Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to call coronavirus imminent threat: poll

Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to call coronavirus imminent threat: poll
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Americans are sharply divided along partisan lines on how serious a threat the coronavirus poses, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released Friday. 

Democrats are approximately twice as likely as Republicans to say the illness poses an imminent threat to the U.S., and more Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

Overall, about 40 percent of Democrats said they thought the new coronavirus poses an imminent threat, compared to about 20 percent of Republicans. Another 50 percent of Democrats said they are washing their hands more often, with 40 percent of Republicans saying the same. 

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The split in the poll comes amid disagreements over the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Democrats have accused the White House of not taking the illness seriously enough, while Trump and other officials have said Democrats and the media are hyping up the outbreak to hurt his reelection chances, even going so far as to call it the Democrats' "new hoax."

Trump has said that news outlets like CNN were “doing everything they can to instill fear in people” and Democrats are “trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths," while Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE said journalists are boosting talk of the coronavirus because “they think this will bring down the president.” 

“Our hyper-polarization is so strong that we don’t even assess a potential health crisis in the same way," Jennifer McCoy, a Georgia State political science professor who studies polarization, told Reuters. "And so it impedes our ability to address it."

The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,115 American adults from March 2-3 and has a credibility interval of 3 percent.