59% of Trump Supporters Want to Jail or Fine People Who Refuse Face Masks

A new poll suggests that a majority of Americans, including those who support President Donald Trump, are in favor of levying fines or jail time to people who refuse to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most Americans approve of orders strictly requiring masks be worn in public to halt the spread of the virus, according to poll released Wednesday from Politico/Morning Consult.

A 53 percent majority of all respondents said they would "strongly support" mandatory mask orders that include jail time or fines for people who refuse, with an additional 19 percent supporting the proposal "somewhat." Only 21 percent opposed or somewhat opposed the mandate.

The poll found that a 59 percent majority of Republicans supported potentially jailing or fining those who refuse masks, with 86 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Independents agreeing. Republicans who opposed the proposal were 35 percent, compared to 33 percent of Independents and only 9 percent of Democrats.

The only group with more people saying they disapproved of the measure than approved were those who said they "strongly approved" of Trump's job performance, with 48 percent opposing mask orders with jail or fines and 46 percent supporting.

However, a majority of those who approved of Trump were still in favor of the mandate, with 55 of those who said they "approve" of Trump's performance without "strongly" approving agreeing to the strict mask requirement, along with 67 percent of those who "somewhat" approved of the president.

"With public health officials putting renewed emphasis on mask-wearing to combat the coronavirus, nearly three-quarters of voters—including over half of Republicans—would support their state instituting a mandatory mask order for public spaces, even if not wearing a mask could result in a fine or jail time," Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, told Politico.

The poll surveyed 1,991 registered voters online from July 17 to 19. It has a margin of error of 2 percent.

Officer holding face mask and handcuffs
Polling suggests a majority of Americans now support mandatory face masks to halt the ongoing spread of COVID-19, including punishing those who refuse with jail time or fines. Irina Velichkina/Getty

Public health experts agree that wearing masks is an effective way of limiting the spread of the virus, although success is heavily dependent on widespread compliance since masks are far more effective at preventing infections spreading to others as opposed to offering protection for the mask wearers.

Trump refused to wear a mask for months despite having announced recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all Americans wear them in April. However, he has reversed course as COVID-19 cases continue to rapidly multiply, taking to Twitter on Monday to post a picture of himself while calling the practice "patriotic."

"We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance," Trump tweeted. "There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!"

However, the president has continued to dismiss suggestions that he should impose a national mandate on masks, telling Chris Wallace he opposes the measure because he wants "people to have a certain freedom" in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.