Feb 9, 2021 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: No shared path back to normal

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Note: ±3.4% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Note: ±3.4% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Most Americans aren't convinced that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the silver bullet to returning to normal life, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: Our weekly national survey finds broad disagreement and confusion over which cues people intend to follow to decide what behaviors are safe again.

Between the lines: People now see less intense risk when it comes to in-person gatherings, dining out, using taxis or rideshares or airplanes, and vacationing. In a new question this week, only 11% said they see a large risk in outdoor sports, such as skiing, sledding or skating.

  • But that's coupled with measures of sinking trust in the media. Trust in cable news has dropped to 38%, down from 50% last April. Trust in network news, and news from friends and family also declined, though less.
  • Age, education and party ID also are shaping people's thinking.

What they're saying: "People don’t know how to get back to normal — or what the milestones are to get back to normal," said pollster Chris Jackson, senior vice president for Ipsos Public Affairs. "There is no single media, government or anything else that has a supermajority of trust. There’s no source on its own that can push out any single path forward."

  • "The vaccines are certainly helpful for some people," Jackson said. "But for the plurality, no one has any idea about how they’re going to resume their normal lives or navigate through this partial period of the next six to 12 months where some people are vaccinated and others aren’t.
  • "Americans really are just sort of existing right now. They haven’t put a lot of thought forward about how they’re going to navigate through the rest of this. There’s a big messaging component that’s required right now."

By the numbers: Perhaps the most important measure of when people anticipate they can return to normal is on the question of resuming in-person gatherings with family and friends outside the home.

  • 28% of overall respondents said they already have. That share surges for Republicans (42%), while it's dramatically less for Democrats (10%) and people 65 and older (15%).
  • 22% of overall respondents say they're waiting for themselves and their family and friends to get the vaccine.
  • Getting everyone vaccinated is most important in the minds of respondents who had a bachelor's degree or higher (34%) and for seniors (29%).
  • It was least important as a cue among those with a high school degree or less (14%).

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Feb. 5-8 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,030 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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