Poll: Still no clear consensus on vaccine mandates

(AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro)

If the latest numbers from Scott Rasmussen (not affiliated with Rasmussen Reports) are anything to go by, mandatory vaccination requirements are probably more popular than some of us seem to believe. But they’re not that popular. A bigger question for most people is whether or not it should be the government’s job to make them mandatory or whether such decisions should be left up to the private sector or the individual. When it comes to employers in the private sector, a slim majority of respondents (54%) believe that either the employer should make the decision or that there should be no mandatory vaccination rule and the decision should be left up to the individual. Only 36% believed that the government should set the rules. As with most of these surveys, however, the breakdown of these respondents along various demographic lines paints a more complicated picture.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters nationwide believe vaccine requirements should be determined in the private sector. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 36% disagree and believe governments should establish the guidelines.

Those totals include 30% who believe individual companies should set the rules for their workforce and 24% who think the decision should be left up to individual workers. On the other hand, 21% believe the federal government should decide and 15% think the rules should be set by state and local governments.

Republicans, by a 65% to 28% margin believe that companies or workers should decide for themselves. Independent voters, by a 58% to 26% margin agree. Most Democrats, however, see it differently. By a 54% to 39% margin, those in President Biden’s party believe governments at some level should set the rules.

At the extremes of the first question, we find the two groups of people who are the most diametrically opposed in their beliefs, but neither represents anything close to a majority opinion. Those believing that there should be no vaccination requirement at all and the individuals should make their own decisions, comprise 24%, or barely less than one in four. At that other end are the people who believe the federal government should decide for everyone in the private sector uniformly. That’s an even smaller group, coming in at 21%. But when you add in the people who believe that the state and local government should set the rules, along with those who are okay with employers enforcing mandatory vaccinations on their own, you’ve got a significant majority who are willing to entertain at least some form of mandatory policy.

The party-line divide was probably just about what you would expect. A significant majority of Republicans don’t want the government at any level making vaccinations mandatory, though some are okay with employers doing it. Independents feel the same way, though by a smaller margin. Slightly more than half of Democrats think the government at some level should have that power.

There was an interesting side-note found among the Democrats, however. Nearly three times as many Black Democrats (26%) thought the individual should decide for themself. Conversely, only 9% of white Democrats felt that way. This is almost certainly yet another indicator of how vaccine hesitancy keeps showing up in minority communities at disproportionately higher rates than among whites.

One last factor from this survey I wanted to touch on comes with Americans’ perceptions on the limits of the power of the presidency. Can the president order private sector employers to enforce a vaccination mandate? While many legal scholars have weighed in suggesting that he can, only 33% of survey respondents believe he has that power. Even among those who favor Biden’s plan, barely half (54%) think he’s legally empowered to do so. (They apparently are in favor of having the President do something illegal if it supports their agenda.)

Read through the rest of the numbers yourself at the link. The impression I’m coming away with is that the White House continues to do a disastrous job of communicating clearly on these subjects and many people remain confused. (Including me at times.) That’s definitely impacting how people are reacting to all of these shifting policy announcements and we remain far from any sort of national consensus on these questions.