Or at least, antivaxxer idiocy isn’t correlated with political leanings. Last week, in response to a post by Chris Mooney I argued that liberals weren’t more likely to refuse vaccination, despite the stereotype that vaccination denialism is more prevalent among the left (that’s always struck me as a ‘limousine liberal’ type of canard). Kevin Drum, David Frum, Andrew Sullivan, and Josh Rosenau all chimed in. Chris Mooney, with an assist from Brendan Nyhan, discusses two more polls that indicate political affiliation has little to do with vaccination denialism. First, the response to anti-vaxxer starlet Jenny McCarthy:
In late 2009, USA Today/Gallup asked a question about Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vax views:
Did Jenny McCarthy’s statements (she believes her son developed autism after getting a common childhood vaccine) make you more likely to question the safety of vaccines for children, or did her statements not make you more likely to question the safety of childhood vaccines?
…So here are the results: Liberals (41% not aware, 38 % aware but not more likely, 21 % aware and more likely); Moderates (48 % not aware, 28 % aware but not more likely, 24 % aware and more likely); Conservatives (49 % not aware, 28 % aware but not more likely, 23 % aware and more likely).
These results basically suggest that there’s little or no political divide in terms of who falls for Jenny McCarthy’s misinformation. Notably, liberals were somewhat more aware of her claims and yet, nevertheless, were least likely to listen to them. But not by a huge margin or anything.
Pew in 2009 asked if childhood vaccines should be required or left up to parental choice (which isn’t a great question). The response:
69 % of Americans thought they should be required (vs 82 % of scientists), while 28 % would leave it to parental choice (vs 17 % of scientists).
What’s interesting here is that Pew also provided a political breakdown of the results, and there was simply no difference between Democrats and Republicans. 71 % of members of both parties said childhood vaccinations should be required, while 26 % of Republicans and 27 % of Democrats said parents should decide. (Independents were slightly worse: 67 % said vaccinations should be required, while 30 % favored parental choice.)
It seems this issue hasn’t been politicized (yet). Now, if only more people would get their flu shots…