After Trump Promotes COVID-19 Shot, Republican Vaccine Willingness Remains Unchanged

At 58%, GOP adults have been consistently less likely than Democrats to say they’d get vaccinated
President Donald Trump signs an executive order at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on Dec. 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
March 24, 2021 at 6:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • The share of Republicans (about 3 in 5) who say they’d get a COVID-19 vaccine hasn’t changed since early March, while 82% of Democrats and 62% of independents said they’d get a shot.

  • 16% of voters, including 26% of GOP voters, said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about Trump’s comments promoting COVID-19 vaccines on Fox News.

Last week, former President Donald Trump took to Fox News to encourage his wary supporters to get a COVID-19 shot, after officials increasingly pressured him to do so. Days before, for example, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Trump’s endorsement would “make all the difference in the world.”

But new Morning Consult data indicates Republicans are no more likely to say they’d get vaccinated than they were before Trump described the shots as “safe” and “something that works.” In the March 18-21 survey, 58 percent of Republicans said they’d get vaccinated, a level that’s held steady for three weeks.

Meanwhile, 82 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents said they’d get a shot. Vaccine willingness among Democrats has surged since President Joe Biden won the White House, with that share rising from 55 percent at the end of October.

The latest poll was conducted among 2,200 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

The findings indicate it will take much more than Trump’s encouragement to chip away at vaccine hesitancy among holdout Republicans. But overall, Republicans are about as likely as Democrats to say they’ve received a vaccine or know someone who has.

The GOP pollster Frank Luntz, for one, has argued that campaigns to promote COVID-19 shots should lean on doctors rather than former presidents, and should emphasize the science behind the vaccine development process.

The Biden White House is relying on multiple channels to target vaccine-wary Americans. In an effort to reach conservatives and those who may not trust messaging from the federal government, the administration is enlisting groups like NASCAR and the American Farm Bureau to promote COVID-19 shots, The Wall Street Journal reported.

And earlier this month, when National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins went on the Christian Broadcasting Network to discuss the vaccine process, he described getting a shot as a way to “love thy neighbor.”

Notably, Republican voters were more likely than Democrats to say they’d seen, read or heard “a lot” about Trump’s comments encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, 26 percent to 12 percent respectively, according to a separate Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted March 19-22 among 1,994 voters. Among all registered voters, 16 percent said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about Trump’s vaccine endorsement.

Republicans generally tend to hear more about stories favorable to the former president or the party’s causes, according to Morning Consult’s weekly tracker of how news events break through to the electorate.

A headshot photograph of Gaby Galvin
Gaby Galvin

Gaby Galvin previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering health.

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