US Democratic States And High Coronavirus Infection Rate: Causation Or Correlation?

When the novel coronavirus first emerged in the United States, statistics showed that Democratic-led states in the US were more severely hit by the disease and its economic and human consequences than their Republican counterparts. The most severely affected states were New York and California. Many critics of the Democratic party claimed it had to do something with the ‘incompetence’ of the Democratic leaders of those areas who seemed unable to handle the pandemic efficiently. Many saw a causal relationship between the results of the 2016 U.S presidential vote and the impact of COVID-19. However, by August, this theory proved to be a spurious relationship.

President Donald Trump and his Republican allies had denied the virus’s existence in the first few months, claiming several times that ‘It’s going to disappear’, ‘It will go away’ or  even that ‘It’s fading away’. Demonstrations in Republican cities took place to protest against the lockdowns of businesses, school and shops. However, as COVID-19 spread across the globe, it reached eventually even the sceptics. By August, Texas, Florida and Georgia became 3 of the 5 states with the largest numbers of infection in the country. Data has proven that ignorance and populism cannot solve a serious problem such as a pandemic.

President Trump’s and many of the Republican politicians’ degrading attitude towards science and the ignorance of the WHO’s warnings could cost them the presidency seat at the upcoming November elections. Many voters have lost their faith in Trump’s rhetoric as they saw Republican politicians, who originally opposed the existence of the virus, getting infected as well as their friends and family members getting sick or even dying.

Examining the formerly believed theory, we can conclude its lack of scientific foundation. Instead, there is another explanation for the correlation. The Democratic states are traditionally those with the coastal metropolitan cities, where much of the country’s foreign trade is conducted and thousands of foreigners arrive from all around the world for various purposes. Thus, the large number of human and economic movements in those cities could easily have brought in and spread the coronavirus. Many of the Republican states are made up of rural areas which are less open to the public. Therefore, the variable that could explain both the election of Democrats and the high infection rate might be the accessibility of those counties.  Moreover, various research projects have shown that the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionally affected African Americans and Latinos who are also more likely to be Democratic voters.

Overall, one lesson among many others that the coronavirus has taught us is not that Democratic leaders are less competent to govern their states and cities, but that ignorance does not solve the problem; it only makes it worse in in the long term and can cause millions of lives. Furthermore, the virus has shown that inequalities based on racial and economic differences still play an influential role in the flagship of the world’s liberal democratic country.