Majority of Americans Think U.S. Death Rate Is Wrong, But Democrats Say More Have Likely Died While Republicans Say Fewer: Poll

Nearly two-thirds of all Americans distrust the reported numbers of coronavirus-related deaths, according to an Axios/Ipsos poll.

Generally speaking, Democrats think the actual number of deaths is higher and Republicans think it's lower. Independents fall almost directly between them.

The poll showed that approximately 44 percent of all Americans think the number of actual deaths is higher while 23 percent think it's lower. But the splits diverge dramatically when taking respondents' political affiliation into account.

While 63 percent of Democrats think the actual death count is higher, only 24 percent of Republicans think the same. Conversely, approximately 40 percent of Republicans think the actual death count is lower, but only 7 percent of Democrats do.

"This may be the most jarring evidence to date about just how deeply partisanship has infected our collective ability to trust institutional sources and agree on science and facts," writes Axios reporter Margaret Talev.

United States coronavirus
A man wears a face mask as he check his phone in Times Square on March 22, 2020 in New York City. Kena Batencur/AFP/Getty

Numerous other polls demonstrate the right-and-left split on the coronavirus threat too.

A March 14 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that over 50 percent of Republicans believed the virus's threat had been exaggerated, compared to 20 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Independents.

A nationwide Kaiser Family Foundation poll released the same day reported nearly 50 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents said the virus had disrupted their lives, but only one-third of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents concurred.

A March 16 Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Democrats feared that they or a family member might be exposed to coronavirus, but only 42 percent of Republicans feared the same.

An ongoing poll conducted by the online opinion polling and data analytics company Civiqs found that 59 percent of self-identified Democrats were "extremely concerned" about the virus's spread while only 12 percent of Republicans felt the same.

These polls are just the latest illustration of how political partisanship has shaped attitudes and responses towards the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. The difference could stem from the varying impact the epidemic has had on red and blue regions.

A study by the Libertarian non-profit, The Liberty Fund, found that as of Sunday, April 26, states with Republican governors had 57.53 coronavirus deaths per million people and states with Democratic governors had 179.74 deaths per million.

Put another way, an analysis by Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report found that counties that voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential elections counted for 19 percent of all U.S. coronavirus deaths even though they contain 45 percent of the U.S. population.

This isn't altogether surprising as the virus has so far mostly affected large metropolitan centers with large international airports and public transportation networks—areas known as Democratic strongholds. Comparatively, small towns and rural areas—regions that are typically more isolated, spread out and known for supporting Republicans—have been far less affected.

As a result, states with Republican governors were generally slower to impose shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions than states with Democratic governors.