A majority of Americans say the United States is ready for a possible outbreak of the Ebola virus, but only about one in ten say the country is “very prepared,” according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The new poll shows that 56 percent of Americans say that the nation is prepared for an outbreak, while 42 percent disagree – including 20 percent who say that the U.S. is not prepared “at all.”
Confidence in the country’s ability to manage Ebola also varies by party. Sixty-one percent of Democrats believe the U.S. is prepared, while only 54 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans say the same. Majorities of rural voters (54 percent) and Tea Party supporters (57 percent) believe the U.S. isn’t prepared. Those with a college degree (57 percent) or post graduate degree (67 percent) have more confidence in the country’s readiness than those with a high school education or less (52 percent.)
Despite some skepticism of the country’s handling of the disease, Americans report generally positive feelings about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency most directly handling the nation’s Ebola response. Forty-nine percent say they have a positive view of the CDC, while just 22 percent say they view it negatively.
The findings come amid high interest in the story. A whopping 97 percent of respondents told pollsters that they’d seen, heard, or read about the treatment and death of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease in a Dallas hospital last week. And 98 percent said the same of the spread of the disease in West Africa. Those are the top two most recognized news stories during President Barack Obama’s tenure in office, even more widely known than the ISIS beheadings of Western journalists (94 percent) and the Travon Martin shooting (91 percent).
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 8-12 of 1,000 registered voters – including 350 cell phone-only respondents and another 41 who were reached on a cell phone but who also have a landline – and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.