by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Gallup’s pollsters published a troubling discovery on Tuesday in a survey asking American adults how they were coping with post-pandemic life: For a shocking number of Americans, there is no such thing as post-pandemic life.
In the last week of February, only 33 percent of Americans said their life “is completely back to normal,” post-Covid, up modestly from October’s 31 percent. Another 20 percent said that while returning to the status quo ante was possible, it hadn’t happened for them yet. But most — 47 percent — said their lives had not returned to normal and never would.
Partisanship plays a substantial role here. Only one-third of self-identified Republicans had given up hope that “normal” would ever return, while a majority insisted that it already had. By contrast, 53 percent of Democratic respondents said “normal” was a thing of the past, and under one-quarter of them said the pandemic was fully behind them.
The number of Americans who say that “normal” will never return has not budged since October 2022, remaining static even as the external conditions supposedly responsible for that pessimistic outlook changed dramatically for the better. …
… Forty-two percent of self-described Democratic voters told Gallup pollsters in the last week of February that they don’t believe the situation surrounding Covid is “improving.” Thirty-six percent still worry about their risk of infection. Fifty-five percent say they self-isolate “at least a little” from non-household members, and 48 percent say they still wear facemasks outside their homes. All this among a demographic with a self-reported vaccination rate of 82 percent.
The phenomenon Gallup measured has little to do with the virus or the relative risk it presents to the public. It doesn’t seem especially correlated even to conventional politics. After all, these rank-and-file Democrats have simply disregarded the cues their party’s elected officials have been sending for months in relation to the pandemic. They have developed a fraught relationship with what they believe constituted “normal” in the before-time.