WACO, TX – More than half of Texas Democrats say they’re very likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with less than a third of Texas Republicans, according to recent data collected by the Episcopal Health Foundation.
But those trends have fluctuated throughout the pandemic, according to Matt Motta, an assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University.
Motta said the attitudes of Democrats and Republicans toward the vaccine depend on what party leaders are saying and doing during any given period of time.
“Partisans in the public tend to be very receptive to what partisan elites — political leaders, media pundits — are saying,” Motta said.
He has traced the evolution of attitudes toward the vaccine throughout the pandemic.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, there was really no difference between Democrats and Republicans with respect to whether or not they planned to vaccinate,” Motta said.
However, he said Republicans became less willing to take the vaccine as President Donald Trump and other top Republicans “downplayed the severity of the pandemic.”
Then, shortly before the November election, Democrats’ willingness to take the vaccine dipped as President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris suggested they would not take a vaccine approved by the Trump administration.
Now in Texas and elsewhere across the country Democrats, on average, have a more favorable opinion of the vaccine than their Republican counterparts.
But elected officials at the top of both major political parties are receiving the vaccine on camera and urging Americans to take the vaccine when it is available.