More Republicans have died from COVID-19. Does this mean the polls are cancelled?
Doctors and demographers have recently noticed another tragic example of how polarization shapes America: The pandemic has killed more people in the country’s Republican enclaves than in its Democratic strongholds. They explain the discrepancy by pointing to Republican resistance to vaccines and the GOP’s more cavalier approach to combating the virus in general.
These results suggest that far more Republicans — tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands — have died from COVID-19 than Democrats, leading some to wonder with some morbidity what the political impact will be. Will Democrats, faced with the normal headwinds of the midterm elections and high inflation, fare surprisingly well in 2022 for the simple and sad fact that there are fewer Republicans?
Or, to put it another way: can we expect this partisan change in mortality to show up in the polling data?
A partisan divide
In January, the Pew Research Center found that 33% of Republicans had not received a vaccine, compared to 10% of Democrats. Another Pew survey that month showed a widening mask gap, with Republicans less likely than Democrats (39% vs. 79%) to say they wore masks in stores most or all of the time. .
The disparate approaches have been accompanied by a partisan division of death. GOP-led states that lifted lockdowns earlier had higher excess death rates than blue states, a Journal of the American Medical Association article showed. Florida and Georgia had more than 200 deaths per 100,000, while New York had 112 per 100,000, New Jersey had 73 per 100,000, and Massachusetts 50 per 100,000. “Between August and December 2021, Florida has experienced more than triple the number of excess deaths (29, 252) than New York (8,786), despite the two states having similar population numbers (21.7 million and 19.3 million, respectively),” Steven H. Woolf wrote.