A new survey release by Gallup shows that Americans’ faith in the government to handle Ebola has dropped substantially in the past two weeks.
Confidence in the government response dropped from 61% when Gallup first asked the question on October 5th down to 52 percent two weeks later. On October 12th the same question was at 60 percent, meaning nearly all of the decline happened in the past week. There is a clear partisan divide in the results, with Democrats much more confident (71%) in the government’s response than Republicans (37%).
Despite the drop in confidence, most Americans do not seem to be panicking. Only 20% of respondents believe Ebola will become a crisis or major epidemic in the U.S., up just two points from two weeks ago. That seems to track with the 24% of respondents who say they are personally worried about getting Ebola. Gallup notes that this is similar to the results for people who worried about catching the H1N1 virus back in 2009.
The majority of Americans (65%) believe there will be a “minor outbreak.” Roughly 10% say Ebola will not hit the U.S. at all.
Last week President Obama appointed Ron Klain as Ebola Czar to help coordinate the government response. Critics noted that Klain is a longtime political operative with no medical background. Some observers suggested the appointment was an indication that the President sees Ebola as more of a PR problem than a medical problem. The Gallup results suggest the White House may be right to be worried about public perception of its efforts thus far.