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The coronavirus is no longer a major problem for Americans.  This is good news for Republicans


Indeed, a story that might have made waves months ago – the government authorizing a fourth Covid-19 vaccine for adults aged 50 and over – has barely made a dent. The fact that the coronavirus pandemic, now in its third year, is no longer a top news story is the starting point for this week’s statistical journey.
A recent Gallup poll gives us some good insight. Just 3% of Americans said the coronavirus or disease is the number one issue facing the country. This is less than half of the previous low for this response (8%), which occurred in mid-2021 when case rates were also dropping.

Two years ago (April 2020), a record 45% said coronavirus was the country’s biggest problem. It is not surprising that we are still far from this level. Still, I had to take a step back when I saw that 3%.

In January, 20% of Americans said the coronavirus was the most important issue facing the country.

The Gallup poll is not alone in showing that the importance of the pandemic in the minds of Americans has dropped dramatically. A recent NBC News poll also found that just 3% said the coronavirus was the most important issue facing the country.
The public is not alone in caring less than ever about the pandemic. Cable news had fewer “covid” mentions in March (less than 2,700) than any month since the pandemic began. At its peak, there were more than 17,000 monthly “covid” mentions on cable news.

This change in coronavirus coverage likely helps Republicans. The pandemic has been one of Biden’s top issues. In the NBC News poll, more Americans endorsed Biden on the coronavirus (51%) than on any other issue.

But an ABC News-Washington Post poll from February showed about as many voters (42%) trusted Democrats on the coronavirus as Republicans (39%).

Compare what Americans think about the coronavirus with what they think about the economy. Economic issues are now cited by more Americans as the top issue (35%) than any other issue, according to Gallup.

Biden’s approval on the economy was 33%, according to the NBC News poll. (Sixty-three percent disagreed.) Voters trusted the Republican Party to manage the economy by 20 points (55% to 35% for Democrats), according to the ABC News-Washington Post survey.

A midterm election on the economy and related issues (eg, inflation) is an election Republicans are in a better position to win. And given recent midterm indicators, Republicans will likely do just fine in November.

Americans may lose interest in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Unlike the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was never the priority issue for the Americans. It was, however, the main news story.

The latest poll shows American interest in the conflict may be waning, with a noticeable partisan divide emerging.

Take a look at the Reuters/Ipsos polls. While this weekly survey doesn’t specifically ask about Ukraine, it does include “war and foreign conflict” as an option when asking about the most important issue facing America.
This week, 11% of Americans said war and foreign conflict was the most important issue. That’s down from 14% the previous week, 16% two weeks ago and 17% three weeks ago.
This decline in interest is reflected in what we see on television. There were about 4,500 mentions of Ukraine during the Monday-Wednesday period on cable news last week. In the same three days four weeks prior, Ukraine had been mentioned about 7,000 times.

The drop was sharpest on Fox. While mentions of Ukraine on CNN and MSNBC have fallen about 28% over the past month, they have fallen 50% on Fox.

The coronavirus is no longer a major problem for Americans.  This is good news for Republicans

Unsurprisingly, the Americans least likely to care about what happens abroad tend to be Republicans. Three weeks ago, 17% of Republicans told Ipsos that war and foreign conflict was the nation’s most important issue. This week, it’s 8%. Four times as many Republicans (32%) said the country’s biggest problem was the economy, unemployment and jobs, according to this week’s poll. Among Democrats, 18% ranked the economy, unemployment and jobs as the top issue, compared with 13% who declared war and foreign conflict.

The partisan divide over the importance of foreign conflict is also found in other polls. The Gallup poll I mentioned earlier is a bit older, although it specifically mentions Russia and Ukraine. In this survey, 9% of Americans said that the “situation with Russia and Ukraine” was the main problem facing the country. Among the Democrats, it was 12%. Among the Republicans, it was 4%.

To be clear, Democrats and Republicans generally have similar feelings about the role America should play in Ukraine. It’s just that Democrats are more committed to the issue.

For your brief encounters: Women’s college basketball is well attended.

Most of the attention this weekend will be on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. Still, many Americans are keeping tabs on the women’s tournament, which I recently reported on.

One thing to keep in mind: Over 4 million Americans watched last year’s women’s college basketball championship game. None of the Stanley Cup games reached that level of viewership in the United States last year.

Brief encounter from last week: I’ve talked before about how the Oscars saw declining ratings. There’s been a bit of a pick-up this year, with almost 17 million people tuning in last Sunday.

Undoubtedly, many who weren’t watching started paying attention once news of Smith slapping Rock became known.

While it’s unclear what repercussions Smith will face, keep in mind that about 75% of Americans viewed him favorably ahead of this year’s Oscars telecast. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his popularity plummet.

Remnants of surveys

Life evaluation: Only 53% of Americans are considered “prosperous”, according to a new Gallup poll. This is the lowest rating for over a year. In June 2021, 59% of Americans — a 14-year high — were estimated to be booming by Gallup’s measure.
Cryptocurrency: A fifth of American adults indicated in an NBC News poll that they had used or traded cryptocurrency. Half of all men under 50 say they have at least tried crypto. A Pew Research Center poll last year supports the idea that young Americans and men are most likely to use this form of currency.
Governor of New York: He hasn’t announced that he’s running, but former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would compete with current Governor Kathy Hochul in a possible June Democratic primary. Cuomo, who resigned following a state attorney general’s investigation that found he sexually harassed 11 women, trailed Hochul by 8 points, 38% to 30%, in a Siena College poll. this week. The deadline for submitting applicants in New York is April 7.

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