Polls Show the Ebola Panic Starting to Fade

Fox News and CBS find a drop in the number of people worried about Ebola in America.

Workers at Medline Industries assemble Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits to be shipped out to various health facilities at their warehouse in Mundelein, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.

Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

A new poll from CBS News finds that Americans overwhelmingly back some less-than-politically-correct ideas for preventing foreigners from Ebola-stricken nations from entering the United States. Only 14 percent–14 percent!–of people favor allowing travelers from West Africa to enter the United States unhindered if they show no signs of the disease. The Republicans who have been demanding "travel bans," which under scrutiny evolve into something like "travel bans on non-Americans, unpleasant quarantines for the nice doctors who have been in Africa," are backing a supermajority stance. As they thought.

At the same time, in a piece of good news for anyone not running against incumbent politicians, fear of an American Ebola outbreak is starting to fade. On Oct. 8, 69 percent of Americans said they were somewhat or very concerned about the disease wreaking havoc here. Today, it's 61 percent.

There's more. A Fox News poll, released Tuesday, generally found mixed emotions about the president's handling of the outbreak, and about the CDC, formerly an overwhelmingly popular government agency. But when asked if they were concerned "that the Ebola virus will spread throughout the United States," 59 percent said they were. That was the lowest result since August, and nine points down from mid-October, before Dr. Craig Spencer returned from Africa to New York and was diagnosed.

There's a little static here for conservatives. The Ebola threat had been a clean hit on President Obama. He insisted there was "little chance" of an "outbreak" in America; soon after, a Liberian man brought his disease to Dallas. He insisted further screenings would prevent more Ebola arrivistes, and then Craig Spencer went bowling. Marc Thiessen spoke for lots of conservatives when he suggested that the "administration’s mishandling of Ebola threatens to permanently cement that public perception of incompetence in the collective American mind." Mollie Hemingway suggested that the media voices chiding anyone who panicked about the Ebola chyrons on their TV screens might be "some kind of psychological trauma related to journalists’ inability to deal with the failures of the administrative state and progressive ideology."

Not as exciting to consider: What if the disease was contained? What if, as has been the case for weeks, Americans who contract Ebola are restored by first-world medical care? Would the state and progressive governance have been proven right, for all time, and must copies of Ronald Reagan's "time for choosing" speech be burned in a bonfire? No, probably not. But the bumbling state that can't get tax collection or health-care website design or ISIS-battling right will have prevented an epidemic, as Americans decide not to panic about one.

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