them about meaningful choices rather than broad shut-down or open-up options, such as how much schooling should move online, whether bars should have any restrictions, etc.

          The question was:

          > “Which of the following do you think should be the federal government’s priority: limiting the spread of coronavirus, even if it hurts the economy, or restarting the economy, even if it increases the risk to public health?”

          So it is what should be the priority. Why does this question have no meaning to you?

          • Dale Lehman says:

            I find that question meaningless. Which is the priority? Clearly it is both. When it comes to hard choices, how is the answer to this question at all informative? How much will action X limit the spread and how much will it hurt the economy? And, what are the alternatives? The problem with the stated question is that it tells us nothing about the real choices that need to be made. Worse yet, it provides an “answer” that may be used to guide policies regarding specific actions. Virtually any action to reduce the spread could be justified under the umbrella that people said that stopping the spread was the priority (or vice versa).

            • Not to mention the false dichotomy. The way to help the economy is to get the virus under control so we can run things smoothly at lower capacity and with lower risk of infection so that people are willing to shop at stores and participate in the economy. This notion that controlling the virus harms the economy is very very shortsighted (like time horizon two weeks maybe)

            • Ben says:

              > I find that question meaningless. Which is the priority? Clearly it is both.

              Priority means that one thing ranks above the other, not that the other thing is valueless. If one thing wasn’t valuable, then it would be a meaningless question.

              > How much will action X limit the spread and how much will it hurt the economy?

              You’re not going to get an answer to that from a public opinion poll, so don’t hold a public opinion question to that standard.

              > Virtually any action to reduce the spread could be justified under the umbrella that people said that stopping the spread was the priority (or vice versa).

              Well, certainly someone can make an argument (https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/12/08/the-p-value-is-4-76×10%e2%88%92264-1-in-a-quadrillion/), but that doesn’t make them right.

              It would be silly to try to answer specific questions like “should bars be open” based on public opinion, and I don’t think this polling is doing that. You could use this in a debate about direct vs. representative democracy, but that’s not what this polling is doing.

              What this poll does is swiftly handle a lot of careless arguments about what people should think based on their politics, or their class, or whatever, and if someone uses those arguments (“the masses yearn for freedom”), then we have a little bit of actual information to fall back on.

              It does not fully resolve all the questions of the pandemic and that’s fine.

    • anon e mouse says:

      +1

      Additionally how do you measure “support for interventions” when no policy support is being offered to people whose livelihoods are threatened by these interventions? I feel like a non-trivial proportion of people I know who are opposed to the current tightening of restrictions were a lot more tolerant of the first round of lockdowns when there were forgivable business loans and a generous unemployment supplement.

  8. elin says:

    My understanding is that in NYC middle class people are more likely to want the schools to be open. Working class people, in communities that have been much harder hit, have kept their kids home. Most of the pundits you are quoting mean White working class when they say working class. Just like when they talk about Evangelicals they mean White Evangelicals.

    Meanwhile no one at all is talking about the fact that all of the models from the spring predicted a lull in the summer (although less of a lull if the “bend the curve” efforts were successful) and then be much higher starting in October.

  9. MJM-WA says:

    Your comments on my earlier post are noted, Andrew, and you are making great sense as always!
    What I should have focused more on in my post is how low the % supporting various measures seems to me. While I don’t know if my circle of friends and family members is as diverse as I think it is, I am continually surprised by finding friends who are quite fearful (for lack of a better word) and supportive of NPIs versus others who are highly skeptical of their efficacy and the need for these. I have also noted that so many of my circle now have —as do I— first hand experience with personal acquaintances who test positive and have mild or no symptoms whatsoever. A very good friend’s 94 year old mother will leave her hospital isolation ward tomorrow after spending 2.5 symptom free weeks there subsequent to her testing positive. What is also striking to me is that I have friends on both ends of the political spectrum who fall into the supportive versus skeptical categories. The only thing I can relate any of this to is their first hand experiences, but I am probably wrong on that.
    And I should add that I am now being surprised by people I know telling me that there is no way they will get that vax. A colleague who is very successful and politically left of center, told me the other day that there is no way she will get that vaccination. Go figure, huh?

  10. Berend de Boer says:

    Isn’t the big problem with polling that people may want more restrictions, but perhaps on others? So that would be quite overstating the case. I would like to see a poll where they ask people for more restrictions on themselves.

    But secondly, even if there’s broad public support for lock downs, it seems the real issue is that people in their personal lives, disobey the rules. Starting with politicians and epidemiologists. So even if the policy is effective (and scientific literature warned against this before 2020), it might simply not work.

    You need policy that is implementable and gets broadly followed if you want policy that has an effect. And preferably policy that does not rely on force.

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