There are a couple of interesting things about this story, and what they might tell us about Ireland. By far the most interesting thing, though, is how the numbers break down. Traditionally, in American polling, it is easy enough to understand where support and opposition to a President’s policies come from: His own party backs it, the other crowd oppose it. Sheer political partisanship will get you a long way in the United States and, to be fair, in most western countries. People will often rationalise things as good if their crowd does them, and bad, if the other crowd does them. Not here, though – or, at least, that’s not the most notable division. 33% of Republicans, in fact, back him:
The poll shows that while 58 percent of U.S. adults are in favor of vaccination mandates or weekly testing for employees at businesses with at least 100 workers — a key tenet of the new plan — there’s a massive partisan gap, with 80 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans supporting such a requirement. Another 14 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of GOP adults oppose the rule.
No, in fact, if you dig into the details of the poll, you’ll find something much more predictive of support for vaccine mandates than simple party membership:
Look at that. 70% of the vaccinated support the vaccine mandates. Only about 21% oppose. For the unvaccinated, those figures are almost perfectly flipped. On vaccination, we may finally have found a culture war issue which transcends usual political lines.
In other words, Republican voters – usually staunch Biden opponents – change their stance on vaccine mandates to being in favour once they are vaccinated themselves. If you take a vaccine, you tend to believe that everyone should take a vaccine. And if you don’t take a vaccine, you tend (not exclusively, but tend) to believe that nobody should take one.
What does this mean for Ireland?
Well, of course, here in Ireland, vaccination uptake rates are vastly higher than they are in the United States. That does tend to suggest that if the pattern in the American polling holds, those who oppose vaccine mandates here would have a tough time winning the public to their side should the Government ever decide to introduce one.
Biden’s mandate, incidentally, is not really a true mandate. The Government is not going to be going door to door forcing needles into arms. What it says is that if you are a private business doing business with Biden’s Government, all of your employees must be jabbed, or you will lose your contract. There is some dispute over whether this is constitutional, but of course, by the time the courts figure that one out, companies will already have decided either to forego their federal contracts, or tell their staff to jab up. Most, you’d imagine, will err on the side of money.
That is not dissimilar to the approach that has so far been taken in Ireland. We have had controversies this summer with Student nurses, for example, being told they must be jabbed, and various other state agencies doing what they can to make vaccines mandatory for workers. There has been very little, to no, public outcry.
The issue mandate opponents must face here is that it is highly unlikely – on either side of the Atlantic – that the public are on their side. Their best hope, frankly, is that the pandemic wanes fast enough that the public stops caring about all of this and moves back onto more familiar political ground, like health and the economy. The longer it lasts, the more the public will happily blame those who refuse a vaccine. And neither the media, nor politicians, will do much to discourage them.