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Poll shows most South Dakotans don't want to punish or reward unvaccinated people


This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

The fight against COVID in South Dakota Communities is ongoing. But early messaging about mitigation continues to polarize South Dakotans along political parties.

David Wiltse, Ph.D., is an associate professor of political science at South Dakota State University and the director of the SDSU Poll. He joined In the Moment with insight into the latest poll results.

Key takeaways:

On mitigation

  • Vaccination and mask-wearing are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID, according to registered Democrats.
  • Washing hands and avoiding groups are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID, according to registered Republicans.
  • Data analysis suggests the division is connected to messaging. Masks and vaccines have been condemned or questioned in national Republican circles. Additionally, handwashing was discussed early and often before much was known about the virus.     

Should South Dakotans be rewarded (or penalized) for their vaccine choices?

  • Providing incentives or penalties for COVID vaccinations is unpopular across the South Dakota electorate.
  • Measurable, but minimal, support for incentives comes from Democrats who support restricting travel. Some Democrats also support insurance premium adjustments based on vaccine status.
  • Registered Republicans and Independents are generally opposed to rewarding vaccination or penalizing vaccine hesitancy.