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This issue of The 45th is a closer look at how the pandemic is hitting Australia and the United States differently. In numbers, sentiment and response, the United States and Australia have had incredibly varied experiences of outbreak. In this week's edition of the 45th, we analyse that divide.
New public polling shows Americans are deeply divided on whether the government-imposed lockdowns to tackle COVID-19 are reasonable, while Australians are more accepting of the measures.
A poll of 2,000 Americans and Australians by the United States Studies Centre, in collaboration with La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne, finds profound partisan disagreements are both symptom and cause of the United States' struggles to respond to the pandemic, with American respondents split on concerns about contracting COVID-19, support for lockdowns, and trust in medical experts.
United States Studies Centre CEO Simon Jackman notes, "Bipartisanship, reliance on scientific expertise, effective policies and public support for those policies form a virtuous circle."
The public is much more willing to support tough policies when political leaders from opposite sides of politics are seen to be united and relying on experts, as we've seen in Australia with the National Cabinet."
This is evident in Australians, who report lower levels of concern about contracting the virus, higher levels of support for lockdowns and trust in medical experts, and almost a complete absence of the partisanship cleaving American public opinion.
In the United States, only 19 per cent of Republicans are very or extremely worried about contracting the virus compared to 48 per cent of Democrats. The polling found no equivalent partisan divide in Australia, with roughly one quarter of Coalition, Labor, and Greens voters saying the same.
"With elections in November, and after the Trump administration's slow response to the crisis in its opening months, prospects of an effective, bipartisan policy in the US evaporated," Jackman says.
To view the full polling report "Fear, Loathing and COVID-19: America and Australia Compared", click here.