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Saturday, September 04, 2021

Political Consequences from COVID-19 Partisanship?

The COVID-19 virus is not partisan, of course, but partisanship is influencing rates of vaccination, masking, and even social distancing. Democrats are far more likely to be vaccinated and claim to practice masking and social distancing in far greater numbers.

Here's the latest data I could find on the vaccine rates from the August 2021 KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor. Note the top-line portion of vaccinated Democrats and compare that number to the line second from the bottom:

There are similar poll results for masking and social distancing. 

The data has shown for months now that most of the people hospitalized with the virus, and dying from it, are unvaccinated. These are overwhelming numbers actually, 97% of all hospital visits and deaths according to Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator. He gets his data from the CDC, presumably

Armed with knowledge of the partisan rate of vaccine acceptance along with CDC data on COVID-19 death rates, astrophysicist and celebrity science personality Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted the following on August 31: 

I have no idea if that is accurate, but this is how Tyson arrived at the number:

And because twitter did what twitter does, Tyson soon deleted the original tweet:

In any case, imagine for a moment that Tyson is correct. That means Republicans are losing about 6000 net voters every 10 days -- and that is mostly in red counties (which have much lower vaccination rates) according to this health-care blogger who uses county-level data from Johns Hopkins (omitting Nebraska and Florida because they are not reporting this data):

 new COVID-19 case rates are now running more than 68% higher in Red counties than in Blue counties, while new COVID-19 death rates are now running nearly 2.2x higher in Red counties.

This chart from the same blogger (and Center for American Progress contractor) also seems helpful:

If Tyson is correct and the 6000 per 10 day figure held for a  year, that would amount to a bit more than 200,000 net fewer Republican voters in mostly red counties. Would that have electoral consequences as the US enters the mid-term elections next fall?

It would take lots of assumptions to make that sort of calculation work.  And I'm not trying to be cynical here. I don't want those Americans to die, no matter their party ID. 

Indeed, it is heartening to me that Republican electoral elites are starting to call for people to get vaccinated --  Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, for instance. 

The vaccines save lives and are safe. The FDA officially approved the Pfizer vaccine (which I received) and so it is not an "experimental" drug anymore. 

I really don't understand the hesitancy at this point. 

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