46% Believe Worst of Pandemic Is Still to Come; Voters Divided As To What They Fear More– Getting COVID Or More Government Restrictions

As 2021 draws to a close, just 27% of voters now believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. That’s down two points from a week ago, down seventeen since early November. and down 29 from the peak level of optimism measured in May.

A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 46% now believe the worst is yet to come.  This is the second highest level of pessimism recorded since the vaccines became available.

Despite the pessimism, just 28% of voters want to see stricter lockdowns imposed at this time. Thirty-four percent (34%) want to see restrictions eased in their area while 28% don’t think any changes are needed.

Another indication of declining public concern is that 74% of voters are close to resuming their normal life. In fact, 47% are more worried about governments imposing unnecessary restrictions and lockdowns than they are about getting COVID. A slightly smaller number of voters–43%– are more worried about getting COVID.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of who have been vaccinated are more worried about getting COVID. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of the vaccinated are more worried about government restrictions and lockdowns. Those who are not vaccinated have an entirely different set of concerns. By a 66% to 21% margin, the unvaccinated are more worried about government restrictions than getting COVID.

Additionally, 59% believe the reluctance of some vaccinated voters to re-engage in social activities is hurting the economy.  That total includes 61% of those who have already been vaccinated.

Data released earlier showed that 49% of voters believe relaxing vaccine mandates, mask requirements, and social distancing guidelines would be good for the economy. Thirty percent (30%) disagree.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters are comfortable going mask-less to a restaurant, bar, or other social setting with a large number of people. That includes 48% of the vaccinated and 64% of the unvaccinated.

Perceptions about the pandemic have varied over time. When the lockdowns first began, a majority of voters believed the pandemic would end by Memorial Day 2020.

In 2021, optimism rose as soon as the vaccines became available. By May, 56% believed the worst was behind us. However, confidence fell over the summer with the arrival of the Delta variant. By July, just 28% still believed the worst had already come and gone. Confidence began to grow again in early October before falling again in November.

Voters are clearly frustrated with both the pandemic itself and the government response to it.

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Note: Neither Scott Rasmussen, ScottRasmussen.com, nor RMG Research, Inc. have any affiliation with Rasmussen Reports. While Scott Rasmussen founded that firm, he left more than seven years ago and has had no involvement since that time.

Question 1:

Which of the following best describes your reaction to taking the COVID vaccine?

62%    I have already been vaccinated.

4%    I want to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

6%    I want to wait and see how it works before getting vaccinated.

9%    I’m in no particular rush to get vaccinated.

15%    I will never get vaccinated.

4%    Not sure

Question 2:

Is the worst of the pandemic behind us, or is it still to come?

27%    Behind us

46%    Still to come

27%    Not sure


The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted online by Scott Rasmussen on December 21-22, 2021. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Certain quotas were applied, and the sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, internet usage, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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