Data Wonk

How Republicans Are Killing Their Supporters

Right-wing anti-vaxxers help cause more deaths of Republicans nationally and in Wisconsin.

By - Dec 8th, 2021 02:04 pm
2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the Supreme Court reconsidering Roe v. Wade, Republicans self-identify as the party that supports a right to life. In the case of the pandemic, however, they have become the party of sickness and death. Strangely, the people they have most effectively afflicted are their own supporters.

The proposition that the Republican Party has become a death cult is supported by the chart below. It shows that the stronger a state’s Trump support in the 2020 presidential election, the higher the number of residents suffering a COVID-19 infection.

The vertical scale in the chart shows the percentage of state residents that were diagnosed with Covid between April and the end of November of this year. I chose April 2021 as the starting point because that was the month when Covid vaccines were made available to any adult who chose to get them.

The horizontal axis shows the percentage of the two-candidate vote that went to Joe Biden. Thus, the left side of the chart is made up of states that voted for Donald Trump.

Biden’s vote ranged from a low around 28% in Wyoming to highs in the mid-60%s in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland. (Alternatively, Trump got about 68% in Wyoming compared to the low 30%s in the three eastern states.) Note that Wisconsin, shown in yellow, falls almost in the exact middle of both the presidential vote and the percentage of residents who were infected.

Covid case per capita versus state partisan lean

Covid case per capita versus state partisan lean

The coefficient of determination (R2) is commonly interpreted as reflecting the amount of the variation in Covid cases that is explained by variation in the presidential vote. Thus, about half (51%) of the variation of cases reflects variation in the percentage of people voting for Biden, a strong correlation.

Clearly people voting Democratic are not born with a natural immunity to a previously unknown virus. The next graph suggests the connection. It shows the very strong connection (R2=74%) between the presidential vote and the percentage of the population who have been vaccinated. Wisconsin (the red dot) is again near the midpoint.

Percent vaccinated versus partisan lean

Percent vaccinated versus partisan lean

An average of 1.5% of Covid cases over this period led to death (1.0% in Wisconsin). The next graph plots Covid deaths versus the presidential vote.

The death rates for Wyoming and Florida translate to about one death for every 800 residents. At the other end, Vermont and several other states have around one death for every 4,000 residents.

Florida seems to be an outlier on this chart. Though states like Alabama and West Virginia had a far bigger margin for Trump than Florida, they have a lower death total from Covid. There are several possible explanations. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has been particularly hostile to efforts to bring down the Covid case load, threatening employers who try to control the pandemic.

Covid deaths per capita versus state partisan lean

Covid deaths per capita versus state partisan lean

The same pattern holds if county data are used rather than state data. The next graph plots Covid deaths rates for Wisconsin counties versus the 2020 county presidential election vote and shows that counties with a higher vote margin for Biden tend to have a lower death rate.

Two Wisconsin counties stand out on this graph. Dane county was one of the counties discussed in a recent Washington Post article entitled “The most-vaccinated big counties in America are beating the worst of the coronavirus.” Apparently, Menomonee County had no deaths from Covid, a remarkable record if true and not, say, because sick residents are sent to hospitals in other counties.

Milwaukee County seems to contradict the rule that higher Democratic votes leads to lower Covid infections and cases. Certainly, Milwaukee’s higher poverty is a contributing factor. Compared to Dane County, it appears that Milwaukee has been less assertive in driving down Covid, such as applying a mask mandate to indoor public spaces.

In Milwaukee’s defense, it is notable that its Covid death rate over this period is only slightly more than the rates for Ozaukee and Waukesha counties, its far wealthier suburbs.

Wisconsin deaths from Covid by county

Wisconsin deaths from Covid by county

The next chart shows the odds of catching Covid during the period stretching from last April to the end of November. The first pair of columns shows that the average American had a 5.1% chance of catching Covid during this period. The second pair of columns compare the chance of catching Covid depending on whether one lived in a state carried by Trump (in red) or Biden (in blue).

The third pair of columns gets more partisan still. Only counties carried by each candidate in states carried by the same candidate are counted. Finally, the last pair compares each candidate’s five best states.

Notice the pattern here. The deeper you go into Trump country, the higher your odds of catching Covid. By contrast, the odds decrease as Biden support increases. If one compares each candidate’s five best states, the odds of catching Covid in Trump land are twice those of Biden territory.

Odds of getting Covid

Odds of getting Covid

The next graph shows estimated odds of dying from Covid depending on one’s state and county. As before, the odds of dying increase as support for Trump grows and decrease with increased Biden support. If the analysis is limited to each candidate’s five best states, the odds of dying from Covid in Trump country is three times greater than in Biden territory.

Odds of dying from Covid

Odds of dying from Covid

Clearly, not being vaccinated substantially increases one’s likelihood of catching a nasty disease that can lead to a very unpleasant death. It also increases burdens on society by increasing the probability of infecting others, overburdening emergency rooms, and increasing the likelihood of new and more dangerous variants.

Utah’s Republican governor Spencer Cox has warned that right-wing anti-vaxxer rhetoric is “literally killing their supporters,” but much of today’s Republican establishment seems intent on assuring that the virus stays around. A recent email from Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire attacked Biden’s winter covid plan as “about as awful as you’d expect.” Shapiro’s website is considered among the more respectable of its type. The Daily Wire prides itself on not actually lying. Claims that the vaccine contains a microchip are left to deeper swamp creatures. Shapiro prefers the freedom argument:

Not only did Biden announce that he is extending the federal mask mandate for public transportation, but Jen Psaki admitted today that the administration is considering requiring Americans to be fully vaccinated in order to fly domestically.

You read that correctly. Psaki is actually floating the possibility that Americans will have to show their vaccine card in order to fly on a plane.

Want to visit your family for the holidays? If you’re not fully vaxxed,[sic] you may have to drive instead of flying if the COVID tyrants in Washington have their way.

This is utter madness, and it must be stopped.

Meanwhile, Republican dominated states have taken several actions favorable to the virus. Normally, people who quit their jobs or are fired for cause do not qualify for unemployment benefits. Yet, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have changed their rules to make people who quit or are fired for refusing to be vaccinated eligible for unemployment benefits, essentially reversing the more common practice of offering cash bonuses to people who get vaccinated. Likewise, several Republican states passed laws either banning vaccine mandates by employers or requiring that those mandates allow people to opt out.

I find this puzzling. Why do Shapiro, most of the other members of the Republican blogosphere, and Republican politicians like Ted Cruz fight against measures that would reduce Covid-driven sickness and death among their supporters?

Biologists doubt whether viruses should be classified as living organisms. Yet Covid has managed to accumulate a lobbying organization that would be the envy of any normal trade association.

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

Categories: Data Wonk, Health, Politics

4 thoughts on “Data Wonk: How Republicans Are Killing Their Supporters”

  1. David Coles says:

    This analysis has at least one major omission: age statistics for states/counties. Florida’s outlier status is almost certainly a result of its large elderly population.

  2. says:

    Mr. Thompson has made an astute (and devastating) observation. It is not going to change either. The Republican Party (I like the “Cult of Death Party”) has doubled and tripled down on their support of Covid being OK within the country. My only wish at this point is that non-vaccinated people should not be approved for health insurance and should be given access to hospital care. Sorry to be so uncaring.

  3. CraigR says:

    Hmm… What would Charles Darwin say? Oh right… They don’t believe in that either.

  4. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Republicans sure are onto something, keep going.

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