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GOP’s Divide Over Vaccines Driven By Skepticism Of Younger, Rural Republicans

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at November 16, 2021

Topline

With Republicans disproportionately likely to still be unvaccinated against Covid-19, a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds clear divisions between the unvaccinated and vaccinated GOP — and younger, less educated, rural and more conservative Republicans are less likely to have gotten the shot.

Key Facts

The biggest predictor of whether or not a Republican is vaccinated is their age, with 61% of unvaccinated Republicans being ages 18-50 versus only 44% of vaccinated ones, according to the KFF poll, conducted October 14-24 among 1,519 U.S. adults.

A larger plurality of unvaccinated Republicans (45%) have a high school education or less (versus 35% of vaccinated ones), while those with a college degree or higher were 10 points more likely to be vaccinated (31% of those vaccinated versus 21% unvaccinated).

Rural Republicans were 11 points more likely to be unvaccinated (27% of unvaccinated versus 16% of vaccinated), while vaccinated Republicans were slightly more likely to live in urban or suburban areas.

Republicans are also more likely to remain unvaccinated if they live in a county that former President Donald Trump won in 2020, with 65% of the unvaccinated living in a Trump-won county versus 52% of vaccinated Republicans.

Unvaccinated Republicans are far more likely to identify ideologically as “conservative” (68% versus 58% of vaccinated Republicans), while moderate Republicans are 10 points more likely to have gotten the shot (33% versus 23% of unvaccinated).

Big Number

60%. That’s the share of unvaccinated Americans who are Republicans, according to KFF’s analysis, which notes political partisanship is now the biggest predictor of an American’s vaccination status over any other demographic. Republicans have made up an increasingly larger share of the unvaccinated over time, going up to 60% in October from 42% in April, 51% in July and 59% in September. They are now more than three times as likely to have resisted the shot as Democrats, who make up 17% of the unvaccinated.

Contra

Even though Republican opposition to the vaccine is disproportionately high compared to other groups, a 61% majority of Republicans have gotten the shot as of October, according to KFF. The only demographic groups with lower vaccination rates, however, are uninsured Americans under age 65 (59% vaccinated) and rural residents (58% vaccinated).

Tangent

Unvaccinated Republicans were also far more likely than their vaccinated counterparts to take a more relaxed view of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 88% saying the coronavirus’ seriousness is generally “exaggerated,” 62% saying they’re not at all worried about contracting Covid-19 and 96% believing vaccination is a personal choice and not a responsibility people have to protect others’ health. Most vaccinated Republicans, however, also showed similar attitudes, with 54% saying Covid-19’s seriousness is exaggerated, 42% saying they’re not at all worried and 73% believing vaccination is a personal choice. While lower than the unvaccinated, that’s much higher than vaccinated Democrats, only 8% of whom believe the seriousness is exaggerated and 16% are not at all worried about getting Covid-19.

Key Background

Vaccine hesitancy and opposition has been a significant issue throughout the vaccine rollout, and polling has consistently shown Republicans are particularly against the shot. Though many Republican governors have encouraged vaccinations—including through free incentives like million-dollar lotteries and guns—figures on the far-right and in the conservative media have criticized and questioned it, keeping GOP opposition high. The party has also become particularly opposed to vaccine mandates in recent months, as the federal government and other governments and companies have imposed vaccine requirements on workers and in some public spaces. A number of Republican-led states have now filed multiple lawsuits against the Biden administration’s vaccination requirements, and many have imposed policies that ban vaccine mandates or prohibit requiring proof of vaccination.

Further Reading

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: The Increasing Importance of Partisanship in Predicting COVID-19 Vaccination Status (KFF)

1 In 5 Adults Still Reject Covid Vaccines, Poll Finds — Here Are The Biggest Groups Still Holding Out (Forbes)

Here Are The Republicans Most Likely To Refuse The Covid-19 Vaccine, Poll Finds (Forbes)

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