Politics

Poll: 67 Percent Want Ebola Travel Ban

Neil Munro White House Correspondent

The public’s support for an Ebola travel ban is growing fast, prompting more Republican and Democratic politicians to demand a White House policy reversal.

Sixty seven percent of Americans said they would favor “restricting entry to the United States by people who’ve been in affected countries,” according to a new poll by The Washington Post and the ABC News.

Only 29 percent opposed the travel curbs on people arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where 4,000 people have already died from the lethal and invasive disease.

That attitude is spurring politicians to challenge President Barack Obama’s repeated opposition to any restrictions on the entry of apparently healthy Africans who may carry the disease.

Obama’s progressive-style opposition to the travel ban may become a problem for Democrats during the remaining three weeks of the 2014 campaign, especially if more Americans are infected with the deadly disease.

Democrat Sen. Mark Warner told Virginia voters Oct. 13 that like some countries in Europe have already done, the U.S. should consider restrictions on some African countries, “particularly with a nation like Liberia, where Ebola has spread so widely,” according to a report by the Richmond Times Dispatch.

His rival, establishment Republican veteran Ed Gillespie, demanded stronger action: “It’s time to impose a flight ban in that regard and that’s what this administration should do,” said Gillespie, who is roughly 10 points behind Warner.

A travel ban could take many forms. For example, it could exclude foreign citizens from disease-stricken countries until they demonstrate that they are free of the communicable disease.

On Sept. 20, a Liberian arrived in the United States carrying the disease, and passed undisturbed by border officers. The Liberian died Oct. 9 in Dallas, but passed the disease to an American nurse, despite repeated reassurances from Obama’s deputies at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An Oct. 7 poll of 1,010 adults by MSNBC showed that 58 percent of Americans want a travel ban on visitors from Ebola-ravaged countries. Only 20 percent opposed the entry ban, according to the poll.

Ninety-one percent of adults in the new poll said they want “stricter screening of people entering the United States who have been in African countries affected by the outbreak.”

The poll was taken before the public learned that an American nurse caught the deadly disease from a Liberian traveller to Dallas.

Overall, public opinion is leaning against President Barack Obama’s handling of the plague. He gets 19 percent approval and 30 percent disapproval, according to the new Oct 9 through Oct. 12 poll of 1,006 adults.

The U.S. government has awarded roughly 13,500 visas to people in the three afflicted countries. Each year, roughly 190,000 people from the 16 countries experiencing the outbreak visit the United States, and roughly 40,000 people form the region are given green cards.

Concern about Ebola is highest among lower-income Americans, and least among higher-income, better educated Americans.

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