Voters worry Trump tying Covid vaccine to 2020 election, polls say

Dr. Matilde “Mattie” Castiel receives an injection from RN Bethany Trainor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA on September 04, 2020.

Craig F. Walker | Boston Globe | Getty Images

Most voters, both nationally and in six key swing states, worry President Donald Trump is pushing to release a coronavirus vaccine too quickly in order to boost his reelection chances this year, according to new CNBC/Change Research polls.

Across the country, 61% of likely voters said they are concerned the president is trying to push out the vaccine too early, to help his chances of winning a second White House term in November, the survey released Wednesday found. It included 52% of respondents who said they are “very concerned.” 

In the pivotal states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, a similar 57% share of voters said they worry Trump is pressing to release a vaccine too quickly. Among swing-state respondents, 46% said they are “very concerned.” 

At the same time, voters’ willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest chance has fallen in recent months. Nationally, only 42% of likely voters said they will definitely or probably receive the inoculation when it first becomes available.

That figure has fallen from 58% in July. Democrats have contributed to the change: In Thursday’s poll, only 30% said they would definitely get a vaccine, down from 57% in July. 

The swing-state poll surveyed 3,018 likely voters from Friday to Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. The national poll surveyed 1,430 likely voters from Friday to Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Trump has repeatedly predicted a vaccine could be ready by the Nov. 3 election, contradicting key officials in his administration. As the president struggles to contain a pandemic that has now killed 200,000 Americans, he has pointed to a vaccine as a solution to return to pre-outbreak life — and restart a struggling U.S. economy he once saw as his ticket to reelection. 

“We think we can start some time in October,” Trump said last week about distributing the vaccine. “So as soon as it’s announced we’ll be able to start. That will be from mid-October on. It may be a little bit later than that.”

Earlier in the same day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers that high-risk populations could start to receive vaccinations in limited quantities by November or December. It could take “six to nine months” to vaccinate the whole U.S. population, he said. 

Trump claimed Redfield was mistaken in his comments. 

Both Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris have said they worry Trump’s comments could undermine Americans’ confidence in a vaccine. Last week, Biden tried to make a distinction between listening to the experts in Trump’s administration and believing the president’s word. 

“I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump,” he said. 

These charts show how Covid-19 is spreading in 6 battleground states

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