New Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos Poll finds most Americans say the Coronavirus Pandemic is a Natural Disaster

Three in Ten Americans Blame China or Chinese People for the Pandemic

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jennifer Berg Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Jinhee Yi Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, April 28, 2020

A new Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos poll finds that while the majority of Americans say the Coronavirus pandemic is a natural disaster, about 3 in 10 Americans blame China or Chinese people for the pandemic.

Detailed Findings

1. A majority of Americans (56%) believe the coronavirus pandemic is a natural disaster:

  • Republicans (60%), retirees (51%), and those without a college education (48%) are most likely to believe that specific people or organizations are responsible for the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Asians are the race/ethnicity most likely to say the coronavirus pandemic is a natural disaster rather than caused by a specific people or organization; 79% compared to 55% of African American and White and 51% of Hispanic respondents.

2. Among the 44% who say a specific group or organization is responsible, most blame China or Chinese people; 66% mentioned China. More specifically, 45% mentioned China or Chinese people generally, 13% say it was caused by a lab in China, and 9% blame the Chinese government.

  • 12% of respondents mentioned the US government, the government in general, or the government of a country other than China as the cause of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • About 3% of respondents said they thought the coronavirus pandemic was part of a viral/biological war or attack.
  • 7% blame Animal/wet markets and 7% blame carelessness in general.

3. One-third have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the coronavirus epidemic (32%).

  • Significantly more Asians (60%), Hispanics (48%), and African Americans (43%) have witnessed someone blaming Asian people compared to White respondents (27%).
  • Democrats are also significantly more likely to admit to having witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the coronavirus compared to Republicans (41% and 24% respectively).

4. Respondents are most concerned about proximity to others that are sneezing, coughing, or looks tired or sick; 91% said they would be concerned about coming in close contact with someone out in public who was coughing or sneezing and 81% said they would be concerned about coming in close contact with someone who looked sick or tired. A large number of respondents are also concerned about coming in close contact with someone who is not using protective gear, such as a face mask or gloves (70%).

  • These worries are equally shared across racial/ethnicity groups, however, Democrats are more likely to be worried about coming in close contact with someone one who is coughing or sneezing (94%), looks sick (85%), or is not using protective gear (79%) compared to Republicans (91%, 81%, and 60% respectively).
  • About half of respondents said they would be concerned about coming in close contact in public with someone who is elderly (56%).

5. Far fewer respondents say they would be concerned about coming in close contact with someone of Asian ancestry in public (24%), although, worry increases if that person is not using protective gear (46%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 16-17, 2020, on behalf of the Center for Public Integrity. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 389 Republicans, 443 Democrats, and 89 Independents.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,001, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.3 percentage points for Democrats, and plus or minus 11.8 percentage points for Independents.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
chris.jackson@ipsos.com

Jennifer Berg
Director, US
Public Affairs
+1 773 251-0171
jennifer.berg@ipsos.com

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
kate.silverstein@ipsos.com

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

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The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jennifer Berg Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Jinhee Yi Research Analyst, US, Public Affairs

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