One more finding on employer vaccine mandates

Josh Berezin, Lead Strategist

Summary: Ted Cruz’s messaging works among Republicans, backfires among Democrats

This research was conducted in partnership with Strategic Victory Fund.


Last week, we tested how several messages performed as responses to a misinformation-laden message from Ted Cruz. Since it was the first time we tested messages on vaccine mandates, we tried a wide range of different messages, each based in values that surfaced in our Audience Understanding survey. The main finding from that test was that our “stern mom” message not only countered the Ted Cruz message among Republicans, it increased the share of Republicans who believed vaccine mandates would help the economy beyond that in the baseline group.

Following up on those findings, we wanted to dive deeper, focusing on two of the messages from the original test.

On Saturday, October 23, we conducted a Rapid Message Test where respondents were either exposed to Ted Cruz’s anti-vaccine message, our stern mom message, or a placebo message. (See full messages below.) This would allow us to explore the effect of Ted Cruz’s message on its own, as well as give us a look at our winning message as a standalone message rather than as a response to the Cruz message.


The stern mom message had similar directional effects among conservatives as in our previous test, moving conservative-leaning voters toward believing vaccine mandates would be good for the economy, though these results were smaller, and weren’t statistically significant in this standalone test.

The effects of the Ted Cruz message were quite interesting — though it had no population-wide effect on average, it was polarizing, moving Republicans and Democrats in opposite directions. Seeing the Cruz message moved Republicans’ opinions 19 points toward believing vaccine mandates would hurt the economy, and it moved Democrats’ opinions 14 points toward believing vaccine mandates would help the economy.

This bears repeat testing, but Ted Cruz’s own words might be an effective tool for persuading Democrats to simply believe the opposite of whatever he’s saying.

Full text of both messages and the outcome question are in the appendix below. If you’d like to see the full results, feel free to email us at hello (at)



Messages and outcome question

Participants either saw a placebo, or they saw one of the following messages:

Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz:

President Biden’s latest and most far-reaching COVID mandate completely ignores science. Forcibly vaccinating people who already have immunity ignores medical data and is a brazen violation of Americans’ privacy rights.

The federal government has no authority to force businesses in Texas and across the country to mandate their employees get vaccinated. American businesses are still recovering from this past year and a half. It is cruel and burdensome to impose this authoritarian mandate.

While I support the vaccine and have received it, Americans have the right to exercise personal choice when it comes to their health.

Strict mom/law and order

My mom always had clear rules: shoes off when you come in the door, no swearing, mind your manners, and treat your family and those around you with respect. Mom is no longer with us, but I can imagine what she’d say about how some folks are treating health care workers during the pandemic: throwing fits, even assaulting those who try to take care of their family members in their last days.

Rules are rules. Vaccine mandates are coming, and I expect people to follow the rules, get their shots, and act as if law and order means something again.

The Placebo

Your local Helpful Honda Dealer is here for you in these unprecedented times. We get you where you need to go, safety first.

After randomized message exposure, the test participants were then asked the following question:

Under Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic plan, businesses with at least 100 employees will soon be required to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. This rule will impact over 80 million workers in businesses with 100+ employees.

Which of the following is closer to your view?

A: Employer COVID vaccine mandates will disrupt the economy by forcing unvaccinated workers out of crucial jobs.
B: Employer COVID vaccine mandates will help get the economy back to normal by making people feel safer coming to work.

Answer Options:

  • Employer COVID vaccine mandates will definitely disrupt the economy
  • Employer COVID vaccine mandates will probably disrupt the economy
  • Employer COVID vaccine mandates will probably help the economy
  • Employer COVID vaccine mandates will definitely help the economy

Key Experiment Details

  • Audience: All adults, balanced on age, race, and gender
  • Geography: the United States
  • Sample size (raw / weighted): 605 / 605
  • Date in field: Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Weighting factors: age, race, gender, education, and party