After the non-stop fear-mongering by most of the media (but especially right wing media) about Ebola, it’s not surprising that the latest Pew poll shows a rise in the general public’s fear level. But a majority of the respondents still believe the US government and hospital systems are capable of preventing a major outbreak.
Public concern about the spread of the Ebola virus in the U.S. has increased since early October. Currently, 41% are worried that they themselves or someone in their family will be exposed to the virus, including 17% who say they are very worried. In a survey two weeks ago, 32% worried about exposure to Ebola; 11% said they were very worried.
Most people (58%) express little or no concern about becoming exposed to Ebola, though that is down from 67% in early October. And majorities have at least a fair amount of confidence in both the federal government and U.S. hospitals to deal with the disease.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Oct. 15-20 among 2,003 adults, finds that 54% express either a great deal (18%) or fair amount (36%) of confidence in the federal government to “prevent a major outbreak of the Ebola virus in the U.S.” This is little changed from early October, when 57% had a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the government to prevent a major Ebola outbreak.
A very interesting and telling result from this survey: Republicans (who almost exclusively get their news from Fox and other right wing sources) have gotten significantly more fear-stricken since earlier this month. And obviously, it’s due to the panicky and often misleading nature of so much right wing media coverage of the disease.
Since early October, worries about Ebola exposure have increased across most demographic and partisan groups. But the rise in concern has been particularly striking among Republicans.
In early October, 33% of Republicans were at least somewhat worried that they themselves or a family member would be exposed to the Ebola virus (7% very worried, 26% somewhat worried). Today, nearly half of Republicans (49%) are worried, with 16% saying they are very worried and 33% somewhat worried.
There has been less change among Democrats - 36% now have at least some concern about personal exposure to Ebola, compared with 30% in early October. The partisan gap in Ebola worries, which was negligible two weeks ago (three points), has increased to 13 points in the current survey.