9 in 10 say pandemic not controlled; two-thirds intend to vaccinate

Partisan and ideological differences in intended vaccine uptake remain vast.

January 19, 2021, 7:00 AM

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say the coronavirus pandemic is not under control in the United States, but far fewer say they'll get vaccinated against it, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.

As the country endures record levels of daily COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, 52% say the virus is "not at all" under control, up sharply from 35% (among registered voters) in October. The view is deeply partisan; 7 in 10 Democrats and 55% of independents say the virus is not at all under control, versus 28% of Republicans.

In terms of vaccination, 63% say they will definitely or probably get the vaccine and 3% say they've already done so. The net (65%, due to rounding) is lower than the 71% who said they would get vaccinated in a similar question in late May. The decline is steepest among those who haven't gone beyond high school (-14 percentage points), Hispanics (-13 points), those ages 18 to 49 (-12 points) and Republicans and conservatives (each -12 points).

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

In what might ordinarily be seen as simply a public health matter, this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds that partisan and ideological differences in intended vaccine uptake remain vast. Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 80% of liberals probably or definitely will get vaccinated or have done so, versus fewer than half of Republicans (46%) and conservatives (48%). And these divisions have widened since last spring.

Concern over catching the virus is strongly linked to intention to get vaccinated. Six in 10 are very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their immediate family might catch it, down from 66% in July and as much as 69% in late March. Among those who are more worried about catching the virus, 79% intend to get vaccinated or have done so, compared with 39% of those who are less worried.

Again, this too, reflects partisan predispositions. Seventy-eight percent of Democrats are very or somewhat worried, versus 63% of independents and just 38% of Republicans.

Beyond those worried about catching it, an additional 1 in 10 now say they or an immediate family member already has caught the virus, up from 5% last summer and just 1% last March.


In terms of the approach ahead, Americans broadly say it's more important to control the spread of the virus than to restart the economy, 62%-33%. At the same time, that 29-point preference for controlling the spread is virtually unchanged from its level in July, despite a more than fourfold increase in newly reported deaths per day.

Those priorities inform assessments of how Donald Trump handled the outbreak. Trump, who emphasized restarting the economy over controlling the pandemic, receives 38% approval on how he's handled the issue, with 59% disapproving. Approval soars to 76% among those who are chiefly concerned with restarting the economy, plummeting to 17% among those who prioritize curbing the virus.

Whether Joe Biden can do better is an open question. As reported Sunday, a narrow majority, 53%, expresses confidence in his ability to make progress on getting the pandemic under control. That includes 87% of Democrats, dropping to 50% of independents and just 18% of Republicans.

Vaccine uptake

As noted, 65% of Americans have either received the vaccine or say they will get it when it becomes available to them, including 4 in 10 who say they will definitely get it, with notable demographic divides.

Intended vaccine uptake peaks among adults age 65 and older, a particularly vulnerable group, at 81%, versus 61% of those 18 to 64. Those planning to "definitely" get the vaccine reaches 59% among seniors versus just 27% among 18- to 29-year-olds.

Education and income also play a role. Intention to get the vaccine is 22 points higher among college-educated adults than those without a college degree, 80% versus 58%. It reaches 79% of Americans with household incomes of $100,000 or more, dropping to 62% of those in lower-income households.

Differences also emerge by urbanicity, with 68% of both urban and suburban residents saying they will get the vaccine or have already done so, compared with 55% of rural residents.

By race, roughly two-thirds across racial and ethnic groups say they either will get the vaccine or already have received it. There are differences, however, in the share who say they "definitely" will get vaccinated: 46% of whites, versus 31% of Black people and 28% of Hispanics.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 10 to 13, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, including design effects. Partisan divisions are 31%-25%-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md. See details on the survey's methodology here.

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