Democrats and Republicans are reacting very differently to the coronavirus pandemic. And the divide goes far beyond whether to wear a mask.
A majority of Republicans say they would feel comfortable flying on an airplane, eating indoors in a restaurant or seeing a movie in a theater. Large majorities of Democrats and political independents say they would not.
Those findings, from a survey conducted in early July for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey, show how opinions about the pandemic increasingly fall along partisan lines. Separate data on mobility shows the same partisan split in actual behavior — and it can’t be explained by differences in the prevalence of the virus itself.
“The degree to which Republicans are more comfortable than both Democrats and independents is quite jarring,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey. “It appears that people are living in quite different realities.”
That divide has implications for both public health and the economy. Public health officials have repeatedly urged Americans to cover their faces, practice social distancing and avoid large indoor gatherings. Economists across the ideological spectrum have echoed those messages, arguing that it will be impossible to restore the economy to health until the virus is under control.