Biden's coronavirus challenge: Reaching Trump voters
People who voted for President Trump didn't see the coronavirus as an urgent problem, according to exit polls, but President-elect Joe Biden's voters overwhelmingly did.
Why it matters: The Biden administration will face a massive public education challenge as it tries to get the whole country to treat the virus as a serious threat and, when the time comes, to get vaccinated.
By the numbers: About 60% of Biden voters, across every demographic group, said COVID-19 was a top issue, compared to barely more than 20% of Trump voters.
What’s next: It will be exceedingly difficult to get a handle on the pandemic as long as half the adult population — the folks who followed Trump — don't see it as a major issue.
- People who don’t believe COVID-19 is a serious threat may also feel less compelled to get a vaccine.
Between the lines: Over decades of messaging about HIV testing and treatment in our Greater Than AIDS program, we have learned that there is no one-size-fits-all message.
- Messages need to be targeted to be effective.
- That means heavy use of digital media, not PSAs on television.
- And messengers have to be credible, not just famous. An important challenge is to emphasize disproportionate impact on people of color without furthering stigma or marginalization.
The bottom line: In exit polls, far more Trump voters said they were motivated by the economy than by the pandemic. Part of Biden's challenge will be to persuade those voters that getting a handle on COVID-19 is the route to a stronger economy.