It only took a global pandemic and two years of overbearing restrictions, but Democrats have finally learned how to read the polls. 

By this week, only one state will still have an indoor mask mandate. Every other Democratic official besides Hawaii Gov. David Ige has decided to drop remaining COVID-19 restrictions and mandates in most indoor places except for public schools, long-term care facilities, and healthcare centers. 

The reason is obvious: the political cost of enforcing COVID-19 regulations has finally started to outweigh the benefit of exerting an enormous amount of power over citizens’ everyday lives. 

Polling data from the Democratic Party’s congressional campaign arm, for example, revealed independent voters have swung sharply against Democrats because of their handling of the pandemic. In competitive congressional districts, more than 57% of all voters and 66% of self-defined “swing” voters agreed with the statement, “Democrats in Congress have taken things too far in their pandemic response.”

The demographic breakdown of the poll is equally as troubling for Democrats: 59% of Hispanic voters said they disapproved of Democrats’ pandemic response, along with 42% of black voters and 46% of Asian voters.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s conclusion? Democrats need to change their messaging on COVID-19 or risk a wipe-out during the 2022 midterm elections. 

So that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. Washington, D.C. dropped its vaccine mandate, which required all patrons of indoor gyms, restaurants, and other venues to show proof of vaccination, after just one month; New York and California tossed their statewide indoor mask mandates; New Jersey agreed to make masks optional in schools — all in the span of about one week. 

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed to relax its masking guidance last week, announcing it will now take into consideration hospitalization rates and infirmary capacities instead of just positive case numbers. This is a significant reversal: Under the CDC’s past guidance, nearly 99% of the population lived in counties where it was recommended that they wear masks while indoors. These new metrics, however, bring down that number to 28%.

The Democrats in charge have claimed “the science” changed and made an easing of pandemic restrictions possible. Yes, omicron cases have become much more manageable in most parts of the country. But the science behind mask and vaccine mandates has not changed one bit. In fact, data have consistently shown that masks — specifically the cloth masks the CDC pushed on the public — are ineffective at stopping the spread of the virus, and that the COVID-19 vaccines are likewise ill-equipped to stop transmission of the virus, though they do reduce hospitalization and death significantly. 

The only science that has changed over the past several months is political. Voters are beginning to revolt against heavy-handed restrictions, so Democrats, in an attempt to save themselves at the polls, are finally starting to listen. But unfortunately for the Democratic Party, they might very well be too late.