Fewer than half of all Americans say they trust Dr. Anthony Fauci, the controversial director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when it comes to the fight against COVID-19, a new I&I/TIPP Poll shows. But as with many other issues these days, the level of trust in Fauci is highly partisan.
The December I&I/TIPP Poll asked: “Generally speaking, how much trust do you have in Dr. Anthony Fauci’s opinions related to coronavirus?”
Of those responding, 47% said they had “a lot of trust” or “quite a bit of trust” in Fauci, while 41% said they had “little trust” or “no trust at all.” Another 13% responded they were “not sure.”
The December data were collected from I&I/TIPP Poll’s survey of 1,301 adults, which was conducted online from Dec. 1-4 by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, I&I’s polling partner. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.
As often noted, the data skew strongly based on the political affiliation of those responding. The differences are stark.
Among Democrats, 45% say they have “a lot of trust” in Fauci, while 27% say “quite a bit,” for a total of 72%. Meanwhile, just 8% of Republicans offer a lot of trust in Fauci and 13% “quite a bit,” for a total of 21%.
A near-mirror image of those numbers emerges when asking whether survey respondents have “little trust” or “no trust at all.”
Just 13% of Democrats say they have little trust in the chief medical bureaucrat charged with managing the U.S. response to the pandemic, while only 5% say they have no trust at all. That’s a total of just 18%
Republicans’ lack of trust is evident in the overall number of 70% who lack faith in Fauci, with 22% saying they have little faith and a sizeable 48% plurality saying they have none.
Independents, once again, split the difference between the two major parties. Just 16% say they grant Fauci a lot of trust, and 20% award him “quite a bit,” for a total of 36%.
And, like the Republicans, the independents, and “other” voters mostly don’t trust Fauci, with 49% giving him negative trust responses, with 23% saying “little trust” and 26% saying “no trust.”
An equally intriguing gap exists between men and women. Just 37% of women trust Fauci, while 45% don’t. Among men, 55% trust him, just 37% don’t.
Race is another fissure in the public’s opinion of Fauci. Blacks and Hispanics are nearly statistically identical, and together 51% of these two key demographic groups say they trust Fauci, while 35% say they don’t.
Whites, meanwhile, break nearly even, with 45% saying they trust Fauci, and 44% saying they don’t.
The data clearly indicate that Fauci has become a lightning rod of sorts for partisan public opinion. The high degree of distrust suggests public disappointment with the handling of the pandemic, which has created economic and social uncertainty and further widened America’s already-wide political divide.
As the leading figure in the government’s COVID-19 fight, Fauci has borne the brunt of criticism for the government’s failures to stem the virus’ effects and return the country to normal. One major factor has been Fauci’s propensity for changing his mind on key issues, including the wearing of masks, herd immunity, and bans on flights from overseas.
But perhaps his most controversial moment during the pandemic came when he told Congress he didn’t provide funding for “gain of function” virus research at China’s Wuhan Laboratory, which many scientists now suggest was the likely place of origin of the deadly virus.
It later turned out that Fauci had in fact helped fund the research, setting off a loud and at times rancorous debate between Fauci and key Republican senators.
Fauci’s perceived failures include COVID-19 deaths under President Joe Biden now exceeding those under President Donald Trump, and the ongoing threat of further lockdowns and collateral damage to the economy and Americans’ health from the government’s response to the pandemic.
The ongoing damage ranges from surging suicides and drug overdose deaths, to the interruption of children’s education and increased mortality from seriously ill patients postponing medical care during the COVID emergency, among other troubling issues.
With many Americans suffering from COVID-19 fatigue, Fauci’s status as the main policymaker in charge of ending the pandemic looks shaky at best, as the I&I/TIPP data appear to indicate. But Fauci has headed his department since 1984, and during his long, controversial tenure he has weathered many past storms of public opinion.
Whether COVID-19 is one of them, remains to be seen.
Both now and moving into the new year, I&I/TIPP will continue to provide timely and informative data from our monthly polls on this topic and on others of interest. TIPP has distinguished itself by being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.
Evidently, only 41% of American adults are capable of critical reasoning. The rest either have pudding for brains or are afflicted by a terminal inability to reach a conclusion, hence the large “not sure” cohort.
Who would listen to anyone in this fake administration?