Americans are very aware of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the few cases in the U.S., and a pretty narrow majority believe the U.S. is ready to handle Ebola, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Fifty-six percent of respondents said the U.S. is somewhat or very prepared for an Ebola outbreak, versus 44 percent who said the nation isn't prepared well enough, including 20 percent who agreed the U.S. is not prepared "at all."
There were partisan differences: 61 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of independents, and 52 percent of Republicans said the U.S. is prepared for an outbreak, while 57 percent of Tea Party supporters said the U.S. is not prepared. People with more education had more confidence, and rural respondents had less. A plurality of respondents, 49 percent, had positive feelings about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead agency handling Ebola in the U.S., versus 22 percent who expressed negative views of the CDC.
The most surprising finding was that practically every respondent knew about the West Africa outbreak (98 percent) and the case of Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease in Dallas (97 percent). "Those are the top two most recognized news stories during President Barack Obama's tenure in office," NBC News says, "even more widely known than the ISIS beheadings of Western journalists (94 percent) and the Travon Martin shooting (91 percent)." The poll was conducted Oct. 8-12.