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COVID-19 in Missouri

By Steven Rogers, Ph.D., Director of SLU/YouGov Poll

COVID-19 has affected every Missourian’s life.  The most recent SLU/YouGov poll finds that voters are becoming less satisfied with their local elected officials’ and school districts’ handling of the pandemic.  The survey also finds that an overwhelming majority of Missourians wear masks all the time, but there are notable differences between Democrats and Republicans.  And only a slim majority (51%) of Missourians would get an FDA-approved, COVID-19 vaccine today if it were made available for free.

Approval of Local Officials’ Handling of the Pandemic Drops

Parson and Trump Approval remain the same, local elected officials and school districts approval for handling of COVID-19 drops

In each June and October SLU/YouGov Polls, Missourians stated whether they approved or disapproved of different government officials’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approval of President Trump and Governor Parsons stayed relatively the same across the two surveys. A majority of voters still approve of how “Mayors/County Executives” and “Local School Districts” have handled the pandemic, but approval of these more local officials has dropped. Approval of “Mayors/County Executives” fell by over 7 points.

Approval of local school district’s handling the pandemic has dropped even more, after schools reopened in the fall.  In June, 65% of voters approved how local school districts handled the pandemic, but 55% of voters approved in October.  A contributor to this drop is levels of approval from parents with kids in school.  In June, 77% of parents approved of their local school district’s performance, but in October, only 66% approved.  Overall, most voters and parents approve of their school district’s handling of COVID-19, but support is declining.

Masks and Vaccines

73% of voters indicated they wear a mask or face covering “all of the time” when in a “store or business,” and 22% indicate they wear a mask “some of the time.”  Despite impressions that younger citizens care less about the pandemic, 18 – 29 year old’s were the most likely to report wearing a mask all of the time. The SLU/YouGov poll also asked respondents to rate their personal health in the last month, and those who said their health was “Fair” or “Poor” were at least 10% more likely to wear a mask all of the time as compared to those who rated their health as “Good” or “Excellent.” Voters who rated themselves in “Excellent” health were the most likely to “Never” wear a mask in a store or business.

51% of voters say they would get an FDA approved Vaccine in available

A slim majority of voters also stated they would likely get an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine if it were available today for free. 51% indicated they would “Definitely” or “Probably” get the vaccine, and 49% stated they would “Probably not” or “Definitely not” get the vaccine. The SLU/YouGov poll found that parents of children are more wary of giving their vaccines to children, with only 45% of parents being willing to get a vaccine for their child. 

By comparison, 68% of voters would probably or definitely get an FDA-approve flu vaccine for themselves, and 62% of parents would for their child.  Voters who definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine were less trusting of the FDA.  When asked if they trusted the FDA, over 50% of these “definitely not” voters indicated that they “Probably not trust” or “Definitely not trust” the FDA.

COVID-19 Political Polarization

A new question on the October SLU/YouGov poll asked voters to approve or disapprove of how “Your fellow Missourians” have handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and Missourians were split, largely along party lines. 46% of Missouri voters approved, and 45% of voters disapproved.  When breaking these results down by party, 74% of Republicans approved of their fellow Missourians’ handling of the pandemic, but only 17% of Democrats approved.  Independent voters were split 43% to 48%.

Democrats more likely than Republicans to wear a mask, get a vaccine, or trust public health organizations

Such a split in how partisans view other Missourians' behavior parallels these voters’ own behavior. Missouri Democrats and Republicans approach and view the COVID-19 pandemic very differently.  For instance, 92% of Democratic voters report they wear a mask “all of the time” in stores and small businesses, but only 60% of Republican voters do. 59% of Democrats report they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if available, but only 44% of Republicans would.  Democratic voters were additionally more trusting of the FDA, CDC, Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, and their local public health departments.

COVID-19 and the Election

Polarization over COVID-19 will also likely impact who will show up to the polls on election day.  Overall, the SLU/YouGov Poll found that 77% of voters plan to vote in-person on Election Day. There, however, is again a big divide between Republicans and Democrats.  89% percent of Republicans plan to vote on Election Day, but only 62% of Democrats plan to go to the polls on November 3rd.

Similar differences were found among Governor Parson and Nicole Galloway supporters. 87% of Parson supporters indicate that they plan to vote in person on November 3, but only 62% of Galloway supporters indicated they will do the same.  If Galloway cuts away at Parson’s lead, and results look close on election night, Missourians will be waiting for mail in and absentee ballots to be counted before a winner can be declared.