In an interview with New Hampshire Journal’s Damien Fisher, a leader in New Hampshire’s anti-vaccine mandate movement insists that she and her fellow protesters speak for the people.
“We aren’t some fringe group,” said Kelley Potenza. “We are the majority.”
Spend enough time on Twitter and Facebook and it probably feels that way. Social media use amplifies prejudice by bringing users into contact again and again with like-minded people. But do opponents of the COVID-19 vaccine — or those with the more nuanced “I support the vaccine but oppose the mandate” position — really represent a silent majority in New Hampshire, or in America?
No. Not even close. And the numbers prove it.
Not the poll numbers, though they aren’t great either. Polls have consistently shown that, as much as libertarian-leaning Republicans might hate it, Americans have been urging more aggressive government action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, not less. Mask mandates, lockdowns, and now vaccine requirements have all polled well.
A solid 60 percent of U.S. residents support government-mandated COVID-19 workplace vaccinations in a new poll. In New Hampshire, UNH’s Granite State Survey found Granite Staters fairly evenly split, 48 to 45 percent, on business-imposed vaccine mandates.
Critics of the vaccine, mandates or both will say poll numbers aren’t reliable and that attitudes can shift quickly. That may be true.
But there is one number vaccine resisters can’t avoid: 77.
As in, “77 percent of Granite State adults have been vaccinated.”
There are few 77 percent issues in American politics, but being pro-vaccine is one of them. Not because the polls say so, but because voter behavior does.
Want to know what Americans really think of the vaccine? Don’t ask them to tell you. Ask them “Did you get the shot?” In New Hampshire, about 8 out of 10 people in the voting-age population will answer “yes.”
Yes, some of those 77 percent no doubt oppose vaccine mandates and other government action. But it’s also true that thousands of the unvaccinated support mandates. They just haven’t gotten around to getting their shots yet. So the numbers likely net out.
But either way, New Hampshire’s overwhelming “got the vax” numbers show where the state’s voters really are. They aren’t worrying about microscopic squid in the vaccine solution or how the “Big Pharma poison” interacts with the mind-control 5G system. They’re getting the shot and trying to get back to work.
And those numbers are only going to go up. Nobody is going to get “un-vaccinated.”
Perhaps the folks at ReBuildNH believe their numbers will improve as more people die from the vaccine — a myth the organization’s leadership has been pushing hard. Claims that the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) shows tens of thousands of Americans have been killed by the vaccine are fact-free nonsense, being spread by the ReBuild group and its allies.
Which is why their claims of “we’re not anti-vax, just anti-mandate” ring so hollow. Falsely telling people not to get a vaccine because there’s a significant chance of death (there’s not) isn’t an attack on mandates. It’s an attack on the vaccine itself.
Comments like, “I’ll take a lead injection before I take this vaccine injection,” from ReBuildNH leader Andrew Manuse add to the message: The vaccine is the problem.
Unfortunately for these activists, New Hampshire voters don’t agree. About 80 percent of them are with Chris Sununu on this. They think you are the problem.
The question now is how Granite State voters view the GOP. Sununu is struggling mightily to separate anti-vaccination extremism from the Republican brand. Republicans like state Rep. Ken Weyler, Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler, and state Rep. Melissa Blasek are working even harder to wrap the issue around the GOP’s neck. And if you truly believe “we are the majority” — why not?
Once again, if you spend your time on Twitter or Facebook, you might be tempted to think the math is on your side. It’s similar to where progressives found themselves in the weeks after the George Floyd murder. Widespread outrage over the gruesome killing led millions of Americans to say they supported the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Some activists took that as a sign the voters were on board with specific progressive policies advocated by extremists in the movement, like defunding police departments.
They were wrong.
The “Defund the Police” moment felt very real — the New Hampshire ACLU publicly announced its support — but it wasn’t. Americans have made it overwhelmingly clear they are concerned about how Black people are treated by the police. They have genuine sympathy for people of color who’ve been wrongly arrested, or abused by a cop. They are open to policing reforms.
But they don’t want fewer cops. They want more.
The same with the vaccine and those who don’t want to take it. People still have an ingrained opposition to the government forcing people to do things against their will. They respect people of faith who have sincere reasons to reject the jab. They don’t want
But while they may not like mandates, they love the vaccine. And Sununu is on their side.
Sununu had a rough day Wednesday. Losing a vote is a loss — period. But the impact of that vote will soon fade, while his willingness to take on the anti-vaccination insanity will linger.