Data Wonk

Most Republican Voters Want The Vaccine

Only a hard-core minority oppose it. So why are GOP politicians encouraging this, and risking our health?

By - Aug 18th, 2021 02:36 pm
COVID-19 vaccine. Pixabay License Free for commercial use No attribution required

COVID-19 vaccine. (Pixabay License).

The Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters taken August 3-8 asked two questions about vaccinations. The first asked whether the voter had at least one vaccine dose. The second asked those who had received no vaccine whether they expected to get vaccinated.

I combined the two questions, adding those who said they would definitely or probably get the vaccine to those that already had been vaccinated, leaving those who said they had not received the vaccine and definitely or probably would not get it.

The chart below summarizes the result. The percentage of voters either vaccinated or expecting to be vaccinated is shown in green; that refusing vaccination in red. Overall, 79% of those polled said they had received or expected to receive the vaccine. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Independents said they received or expect to receive the vaccine. More surprisingly, a strong majority of Republicans expected to get vaccinated.

Partisan divide on vaccinations

Partisan divide on vaccinations

Opposition to the vaccine enjoys the support of a minority of a minority. It seems puzzling, therefore, that so many Republican politicians, including the governors of Florida and Texas — and the Wisconsin Republican legislators — are willing to be flag bearers in opposition to measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Ideology turned out to be an even stronger predictor of vaccine support than partisanship. The next chart show the relationship between self-described ideology and vaccine support. Only among those identifying as “very conservative,” did a majority reject the vaccine.

Ideological divide on vaccinations

Ideological divide on vaccinations

Partisanship and ideology were the only subgroupings to show this sharp distinction with vaccine hesitancy. For example, the five geographical divisions reported by Marquette ranged only between 75% vaccine support (for the state beyond Milwaukee, Madison, and the Fox Valley and 85% (for the Madison area). Similarly, support from demographic groups ranged from 71% (for Blacks) to 87% (Hispanics), with whites in the middle (79%).

Since the introduction of the vaccines, there has been no national effort to track their effect—for example, the number of “breakthrough” cases infecting vaccinated people, deaths of those who are vaccinated, and comparative numbers of hospitalizations. The Kaiser Family Foundation has attempted to fill this gap, collecting data from the minority of states that have collected such information.

Since there are no national standards there is considerable variation in the way data are reported. Whatever the problems with the available data, they do point to vaccine success in preventing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The next graph shows four measures of success, using both the average of the reporting states and data from California. Far more cases appear among unvaccinated populations:

  • Only one per thousand of currently vaccinated people has been infected by Covid so far.
  • During this period vaccinated people were only 1% to 2% of Covid cases.
  • Similarly, vaccinated people made up less than 2% of those who had to be hospitalized.
  • Finally, they represent less than 2% of the deaths from Covid.
Vaccinations and covid cases and deaths

Vaccinations and covid cases and deaths

Clearly, the vaccines work at preventing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, but only if people decide to get vaccinated. The next chart compares the number of new cases of Covid per day in Wisconsin (the blue dashed line) and nationally (in black). For comparability, the number of cases was converted to the number of cases per 100,000 people.

In late June and early July, it appeared that Covid was on the run. Businesses that had closed or had restrictions opened and removed those restrictions. My local coffee shop reopened with the staff masked, and then dropped the masks. Recently, the staff are wearing masks again along with a sign: “We highly encourage masks be worn to prevent spread of Covid-19.” Currently Wisconsin is doing better than the nation but suffers from the same uptick as other states.

Daily Average Cases of Covid-19 per 100,000

Daily Average Cases of Covid-19 per 100,000

Florida and Texas are two states whose governors are infamous for fighting steps to control the virus, particularly the wearing of masks and vaccinations. The graph below shows the result. with Florida in yellow and Texas in green.  (Again, the numbers are adjusted for population.) Notably, Florida’s recent peak exceeds its peak last winter.

Covid-19 Cases per 100,000 population (Florida, Texas and Wisconsin)

Covid-19 Cases per 100,000 population (Florida, Texas and Wisconsin)

The trends are pointing towards another Covid crisis, leading to a need for another shutdown in the economy. The inescapable conclusion is the politicians who are most opposed to a future shutdown are most likely to make it necessary if they continue fighting masks and widespread vaccination. In Wisconsin, the proposed bill to make those who quit a job to avoid a vaccination requirement eligible for unemployment benefits is only the most recent example of such anti-vax efforts on the right.

It is sometimes argued that people who put themselves at risk by avoiding vaccinations have a right to do so, under the principal that people should be allowed to do dangerous things if they are the only ones that would pay the price. But unvaccinated people do cause health risks and costs for the larger society:

    • By delaying herd immunity in which infections simply die out for lack of targets, they put at risk those who cannot get the vaccine, including children and people with compromised immune systems
  • Even though the vaccines are very effective, they are not perfect. A large group of non-immunized people serves as a reservoir of infection that can cross over.
  • The cost of their hospitalization is likely to be shifted to government or insurers
  • A large reservoir of unvaccinated people serves the needs of the virus to constantly find new victims, raising the odds of more dangerous variants than the delta variant.

It is often argued that those choosing to be vaccinated should be kind to resistors. This strategy is not working. Only be raising the cost of refusing the vaccine—by making the vaccination a condition of employment or attending a performance—is the nation likely to reach herd immunity.

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

Categories: Data Wonk, Health, Politics

One thought on “Data Wonk: Most Republican Voters Want The Vaccine”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    30% of health care workers nationwide refuse to take the COVID vaccination.

    WISN News article: August 19, 2021 – Some nurses willing to pay hefty price to not get COVID-19 vaccine

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