People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. A new public opinion study suggests Canadians believe the COVID-19 crisis has brought their country together, while Americans blame the pandemic for worsening their cultural and political divide. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Pandemic has brought Canada together, pushed Americans apart, poll suggests

In Canada, 88 per cent of respondents said they approved of their country’s response to COVID-19

Canadians believe the COVID-19 crisis has brought their country together, while Americans blame the pandemic for worsening their cultural and political divide, a new international public opinion survey suggests.

Fully two-thirds of Canadian respondents to the Pew Research Center study released Thursday say they believe Canada is more united as a result of the novel coronavirus, while 77 per cent of U.S. participants feel precisely the opposite is true south of the border.

“In the U.S., where a patchwork of coronavirus-related restrictions reflects broad disagreement over the best path to economic recovery while mitigating the spread of the virus, roughly three-quarters say that the U.S. is more divided than before the coronavirus outbreak,” the centre said in a release.

“In contrast, nearly three-quarters in Denmark say there is more unity now than before the coronavirus outbreak. More than half in Canada, Sweden, South Korea and Australia also say their countries have become more united since the coronavirus outbreak.”

READ MORE: Trudeau considered best to manage pandemic, revive economy, poll suggests

A similar bilateral gap emerged when those surveyed were asked about how their respective countries responded to the emergency.

In Canada, 88 per cent of respondents said they approved of their country’s response to COVID-19, compared with just 47 per cent of Americans who feel the same way about how the U.S. has responded.

The difference of opinion in the U.S. was tied to the political affiliations of those who took part in the survey, said Kat Devlin, one of the Pew research associates who compiled the report. Of those identified as Republican, 76 per cent cheered the government response, compared with 25 per cent of Democrats.

“In a way, in the U.S., we do see these political splits among the two main political parties that may affect the overall views of the U.S. compared with in Canada.”

A separate online poll conducted over the weekend by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies asked Canadian and Americans alike which of the two countries they believed had better handled the outbreak.

Fully 87 per cent of Canadian respondents said their country’s response had been “much” or “somewhat” better than that in the U.S., while only 38 per cent of Americans agreed. Nearly as many — 37 per cent — gave the U.S. higher marks than Canada, while 25 per cent gave no answer.

READ MORE: Dr. Bonnie Henry inspired B.C. teen’s winning face mask design

The Pew survey also found a distinct link between respondents disappointed in the response to the pandemic in their country and the likelihood they felt divisions had worsened.

“In every country surveyed, those who think their country has done a bad job of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak are more likely to say that their country is now more divided.”

The disparate versions of reality in the U.S. when it comes to COVID-19 have been on clear display over the last two weeks as America’s political parties, their eyes squarely on the Nov. 3 presidential election, have used their national conventions to spin competing narratives.

Joe Biden’s Democrats have excoriated Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, accusing the president of “devastating, inexcusable management” and his operatives of lying “through their teeth” about it.

Republicans, meanwhile, insist the crisis is under control, even as the death toll — 183,000 people to date out of a world-leading six million cases — continues to rise.

Regardless of their political affiliation, Americans surveyed agreed that divisions in the U.S. have widened since the pandemic began, Devlin said.

“This is actually one question where Republicans and Democrats are somewhat united in their answers,” she said. “About three-quarters at least in both parties do feel this sense of national division here.”

The Canadian portion of the Pew study involved 1,037 respondents across the country who were surveyed by phone between June 15 and July 27, and the American section had 1,003 U.S. participants who took part between June 16 and July 14.

Both components of the survey carry a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The survey, which involved participants from 14 countries including the U.K., France, Italy, Australia, Japan and South Korea, also found a majority of respondents believe the global spread of COVID-19 could have been mitigated with stronger international co-operation. That sentiment was especially strong in Europe, which was hit hard by the virus in the earliest days of the pandemic, particularly in Italy and Spain.

READ MORE: Feds extend CERB for four more weeks, announce changes to EI system

In the U.S., where Trump has largely taken a go-it-alone approach, 58 per cent of respondents said the number of American cases could have been reduced had the country worked more closely with other countries.

Women who took part in the survey reported a disproportionate impact from the pandemic in 12 of the 14 represented countries. In Canada, 69 per cent reported that their lives had changed either a “great deal” or a “fair amount,” compared with 57 per cent of men.

“Women around the world typically do more unpaid work at home than their male counterparts, such as child care and housework, and this may be amplified by closure of schools and day care centres to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Pew reported.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has also said that more women than men around the world are employed part-time, “which is more likely to have been interrupted by the pandemic.”

James McCarten, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusPollUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Homeowner intends to dispute COVID tickets after backyard party near Grand Forks

Brody Peterson said bands that played at his home shut down before the 11 o’clock cut off

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Trail Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Opioid crisis

Seventh in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Jack Vellutini, 100, is still making sweet music. Photo: Submitted
Music stirs memories as Trail serenader nears 101st birthday

Jack Vellutini gave his brass instruments to Trail up-and-comers so the legacy of music can live on

BC ELECTION
B.C. political leaders reflect on rural health care as election looms

NDP leader John Horgan, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson talk health care priorities in the Kootenays

Most Read