More than 176,000 in US have died of COVID-19; 57% of Republicans polled say that is 'acceptable'

Americans view the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and the effectiveness of the government's response through a very partisan lens, a CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday found. 

More than 176,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. According to the poll, a 57% majority of registered Republican voters consider that number "acceptable" when "evaluating the U.S. efforts against the coronavirus pandemic," compared with 31% of voters overall. Ninety percent of Democrats and 67% of independents said the death toll was "unacceptable." 

Republicans were also more likely to believe the official death toll is inflated – though public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said the actual number of deaths from the virus is likely higher. Forty percent of registered Republicans believe the number of deaths is lower than reported, while 18% said it was probably about right and another 18% said the actual number of deaths was likely higher than reported. Overall, 44% of voters said the number of deaths was actually higher, 36% said it was lower and 20% said the reported number is likely correct. 

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When asked their opinion of how President Donald Trump has managed the response to the pandemic, 42% of overall voters said Trump has done a good job. Among Republicans, the number saying the president has done a good job jumped to 86%, while 92% of Democrats said he has performed badly. Forty-four percent of independents said the president has done a good job with the outbreak and 56% said he hasn't. 

When asked about the survey Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation," and why there was such a discrepancy between how Republicans other voters view the pandemic, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said it was "a really unfair poll." 

"Republicans do not want to see people suffering from this pandemic. We have all been affected by this. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue," McDaniel said. 

In the presidential race, 52% of likely voters said they would vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden and 42% said they would vote to reelect Trump. 

Those voters indicated little was likely to change their position between now and Nov. 3. 

Among likely voters, 86% described their support for their respective candidate as "very strong" – indicating their mind was made up – while another 12% said it was "strong" – meaning they "probably won't change" their mind. Two percent said they "might still change" their support and 0% said they would "probably change at some point." 

Trump's supporters were much more enthusiastic about him as a candidate than Biden's, with 71% of Trump's voters saying they back the president because they like him, and 21% saying they mostly planned to vote for him because they oppose Biden. In contrast, 38% of Biden's supporters said they planned to vote for him because they like him, while 42% said they plan to vote for him because they oppose Trump. 

White House adviser Jared Kushner said Sunday on CNN that "because of the pandemic, a lot of the country has been distracted." He said the Democratic and Republican conventions are the "real kickoff" of the campaign and that Trump will win over voters as he presents "real solutions for how he brings our country back and makes it stronger than ever before." 

So, we feel really good about where we are," Kushner said. "Again, the media misjudged the president's chance of winning last time. A lot of the public polling misjudged the president's chances last time. We feel like we're in a substantially better position now than we were four years ago." 

The poll was conducted from Aug. 20-22 from among 2,226 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. 

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