Scientists, presidents, and pandemics—comparing the science–politics nexus during the Zika virus and COVID-19 outbreaks
We investigate how beliefs about scientists and presidents affect views about two pandemics, Zika virus (2016) and COVID-19 (2020).
Three New Hampshire surveys in 2016 and 2020 provide data to test how beliefs about scientists’ practices and presidential approval relate to pandemic views.
Support for presidents consistently predicts perceptions of scientists’ integrity and trust in science agencies for information, but the directionality changes from 2016 to 2020—increased trust among Obama-supporters; decreased trust among Trump-supporters. Respondents who believe scientists lack objectivity are also less likely to trust science agencies during both Zika and COVID-19 and are less apt to be confident in the government's response in 2016. Assessments of pandemic responses become increasingly political during 2020; most notably, support for President Trump strongly predicts confidence in the government's efforts.
Results highlight how beliefs about scientists’ practices and presidents are central to the science–politics nexus during pandemics.
Social Science Quarterly
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Safford, Thomas G.; Whitmore, Emily H.; and Hamilton, Lawrence C., "Scientists, presidents, and pandemics—comparing the science–politics nexus during the Zika virus and COVID-19 outbreaks" (2021). Social Science Quarterly. 1239.