More than half of American voters think President Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine rules set a precedent that could be “abused” by future presidents, a conservative group and its pollsters said Monday.
The Convention of States Action said 55.5% think the rules, which require the federal workforce and 17 million health workers to get vaccinated and 80 million workers in private business to get vaccinated or face weekly testing, would set a poor precedent.
Roughly three in 10 said it wouldn’t set a dangerous precedent and just shy of 15% aren’t sure.
The convention, working with The Trafalgar Group polling company, said 58% of independents are worried about the precedent, along with nearly 80% of Republicans and more than 30% of Democrats.
“The numbers are clear, the American people passionately oppose Biden’s vaccine mandate, and will not tolerate a president elected by the people acting like a dictator or king,” said Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action.
Mr. Biden wants the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to write rules that require private businesses with 100 workers or more to impose vaccine requirements or a weekly testing system for those who refuse.
He said the majority of Americans who are vaccinated are tired of waiting for holdouts to get immunized and put the pandemic on a more manageable trajectory.
Many holdouts say they are worried about potential side effects from the shots, which were approved in record time under former President Trump and viewed in both administrations as the best hope to wrangle the virus.
OSHA still needs to fill in the lines of how it would work, but the decision sparked an outcry from Republican governors who see it as federal overreach.
The convention said 56% of American voters support governors who are opposing Mr. Biden’s effort.
Experts say OSHA generally has the power to ensure a safe workplace, but it is unclear how the courts would look at a sweeping vaccine-or-test mandate.
Nearly 59% of American voters do not think that Mr. Biden has the constitutional authority to force private employers to mandate the shots.
The poll of over 1,000 likely general-election voters was conducted from Friday to Sunday — right after Mr. Biden described his plan Thursday — and has a margin of error of nearly 3 percentage points.
A CNN poll, meanwhile, found that Americans are split over whether it is appropriate to use mandates to increase vaccine uptake, with 51% in support and 49% against it.
Support increases when pollsters describe specific situations. For instance, requiring workers to be vaccinated before returning to the workplace (54%); students who go to in-person classes (55%); and fans attending sporting events or concerts (55%).
However, fewer respondents (41%) back a vaccine requirement for entering a grocery store.
Tough vaccine requirements in New York City and elsewhere generally steer clear of places such as grocery stores, which offer essential supplies. Instead, they focus on venues that are seen as life’s extra pleasures, like performance halls or restaurants.
The CNN poll, released Monday, was taken in August and September before Mr. Biden released his plan.
It showed support for vaccine mandates growing compared to a similar poll in April.