Partisan gap widens over COVID-19 vs. flu lethality: poll

The partisan gap between Americans who said they believe that coronavirus is deadlier than the seasonal flu and those who said it is not increased between March and April, according to a new Gallup poll.

Roughly two-thirds of all respondents  — 67 percent — said in mid-April that the coronavirus was deadlier than the seasonal flu, compared to 60 percent in March. 

But the percentages of respondents who identified as Republicans who agreed that the death rate from the coronavirus is greater than the death rate from the seasonal flu remained steady, at 42 percent in April and 40 percent in March. 

Among Democrats, 87 percent said coronavirus was deadlier in April, up 13 points from 74 percent in March. 

Independents saw a 5-point increase, from 61 percent in March to 66 percent in April. 

Gallup noted that news consumption is a predictor in how Americans view coronavirus’s lethality. The chance that a moderate independent survey respondent who relies on “a conservative news diet” wouldn’t say the coronavirus is deadlier than the seasonal flu increased 4 percentage points, according to the polling giant. However, that likelihood declined 7 points for a person with a “mixed” news diet and 19 points with a “liberal news diet.”

The poll also found that partisanship plays a role in Americans’ perception of the total coronavirus death count. Among all American adults, 48 percent said they believe that “the official death toll statistics from COVID-19 in the U.S.” understate the “actual number of COVID-19 related deaths,” compared to 25 percent who said they are accurately stated and 26 percent who said they are overstated.

Among Republicans, 19 percent said the death count is understated, 31 percent said it is accurately stated, and 50 percent said it is overstated.

However, when Democratic survey respondents were asked, 72 percent said the number was understated, while 22 percent said it was accurately stated and 5 percent said it was overstated. 

The surveys were fielded March 17-29, sampling 1,449 U.S. adults, and April 14-20, sampling 1,693 U.S. adults. The polls have a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Tags Coronavirus Gallup
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