COVID Poll Yields Surprising Results About Who Really Is Afraid of the Virus


We’ve officially entered the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen our world shut down and our freedoms curbed by a virus that transmits fear even more effectively than disease.

However, at this point, the common wisdom was that if we don’t know where the virus will go from here, we had a good handle on who was afraid of it.

Older people, particularly given their tendency toward more medical preconditions, are supposed to be more predisposed to fretting about catching COVID. Young people, who are at considerably less risk of dying or experiencing complications from coronavirus, should be less worried.

At least during the omicron wave, people who are vaccinated and boosted should feel particularly secure — especially compared to the unvaccinated.

A new poll from Morning Consult and The New York Times, however, reached startlingly counterintuitive results: Those who are supposed to be least at risk are some of the most fearful of the virus.

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Of course, this is due in no small part to the fear-mongering coverage from the mainstream media, which has continuously slammed the panic button for two years now. Here at The Western Journal, we strive to keep the threat of COVID-19 in context — and provide a counterbalance to the anxieties stoked by the mainstream media. You can help us bring America the truth by subscribing.

The Morning Consult/New York Times poll found 58 percent of respondents were worried about getting sick from COVID in the next year, compared with 39 percent who weren’t worried about it.

However, the breakdown of who was worried and how worried they were should undercut some of our common assumptions about the mental toll of the virus.

Twenty-three percent of respondents ages 18-34 found themselves “very” worried about getting COVID, compared with only 17 percent in the 65-plus bracket who felt the same way.

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In fact, there were more 18-to-34-year-olds “very” worried about COVID infection in the next year than in any other cohort (20 percent each for respondents ages 35-44 and 45-64).

Another 35 percent of 18-34s said they were “somewhat” worried about catching COVID in the next year. While this was 6 percentage points less than the number of 65-plus respondents who were worried about getting sick, the numbers were still similar: 61 percent of the 65-plus group were “very” or “somewhat” worried about infection, compared with 58 percent of 18-34s.

The results came from a survey of 4,411 people taken Jan. 14-16. The margin of error was plus or minus 1 percent.

What’s more, it turned out the more thoroughly vaccinated one was, the more afraid they were of the disease.

Only 14 percent of the unvaccinated were “very” concerned about catching COVID in the next year. Another 25 percent were “somewhat” concerned.

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For those vaccinated with no booster, 22 percent were “very” concerned, with another 39 percent being “somewhat” concerned.

And those vaccinated with boosters were the most concerned of all, with 22 percent “very” concerned and 46 percent “somewhat” concerned.

David Leonhardt’s writeup of the results Tuesday in the Times talked of the “disconnect” between the “two COVID Americas,” all in typically Timesean prose.

“It’s a remarkable disconnect between perception and reality,” he wrote. “A majority of the boosted say they are worried about getting sick from Covid. In truth, riding in a car presents more danger to most of them than the virus does.

“A majority of the unvaccinated, on the other hand, say they are not particularly worried. The starkest, saddest way to understand the irrationality of this view is to listen to the regret of unvaccinated people who are desperately sick from Covid or who have watched relatives die from it.”

That last judgment might be a bit harsh, however — as writer Kat Rosenfeld pointed out on Twitter.

Rosenfeld noted that “working class people are more likely to be unvaxxed but also more likely to have had covid early on (bc they were working while the rest of us were locked down), and to know people who had it and recovered, all of which makes a difference to how you think about the virus.”

She added that “it doesn’t mean they’re *right* (people should get vaccinated!) but it does mean that their calculus vis-a-vis the risk of the virus is probably based on something a lil more reasonable and empathetic than ‘they were brainwashed by Fox News.'”

Beyond the possibility that blue-collar conservatives have gotten and recovered from COVID and are leaning on natural immunity, however, is the remarkable amount of fear instilled in younger (and more likely liberal) Americans as well as the vaccinated and boosted. They face little threat, we’re told — and yet more of them are “very” concerned about catching the virus than more vulnerable populations.

Leonhardt’s interpretation is that political ideology is responsible for this, as older Americans tend to be more conservative. This is the Times, after all, and even if the poll shows numbers wildly out of line with expectations, it still needs to lambaste the Republicans who “have decided that downplaying Covid is core to their identity as conservatives.”

However, he points out what the installation of fear hath wrought:

“Millions of Democrats have decided that organizing their lives around Covid is core to their identity as progressives, even as pandemic isolation and disruption are fueling mental-health problems, drug overdoses, violent crime, rising blood pressure and growing educational inequality.

“As David Hogg, a gun-control activist, tweeted last year, ‘The inconvenience of having to wear a mask is more than worth it to have people not think I’m a conservative.'”

The Times is hardly guiltless here, being one of the more shameless COVID fear merchants, but at least it has stumbled across crumbs of the truth here.

The bottom line: For many who faced very little real threat from the virus, the anxiety has done far worse things to them than SARS-CoV-2 ever would have.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture