As to whether liberals or conservatives are now more likely to be opposed to vaccination, some researchers have suggested that, while anti-vaccination beliefs have spread to libertarians on the right, the anti-vaccination movement originates and finds its strongest support in the political left. A later article by the same researchers similarly argues that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evidence shows that states that voted for Obama in 2012 have higher rates of nonmedical vaccination exemptions.
Yet, other research suggests that it is in fact conservatives who are more likely to believe that vaccines cause autism, that it is liberals who are more likely to endorse pro-vaccination statements and that the more strongly someone identifies with the Republican Party, the more likely he or she is to have a negative opinion of vaccination.
The Pew Research Center has conducted two surveys that asked about vaccination. One survey in early 2015 asked respondents about whether they thought vaccines were safe, and another survey in late 2014 asked respondents about U.S. vaccination policy and whether vaccination for children should be required or a parent’s choice.
When relating the answers to these questions in the Pew surveys to people’s political views, I find an interesting divergence. The more conservative and also the more liberal someone is, the more likely he or she is to believe that vaccination is unsafe.
Yet only those who are very conservative are more likely to believe that vaccination should be a parent’s choice. This suggests the social dynamics that shape Americans’ personal beliefs about vaccine safety are not the same as the social dynamics that shape their views about whether parents can decide not to vaccinate their children.