Vaccination has changed the situation. The vaccines are powerful enough to overwhelm other differences between blue and red areas.
Some left-leaning communities — like many suburbs of New York, San Francisco and Washington, as well as much of New England — have such high vaccination rates that even the unvaccinated are partly protected by the low number of cases. Conservative communities, on the other hand, have been walloped by the highly contagious Delta variant. (You can find data for hundreds of counties here.)
Since Delta began circulating widely in the U.S., Covid has exacted a horrific death toll on red America: In counties where Donald Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote, the virus has killed about 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June, according to Charles Gaba, a health care analyst. In counties where Trump won less than 32 percent of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000.
Why is this happening?
Some of the vaccination gap stems from the libertarian instincts of many Republicans. “They understand freedom as being left alone to make their own choices, and they resent being told what to do,” William Galston has written in The Wall Street Journal.
But philosophy is only a partial explanation. In much of the rest of the world, vaccine attitudes do not break down along right-left lines, and some conservative leaders have responded effectively to Covid. So have a few Republican governors in the U.S. “It didn’t have to be this way,” German Lopez of Vox has written.
What distinguishes the U.S. is a conservative party — the Republican Party — that has grown hostile to science and empirical evidence in recent decades. A conservative media complex, including Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group and various online outlets, echoes and amplifies this hostility. Trump took the conspiratorial thinking to a new level, but he did not create it.
MISCALCULATION BY GOP—As an epidemiologist, I think Republicans might be killing off their voter base faster than they think. The #COVID19 death rate since June 30 in counties where Trump got >90% of the vote are 9.5x higher than where he got <10%—pretty strong. HT @charles_gaba pic.twitter.com/e5IAE6qTv5— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) September 26, 2021