Vaccinations Are The New Political Wedge Issue

Vaccinations have become a political wedge issue and may have opened up a new front in the GOP culture wars. 

The science of vaccinations is straightforward: Public health officials point to extensive research showing vaccines protect the common good. But the politics are far less clear, as comments from likely 2016 GOP hopefuls like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and other Republicans have laid bare.

These politicians have a significant amount of public support on their side. According to a poll released last week by Pew Research Center, a substantial chunk of Americans — 30% — say parents should be able to decide whether or not to vaccinate their kids. Meanwhile, just 68% said the vaccinations of children should be required. The same poll found an ideological split, with 34% of Republicans and 33% of independents saying parents should be able to make the choice, versus 22% of Democrats.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell suggested it’s an issue many Republicans hope will go away before the 2016 presidential contest gets fully underway. 

“You have everything to lose and nothing to gain,” O’Connell. “You really don’t need to say much of anything until the campaign really begins unless it’s issues on the national conscious — like ISIS, energy or the economy. Outside those three, you’re better off saving your thoughts,” said O’Connell.

Read more from Aliyah Frumin at MSNBC.com

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Analysis & Political Strategy