President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Delta variant and his administration’s efforts to increase vaccinations from the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., September 9, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
After President Biden announced a sweeping vaccine mandate plan, many liberals came out not only to praise the plan substantively, but to argue it was politically astute. The case was that vaccines are popular and that mask and vaccine requirements are generally popular, and so by trapping Republicans into opposing his mandate, he was forcing them to embrace the minority position.
But a new poll from Quinnipiac suggests otherwise. The headline number is that a slight majority of Americans (51 percent to 48 percent) say they disapprove of the Biden vaccine mandate plan for government and private employers. A deeper look at the numbers finds that while the polling falls into predictable partisan lines, independents disapprove of the mandate plan by 56 percent to 44 percent. Also, every age group disapproves strongly — except for the 65-plus crowd, which favors the plan 63 percent to 35 percent.
Getting at the question another way, 48 percent of Americans say that the mandate goes “too far” compared to 10 percent who say it doesn’t go “far enough” and 39 percent who say Biden got it “just right.”
That said, the poll should not be viewed as an obvious winner for Republicans, either. That’s because when asked about the individual provisions of the plan, the public is more supportive. For example, by 53 percent to 46 percent, respondents approve of the aspect of the plan that would force private employers to require either vaccination or weekly testing. That’s the part that is most legally iffy.
What is telling is that the poll also found that 73 percent of people plan to receive the vaccine or have already been vaccinated. That means there are a substantial number of people who are personally supportive of vaccination while against mandates. That is a signal that Democrats should tread quite carefully in trying to lump together those who oppose mandates with anti-vaxxers.
One poll does not, of course, settle this matter as a political issue one way or the other. But it is worth noting as it suggests the mandate is not quite the obvious slam dunk with the public that liberals claimed it would be.
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