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Republican and Democrat supporters increasingly split on coronavirus

A new poll from the Pew Research Center has shown a clear partisan divide when it comes to opinions on the coronavirus pandemic.

A man rides a subway in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 25, 2src2src. (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI)

A man rides a subway in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 25, 2020.

(photo credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI)

Opinions over the coronavirus are growing increasingly divided in America, with Republican supporters far less likely to be concerned about catching the virus, and far more willing to take part in everyday activities such as grocery shopping or visiting the hairdressers than their Democrat counterparts, a new survey by the Pew Research Center has found.

The survey of 4,708 American adults found that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are far more optimistic about both the course of the pandemic and the economic fallout of the lockdown than Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents.

The majority of Republicans, 61%, said that in terms of the problems facing the country from coronavirus, the worst was behind us, while 38% of Republicans thought the worst was yet to come. But among Democrats this trend was reversed – just 23% of Democrats said the worst had already passed, while more than three times as many, 76%, said it was yet to come.

And while neither overall Americans are not optimistic about the current state of the economy, Republicans were about five times more likely than Democrats to say the economy was doing well, with 46% of Republicans giving this opinion, against just 9% of Democrats.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Democrats were more in favor of the government unveiling a new stimulus package over and above the $2 trillion passed by President Trump and Congress in March. 87% of Democrats said they thought another such move was required, while Republicans were much more evenly split, with 51% believing it necessary and 47% who thought otherwise.

Additionally, Democrats are nearly twice as likely  to support an extension to the $600 per week federal unemployment benefits extending beyond July 31, by 77% to 39% of Republican supporters. And while both groups are in favor of providing aid for state and local government, 91% of Democrats favor this option, against, a much smaller majority of 58% of Republicans.

The most popular form of financial support across both groups is help for those facing evictions or foreclosures on property having lost their jobs or income, nearly nine in ten overall (88%) supported the measure.

Attitudes to the fallout from the pandemic were broadly in line with how Americans assessed the risk the disease posed in health terms. Broadly, Democrats felt that the risk of catching the disease and being badly affected by it were higher than Republicans assessed the risk.

45% of Republicans were very or somewhat concerned that they might unknowingly spread COVID-19, while 77% of Democrats felt the same way. And while only around a third (35%) of Republicans worried they may be hospitalized with the disease, nearly twice as many, 64% of Democrats, held the same fear.

Curiously, this may be linked to trust in the media and experts.

When asked whether powerful people intentionally planned the coronavirus outbreak, nearly half – 48% – of Republicans thought that theory was definitely or probably true, while only a quarter of Democrats shared that belief.

And while a majority (57%) of Democrats said they had found it easy to determine what information about the coronavirus outbreak is true and what is not, the majority of Republicans (66%) said they had found it difficult to assess the information for accuracy.

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