Feb 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: America learns to live with COVID

How should the U.S. handle COVID-19 at this time?
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

One in three Americans expects to catch COVID within the next month — and only one in 10 thinks it will be eradicated by this time next year — according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The new data shows Americans are coming to terms with living with COVID. But it also reveals an utter lack of consensus on how to live with it.

  • People are divided about evenly into four camps on how to proceed: drop all mandates and requirements, keep some, keep most, or add even more.
  • Half support stores or restaurants requiring customers to show proof of vaccination to enter.

The big question: Is America suffering from a leadership vacuum, or is it unleadable?

What they're saying: "There's nothing approaching a consensus on what we should be doing to move forward, which underlines the difficulty for policymakers," said Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson.

  • Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs, said the competing views are partly "a function of a polarized world that understands the pandemic in different ways."
  • But because public opinion around COVID-19 has been a lagging rather than leading indicator, he also reads the divisions as a leadership failure and says many Americans are yearning for more consistency about what to do.
  • "People are just sort of living their life and reacting to the macro forces and mitigating the risk, but it's very unclear where they're going," he said.

Between the lines: While the overall numbers show a four-way split over how the U.S. should handle the pandemic at this time, respondents' party ID play a huge role in their answers.

  • 21% of overall respondents (43% of Republicans but just 3% of Democrats) said "open up and get back to life as usual with no coronavirus mandates or requirements."
  • 29% overall (29% of Republicans and 25% of Democrats) urged a "move towards opening up, but still take some precautions."
  • 23% overall (14% of Republicans and 34% of Democrats) said "mostly keep coronavirus precautions and requirements."
  • 21% overall (7% of Republicans and 32% of Democrats) want to "increase mask mandates and coronavirus vaccine requirements."
  • Of the four categories, only one — the move toward opening while continuing some precautions — has comparable support across party lines. And even then, it's less than one in three.
  • While 51% of overall respondents support businesses requiring proof of vaccination to enter, that's only true for 25% of Republicans — but 72% of Democrats.

By the numbers: Two-thirds said COVID-19 isn't likely to be eradicated in the next year. Another one-fourth aren't sure. Just 11% said they believe it will be eradicated in the next year.

  • 70% of respondents said if the vaccine become something that requires an annual booster comparable to the flu shot, they'd likely get it.
  • 85% of those who have already been fully vaccinated and had a booster shot said they'd take a fourth shot if it were available.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Feb. 4-7 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,049 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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