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Biden’s vaccine policy proves more popular than the GOP hoped

It’s been nearly a week since President Joe Biden unveiled an ambitious new policy designed to help end the pandemic, including a newly aggressive approach to vaccinations. Leading Republican officials, none of whom have a plan of their own to end the crisis, did not respond to the developments in an especially constructive way.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, for example, vowed to fight the administration “to the gates of hell.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared in a written statement over the weekend, “NO VACCINE MANDATES.”

As a factual matter, the White House didn’t create “vaccine mandates,” and affected American workers will still be able to choose a frequent testing alternative. Of course, Biden’s GOP critics, demonstrating their post-policy attitudes, clearly aren’t overly interested in substantive details.

Just as important, however, is whether Republican pushback will pay political dividends. So far, survey data appears to favor the White House. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released yesterday, for example, found the president’s policy receiving generally “high marks.” Politico reported these results:

  • Requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing: 58 percent support, 36 percent oppose
  • Requiring federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated for Covid-19, without an option to opt out through regular testing: 57 percent support, 36 percent oppose
  • Requiring most U.S. health care workers to get vaccinated for Covid-19, without an option to opt out through regular testing: 60 percent support, 34 percent oppose

An Axios/Ipsos poll, released this morning, pointed in a similar direction:

Just days after President Biden announced new vaccine requirements for federal employees and businesses with 100 or more workers, the latest Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index (conducted after Biden’s announcement) finds that 60 percent of Americans support the federal government implementing these new policies.

CNN’s newest national poll, meanwhile, also found narrow majorities endorsing vaccine requirements for “office workers returning to the workplace” (54 percent), “students attending in-person classes” (55 percent), and “patrons attending sporting events or concerts” (55 percent).

When Republican officials responded last week with hysterical apoplexy, it’s possible they assumed the American mainstream was already on the GOP’s side. It’s also possible that Republicans believed they could help steer public attitudes with over-the-top condemnations.

But at least at this point in the debate, it appears the American mainstream is more interested in ending the pandemic than going along with a partisan crusade against the president.

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