Aug 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Most Americans favor mandates

Percentage of adults supporting mandatory masking in schools
Data: Axios/Ipsos Poll; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Most Americans support mandating masks in schools and vaccinations to return to the workplace, and they oppose states' efforts to ban such moves, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

But, but, but: The survey finds the Republican base going against the grain so disproportionately that it helps explain the defiant postures of many red-state governors.

  • It also showed regional differences, with Midwesterners the most critical of mandates.

What they're saying: “This is why we’re seeing so much conflict,” said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.

  • “This data shows that public policy and public health is continuously challenged by our politics today" and that "at the end of the day, it’s all-politics-is-local."

By the numbers: Overall, 69% of respondents support their local school districts requiring everyone — including teachers, students, and administrators — to wear masks in schools. But that was true for just 44% of Republicans, compared with two-thirds of independents and nine in 10 Democrats.

  • 64% of respondents support state and local government mandates requiring masks to be worn in all public areas.
  • Just one in three Americans supports state laws prohibiting local governments from requiring masks (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders banning mask requirements in schools).
  • But that number masks a big partisan gap: 57% of Republicans support those laws, compared to just 16% of Democrats.
  • There's widespread opposition across party lines to states withholding funds from schools or local governments that require masks, as DeSantis threatened to do.
  • 55% of Americans support companies requiring all employees to be vaccinated to return to the workplace — that's nearly eight in 10 Democrats but just three in 10 Republicans.

Between the lines: The survey found there aren't nearly as many mandates yet in place as people say they'd be willing to support.

  • Just half of respondents said their employers are requiring masks be worn at work, and 16% said their bosses are requiring all employees to be vaccinated.

What we're watching: Respondents were asked a series of true-or-false questions, including whether masks have been shown to limit person-to-person spread of COVID-19, and whether the vaccine is more deadly that the virus itself.

  • While most people across party lines knew the facts, Republicans were disproportionately likely to answer incorrectly or to say they didn't know.
  • A jarring half of all respondents either said there's no evidence that wearing masks in schools gives children more protection against COVID-19 or said they didn't know.

The intrigue: In a new question this week, respondents were asked how much trust they place in conservative news — and about one in three of both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans said they have a great or fair amount of trust.

  • But among the unvaccinated, conservative news actually holds the highest trust share compared with how the view network TV, national papers and cable.
  • Those who have been vaccinated say they have much higher levels of trust in newspapers and network TV.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Aug. 13-16 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,041 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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