Poll: Two-thirds of Americans think the official coronavirus death toll is wrong

The good news is that those Americans are correct. Skepticism is warranted.

The bad news is that there’s a strong difference of opinion over whether deaths are being undercounted or overcounted and the left’s view of that is on much firmer ground than the right’s. On Earth 2, where the president managing this pandemic is a Democrat, that’s probably different.

“People whose primary news source is the Fox News channel are most likely to say that U.S. deaths attributed to coronavirus are inflated,” reports Axios. What the hell is Fox telling people?

Between the number of “excess deaths” from all causes seen in country after country after country that’s been hard hit by COVID and the shortfall of testing here in the U.S., especially early in the crisis, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that deaths caused by the virus are being undercounted. Any other take is partisanship disguised as math.

Here’s another interesting bit of data from Axios, this time with the parties in sync:

This disagreement over deaths also is playing out in people’s declining trust in the federal government to look out for their best interests.

Overall trust declined from 53% to 38% from Week 2 through this week.
Democrats’ trust fell from 42% to 25%.
Republicans’ trust fell from 74% to 61%.
Independents’ trust fell to 47% to 33%.

I understand why trust is down among Democrats and independents but not why it’s down among Republicans. Are GOPers blaming *Trump’s government* for supposedly overcounting coronavirus deaths? Where do they see the president fitting into that scheme of allegedly inflating the death toll? Or is declining trust in the federal government due to something else? It makes sense that all three parties would see trust fall as the official death toll rises. Whether you trust the feds less because you think they’ve done a bad job managing the crisis or because you think the federal guidelines are too heavily weighted against reopening soon, you have cause lately to feel disgruntled.

Monmouth has a new poll out today too that looks at the politics of COVID-19, including the federal response. The share that says the feds are doing the right amount to help states hit hard by the outbreak versus not doing enough has remained almost identical from April to May: 37/54. (Another five percent of hardcore federalists think Trump’s administration is doing too much.) On the subject of the great “when to reopen?” debate, the public continues to lean heavily towards taking things slow, which is surprising to me. After six weeks of lockdown and apocalyptic unemployment reports, I thought there’d be more support for opening up now. Here’s the result when people are asked big-picture whether preventing illness or averting a deep economic downturn should be top priority:

Independents still tilt towards the Democratic view but they’re gradually moving towards equilibrium. On the related question of whether people are worried states will reopen too soon or too slowly, though, they’re still decidedly in favor of caution:

It surprised me that the predictable partisan splits on those questions didn’t translate perfectly to other demographic splits we might expect. For instance, we all know that whites without a college degree were a key Trump constituency in 2016. But in this poll they’re almost evenly split on whether restoring the economy should be prioritized over preventing illness (43/42) and they side with Democrats on whether they’re more worried states will move too quickly or too slowly on reopening (54/35). Those are fraught numbers for Trump and the GOP given the degree to which the party depends on working-class whites. What’s more, voters who make less than $50,000 per year strongly sided with Democrats on both questions, 60/28 on prioritizing preventing sickness over preventing an economic slide and 72/21 on worrying about reopening too quickly over too slowly.

No doubt those numbers are being driven by a large number of nonwhite working-class Democrats in the under $50K group, but it goes to show that even people with especially urgent financial need are still inclined to worry more about health than money right now. Who can blame them given the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on blacks?