Republicans were more concerned about Ebola than they’ve been about coronavirus. Here’s why.
Back then, Trump repeatedly played up fears of Ebola to attack President Barack Obama. His many tweets included incorrect claims that “Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting” and that a “single Ebola carrier infects 2 others at a minimum.”Republicans in Congress also exploited Ebola fears during the 2014 midterm election campaign. Political scientist Lindsey Cormack’s November 2014 The Monkey Cage analysis showed congressional Republicans mentioned Ebola much more than their Democratic counterparts did in the two months before the midterms — but stopped talking about it immediately after the election.The Ebola threat was, of course, enormously overstated. PolitiFact even named “exaggerations about Ebola” its 2014 Lie of the Year. The disease is far easier to contain than the coronavirus because it’s transmitted only through direct contact with symptomatic carriers’ bodily fluids. This is unlike covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Consequently, just four people in 2014 were infected with Ebola in the United States.Nevertheless, everything we know about public opinion tells us that prominent Republicans’ differing partisan messages about those two viruses’ respective threats should have profoundly affected Americans’ concerns about each. And they certainly did.Partisan opinions about Ebola and