Nov 6, 2020
NPR – Support for President Trump increased in 2020 in many of the U.S. counties that lost lives at the highest rate to COVID-19, according to an NPR analysis.
Of the 100 counties with the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita, 68 had a higher proportion of votes cast for Trump this cycle than they did in 2016. This includes both Republican-leaning counties and counties that supported Joe Biden.
“It’s surprising to see that the president surged compared to 2016 in the areas that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic,” says Thad Kousser, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego.
But Kousser and several other experts stress that many things influence how people vote and that it’s currently impossible to tease out what effect high death rates and the pandemic in general might have had on voting. Numerous other factors may have led voters in these places to support Trump.
Of the top 100 counties with the highest COVID-19 death rates, all but six had completed vote counts as of Thursday, when NPR ran this analysis. And the shift toward support for Trump was significant in some cases.
For example, the shift in the vote margin for Trump increased in Starr County, Texas, by 55 points.
That’s the largest shift toward the president in the U.S., though the county ultimately went for Biden; the county has seen 186 deaths and has a population of 65,000. And in Richmond County, N.Y., Trump’s lead over Biden was 9 points higher than it was in 2016; that county saw 1,100 deaths.
Trump’s support rose even in the county with the highest death rate per capita in the country: Gove County, Kansas, where there have been 18 deaths out of the town’s 2,600 residents. There, Trump’s tally increased from a 74-point win against Hillary Clinton in 2016 to a 76-point win against Biden.
Overall, of the top 25% of counties with the highest death rates, two-thirds saw increases in the share of votes cast for Trump … Read more.
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