About four of every 10 Democrats said they thought the new coronavirus poses an imminent threat, compared to about two of every 10 Republicans.
Part of the explanation, said Robert Talisse, a Vanderbilt University philosophy professor who studies political polarization, is that political divisiveness often works in subtle ways.
Americans increasingly surround themselves with people who share the same political views, so partisan perceptions echo not just through the television channels people watch and websites and social media they consume, but through their friends and neighbors, too.
About half of Democrats said they are washing their hands more often now because of the virus, compared to about four in 10 Republicans, according to the poll. About 8% of Democrats said they had changed their travel plans, compared to about 3% of Republicans.In 2014, Pew reported:
More than half of Republicans, about 54%, said they had not altered their daily routines because of the virus, compared to about 40% of Democrats.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, from March 2-3 in the United States. It gathered responses from 1,115 American adults, including 527 Democrats and 396 Republicans. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 3 percentage points.
Since early October, worries about Ebola exposure have increased across most demographic and partisan groups. But the rise in concern has been particularly striking among Republicans.
In early October, 33% of Republicans were at least somewhat worried that they themselves or a family member would be exposed to the Ebola virus (7% very worried, 26% somewhat worried). Today, nearly half of Republicans (49%) are worried, with 16% saying they are very worried and 33% somewhat worried.
There has been less change among Democrats – 36% now have at least some concern about personal exposure to Ebola, compared with 30% in early October. The partisan gap in Ebola worries, which was negligible two weeks ago (three points), has increased to 13 points in the current survey.