Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Poll: 62% of Americans Think an Ebola Outbreak Is Likely in American City; Tea Party Supporters Most Likely To Say Outbreak Is 'Very Likely'


In August, 40 percent of Americans thought an Ebola outbreak in the United States was likely, today that number has surged to 62 percent who believe an outbreak is likely, according to the latest Reason-Rupe poll.  This includes 23 percent who believe it is "very likely" and 39 percent who say it's "somewhat likely."

Thirty-six percent of Americans say an Ebola outbreak in the US is unlikely, including 25 percent who say "not too likely" and 11 percent who think it's "not at all likely."

Americans with more education are less likely to believe Ebola will spread in the US. For instance, 65 percent of those with high school diplomas or less believe an outbreak is likely compared to 59 percent with college degrees and 46 percent of those with post-graduate degrees.

Perception of Ebola risk does vary by political beliefs as well. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats believe an Ebola outbreak is likely, compared to 69 percent of Republicans. This percentage rises to 73 percent among tea party supporters. Interestingly, tea party supporters are almost twice as likely as regular Republicans to believe such an outbreak is "very likely."

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1004 adults on cell phones (503) and landlines (501) October 1-6, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.8%. Full poll results can be found here. including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls).

NEXT: Pelosi-Bashing Gains Popularity—With Democrats

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  1. Not the Tea Partiers best moment.

    1. It is a function of not believing TOP. MEN. reassurances?

      1. Yeah, I think a big part of this is believing that the government is too incompetent to stop it, which I can’t entirely blame them for.

      2. No, it’s a function of ignorance and hysteria. There. Will. Not. Be. No. American. Ebola. Outbreak. Not happening. More worried about EVD68 and MERS.

        1. “There. Will. Not. Be. No. American. Ebola. Outbreak.”

          So… you’re saying that there will be one.

          1. DERP. Fucking double negatives how do they work!?

            1. A linguistics professor tells his class “In languages such as English, a double negative becomes a positive, while in languages like Russian, a double negative remains a negative, but in no language is a double positive a negative”, to which a student replies “yeah. right.”

        2. It broke out in Spain yesterday. Care to make a small wager it won’t break out in the US in some way soon?

          But, I agree with you it is very unlikely to ever be a big thing.

          However, I would have probably answered a poll that it is likely to break onto our shores in the next while. Zero fear about it by the way, and zero ignorance.

      3. Seems reasonable to me. Also, did the survey define “outbreak”? Because we may already have an instance of ebola spreading from one person to another in the Dallas area. After we were told it was highly unlikely ebola would come to the US at all.

        1. It’s not reasonable. There is nothing to fear from Ebola.

          1. It’s not reasonable to doubt the competence and honesty of government Top Men? Really?

            1. That isn’t what I said and that doesn’t have bearing on what I said.

          2. You can think it is reasonable a few people will get it and die in the US and not fear it.

            Some people get flus each year and die. I don’t fear that. But, believing Ebola will never hop the ocean and hit the US and Canada in any way is to me, irrational.

        2. It’s not a reasonable fear at all. Over 50,000 people die of influenza every year in the United States. It’s the 8th most common cause of death according to the CDC. Yet very few Americans fear the flu.

      4. I believe so. Probably also explains the correlation with education — clearly it isn’t like most people are educated in virology, so it’s just a question of having trust in those who do claim the mantle of expertise.

    2. I don’t think it’s the pollster’s best moment. They don’t define “outbreak” in the questionnaire. According to WHO, the single Texas case might be considered an outbreak:

      A disease outbreak is the occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season. An outbreak may occur in a restricted geographical area, or may extend over several countries. It may last for a few days or weeks, or for several years.

      A single case of a communicable disease long absent from a population, or caused by an agent (e.g. bacterium or virus) not previously recognized in that community or area, or the emergence of a previously unknown disease, may also constitute an outbreak and should be reported and investigated.

      Personally, I wouldn’t consider the single case an outbreak; however, the quarantine of distinct populations (family, hospital ward) and a possible second case might raise it to “outbreak”.

  2. “Americans with more education are less likely to believe Ebola will spread in the US.”

    “Tea Party Supporters Most Likely To Say Outbreak Is “Very Likely”


    1. “Education”

      1. Indeed…education.


          1. Were you’re tea party sensitivities tickled? Poor baby.

            1. WTF is a ‘tea party sensitivity’?

    2. There has already been an outbreak.

      Let me help you with this one:

      Those who are ‘educated’ tend to believe whatever they’re told more so than those who have not been so indoctrinated.

      1. No, there most certainly has not already been an outbreak. One person contracting a disease is not an outbreak.

  3. What’s the precise scientific definition of an “outbreak” anyway? A hundred people infected? A thousand? A certain minimum percentage of a population group?

    Without knowing that, the question is a bit silly, don’t you think?

    1. If the head of the CDC catches Ebola, the definition of “outbreak” will be “one”.

  4. Also, why is this important and who gives a fucking crap? This is just more politicization of science, which is pointless, if not dangerous.

    Virology is serious business, and a much harder and more legitimate science than climatology or economics. I don’t have a postgraduate degree, but I’m pretty sure that the Ebola virus doesn’t really care what political party you belong to.

    1. That’s Ebola II: Death to the fascist teabaggers!

    2. To suggest that climatology isn’t a “hard science” or that it in any way lacks “legitimacy” is a joke.

  5. I can’t believe no one polled the millennials about this.

  6. Questions like this are meaningless.

    There has been an outbreak already. How can you say there won’t be one. It was a small outbreak, but there was one nevertheless.

    If 100 people die, I would be surprised. But, it is not unreasonable to say there will be an outbreak.

  7. There totally won’t be an Ebola outbreak because it can only be spread through human contact that involves pretty much all human fluids, duh.

    I mean, HIV is almost like that except it’s mostly only transmitted through blood or sexual contact and look at how easily the CDC totally contained that. Oh, wait.

    1. HIV had already spread widely in America before anybody even knew it existed.

  8. *Americans with more education are less likely to believe Ebola will spread in the US.*


    The most educated people I know are some of the most misinformed people I know. At least, those that are lib dems.

    1. Or maybe they just know more than you do, and you’re to ignorant to recognize your own ignorance.

  9. My experience with most educated people is they tend to believe whatever is told to them in scientifical terms.

    If the head of CDC says not to worry. They don’t worry. If they read an incorrect newspaper article that quotes a scientist who says not to worry. They don’t worry.

    They spent years being told not to think, and just to memorize. Do you actually think most of them know how to think?

    (I have a masters degree, by the way.)

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