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Wednesday | 24 February, 2021

Who thinks Georgia handled the pandemic successfully?

[Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of OC Media and CRRC Georgia. The article was written by Givi Silagadze, a researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article reflect the author's alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]


Prior to the most recent episode in Georgia's political crises, COVID-19 was the country's main concern. Yet, data on how the public views the country's handling of the crisis shows a stark partisan divide.


It has been a year since the first case of coronavirus was detected in Georgia. Since then, over 260,000 cases have been confirmed, over 3,300 fatalities, and the economy has suffered the largest decline since 1994. In light of this, how does the Georgian public assess the country’s handling of the pandemic? 


Data from the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey offers a snapshot of how well people think the country did in dealing with the outbreak. 


The data suggests that there are few differences between demographic groups, but that political division is evident in evaluations of the country’s performance.


A slight majority (56%) reported that Georgia had done a somewhat good job (45%) or a good job (11%); 38% said it had done a bad job.


People’s assessments were associated with several social and demographic variables. 


People with a higher education were 8 percentage points less likely to praise the country’s response than those with a lower level of education. 


People aged 35–55 were 10 percentage points less likely to report that Georgia had done well than younger people (aged 18–35).


Other socio-demographic variables, including IDP status, ethnicity, employment situation, settlement type, sex, wealth, or whether or not someone had tested positive for COVID-19, did not appear to be associated with how well someone rated the country’s performance.


While there were relatively few differences between social and demographic groups, there was a stark partisan divide. 


Georgian Dream supporters were 45 percentage points more likely to report that Georgia had done a somewhat good job or a good job in dealing with the outbreak than supporters of other opposition parties, after controlling for other factors. 


Similarly, Georgian Dream supporters were 27 percentage points more likely to give a positive assessment than those who supported no party in particular.


People who experienced economic hurdles in parallel with the outbreak also assessed the country’s performance differently. 


Those who lost a job in 2020, or had a family/household member lose a job during the past year were significantly (18 percentage points) less likely to evaluate Georgia’s handling of the outbreak positively.


The loss of a job and partisanship also interacted in interesting ways. 


Georgian Dream supporters and those with no clear political preference were significantly less likely to assess the government’s response positively if they or a family member had lost a job.


In contrast, for supporters of opposition parties, there was no significant difference between those who had or had not lost a job in the past 12 months.


All else equal, the data suggests that party identification is strongly associated with people’s assessment of the country’s handling of the outbreak. 


It is impossible to determine with the data at hand if party identification drives the differing assessments of the government’s performance or vice versa. 


In either case, it reaffirms what previous studies have suggested about the political polarization of the Georgian electorate being reflected through divergent assessments of past events and institutions rather than opposing policy alternatives or ideological views. 


This, once again, underscores the necessity of responsible political leadership that would unite rather than divide the nation during crises.


Note: The above data analysis is based on a logistic regression model which included the following variables: age group (18–35, 35–55, 55+), sex (male or female), education (completed secondary/lower or incomplete higher education/higher), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), wealth (an additive index of ownership of 12 different items), did anyone in the household lose a job in the past 12 months, party support (Georgian Dream, refuse to answer, no party/do not know, other parties), did they test positive for COVID-19, ethnic group (ethnic Georgian or other ethnic group), employment situation (working or not), IDP status (forced to move due to conflicts since 1989 or not). The analysis was run with and without attitudinal variables, with substantively similar results. The estimates in this article present the results of the model with attitudinal variables. The data used in the article is available here.

 
04.08.2008 | Monday

Georgia: Women's Participation in Politics

Women’s participation at all levels of elections in Georgia is diminishing. As the Caucasus Women’s Network (CWN)reports, women inGeorgia were less represented in terms of candidates in the last parliamentary elections than in any previous parliamentary elections inGeorgia’s democratic history. On the other hand, women’s low political participation in elected bodies belies women’s activeness in civil society institutions, where females appear to be very active.
05.03.2018 | Monday

Partisanship and Trust in TV in Georgia

One of the outcomes of the stark polarization of news media sources globally is that people tend to align to the media outlets which resonate most with their ideological beliefs. In most cases, consumption of a particular ideological media source can only reinforce one’s beliefs, which might lead to an even further polarization of the audience. These patterns can be characteristic of mass media in contexts as different as, for instance, the United States and Lebanon. As the data from the December 2017 wave of CRRC/NDI survey shows, people in Georgia also appear to be selective in trusting media that aligns with their political beliefs as well.
26.08.2019 | Monday

Attitudes toward politicians are related to evaluations of institutional performance

How citizens evaluate the performance of the state is often a reasonable proxy for its performance. In Georgia, evaluations of public institutions are mixed. While a number of social and demographic variables are associated with people’s perceptions of state performance, so too are people’s attitudes towards political parties and politicians. This shows once again how politics is personalized in Georgia.
11.11.2019 | Monday

Government employees assess the work of the government better than the general public

The outlook in Georgia continues to be increasingly pessimistic, with more people reporting that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, performance assessments of government institutions have been on the decline in recent years. As recent CRRC analyses have highlighted, party identification, attitudes towards individual politicians, ethnicity, and Georgian language proficiency among ethnic minorities are associated with attitudes towards government. Analysis of the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey suggests that working for the state is also associated with performance assessments. However, government employees in poor households and those in Tbilisi rate government performance significantly worse.
27.01.2020 | Monday

In a sea of pessimism, who is optimistic about Georgia?

The CRRC and NDI survey released two weeks ago showed a pessimistic picture – half the public thinks Georgia is going in the wrong direction, 24% that nothing is changing, and only 19% think it is going in the right direction. A majority (59%) think the country is not a democracy for the first time since the question was asked on the survey in 2010. Moreover, performance assessments of government, parliament, the courts, and most ministries declined.
27.07.2020 | Monday

Analysis | Georgia has a vaccine misinformation problem

Many experts believe that to fully remove the restrictions which have emerged because of the COVID-19 crisis, a vaccine is needed. While vaccines are only expected in the medium term, if and when they are available, Georgia may face large challenges with implementing a large scale vaccination program. 

17.08.2020 | Monday

Support for democracy increased in Georgia during COVID-19, but what does that mean?

The COVID-19 outbreak generated discussion about whether support for democracy would decline during and after the crisis. While reported support increased, this did not necessarily match support for democratic means of governance.

Data from the CRRC’s COVID-19 monitor shows that more people in Georgia reported support for democracy compared to the pre-crisis period. However, as before the crisis, support for democracy does not seem to be grounded in the values commonly associated with democratic governance.

08.09.2020 | Tuesday

Lockdown vs re-opening the economy in Georgia

As the number of new daily confirmed cases is again on the rise, we look at how people felt about the anti-coronavirus restrictions in May.

Aside from the public health situation, COVID-19 has led to rising unemploymentreduced incomes, and food insecurity in Georgia. As the number of new daily confirmed cases is again on the rise, the Caucasus Datablog takes a look at how people felt about the anti-coronavirus restrictions when they were at their height.

06.10.2020 | Tuesday

Is Georgia really polarised?

Talk about political polarisation in Georgia is easy to find. Some have suggested that the recent United National Movement (UNM) announcement that Saakashvili will be their prime ministerial candidate will only make matters worse.

new data analysis CRRC Georgia released on Tuesday suggests that this may in fact be the case. Data from several years of CRRC Georgia and NDI polling indicates that there are few ideological or policy issues that the supporters of Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM) disagree about. Rather, attitudes towards politicians and political events are what divides, a fact the public intuitively recognises.

12.10.2020 | Monday

A Rapid Gender Assessment of the Covid-19 Situation in Georgia

Last month, UN Women released the results of a Rapid Gender Assessment of Covid-19. CRRC Georgia conducted the research, which was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Joint SDG Fund. The project was part of a broader UN Women impact assessment initiative. The study that was conducted in mid to late May, looks at how the Covid-19 outbreak affected livelihoods, domestic and care work, and the mental and physical health of women and men in Georgia. The study also provides a glimpse of how women and girls with disabilities reflected on changes the Covid-19 pandemic instigated.
20.10.2020 | Tuesday

Half of Georgians believe COVID-19 is man-made

As COVID-19 spread across the world, it was followed by a hurricane of (mis)information about the origins and nature of the virus. The novelty and scope of the virus gave birth to many conspiracy theories, but which of those took root in Georgia?

An NDI and CRRC survey conducted in June 2020 asked questions about people’s beliefs about the origins and spread of coronavirus. The data suggest that while a majority of the population does not believe in common disinformation messages such as a relation between 5G technology and the spread of the coronavirus, only a small portion thinks that coronavirus came about naturally. 
08.12.2020 | Tuesday

Georgian voters: personalities, policies, or a bit of both?

While personality in politics matters greatly for the Georgian public, data from this year shows that for Georgian Dream and United National Movement voters, policy is still important. 


A recent 
CRRC Georgia policy brief argued that what was really dividing Georgians politically was personalities rather than policies. Data from the August 2020 CRRC and NDI survey provides further evidence for this idea. 


However, the data also shows a difference between Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) voters in terms of policy preferences and that economic policy is the most important issue for a plurality of voters. 

22.12.2020 | Tuesday

Political campaigning in Georgia: informing or mobilising?

Political campaigning takes a wide range of forms, from digital advertising to door knocking. Generally, campaigning is believed to both mobilise voters to actually go out to vote as well as win over voters, but which is most relevant in Georgia?


Data from the 
August CRRC Georgia and NDI public opinion poll indicate that people who wanted to be contacted by campaigners also appeared more partisan than others. This may suggest that campaigning in Georgia will be more effective at turning out partisans than persuading the undecided. 

09.02.2021 | Tuesday

Do people have enough information about COVID-19 in Georgia?

Since the pandemic hit Georgia in February, the Georgian government has taken several measures to raise awareness about it. But are the public actually well informed?

Since March 2020, the Georgian Government has been conducting large scale information campaigns through traditional and online media, has launched an informational web portal, StopCov.ge, and has even launched a smartphone app providing information about contact with infected people.

30.03.2021 | Tuesday

Georgia among worst in the world for vaccine hesitancy

Scientists agree that global mass immunisation against COVID-19 is the only pathway to putting the virus under control. Yet, the World Health Organisation has argued that actually getting people to take vaccines is ‘an unprecedented challenge’, which might undermine mass immunisation efforts. 
 
New data suggests that the Georgian public is among the least interested in getting a vaccine globally, given available data.