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Saturday, March 5, 2022

Political Geography of COVID

Bradley Jones at Pew:
During the fourth wave of the pandemic, death rates in the most pro-Trump counties were about four times what they were in the most pro-Biden counties. When the highly transmissible omicron variant began to spread in the U.S. in late 2021, these differences narrowed substantially. However, death rates in the most pro-Trump counties were still about 180% of what they were in the most pro-Biden counties throughout late 2021 and early 2022.

The cumulative impact of these divergent death rates is a wide difference in total deaths from COVID-19 between the most pro-Trump and most pro-Biden parts of the country. Since the pandemic began, counties representing the 20% of the population where Trump ran up his highest margins in 2020 have experienced nearly 70,000 more deaths from COVID-19 than have the counties representing the 20% of population where Biden performed best. Overall, the COVID-19 death rate in all counties Trump won in 2020 is substantially higher than it is in counties Biden won (as of the end of February 2022, 326 per 100,000 in Trump counties and 258 per 100,000 in Biden counties).

Partisan differences in COVID-19 death rates expanded dramatically after the availability of vaccines increased. Unvaccinated people are at far higher risk of death and hospitalization from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and vaccination decisions are strongly associated with partisanship. Among the large majority of counties for which reliable vaccination data exists, counties that supported Trump at higher margins have substantially lower vaccination rates than those that supported Biden at higher margins.