Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Keeping up the tradition

 I had a post on state differences in Covid rates around the beginning of September, another one around the beginning of October, and another around the beginning of November.  I wasn't planning on having another one, but then I read Bret Stephen's column this morning.  He said "Over the summer, as Covid cases started rising from their midyear lows, it became popular to blame Republicans for fueling the pandemic. The argument was that Covid had become a red-state scourge because of lower rates of mask-wearing and vaccination — along with high doses of vaccine misinformation — in places that went heavily for Donald Trump.  . . . It even seemed true for a while . . . But the virus has had a way of making fools of us all."  He didn't say the relation to partisan leanings had disappeared, but gave a few examples that seemed to point in that direction and said "let's end the partisan blame games.   They're pointless, divisive, and dumb."  

The correlations between Biden's share of the 2020 vote and Covid hospitalization rates at the end of the month:

Aug      -.42

Sept      -.63

Oct       -.51

Nov      -.25

The latest data:

As I've mentioned before, state rankings change quickly.  Current hospitalization rates are positively correlated with hospitalization rates one month ago (.56) but have no correlation with rates in late September and a negative correlation with rates in late August (-.39).  What if we take the sum of rates at the four times?

That's a correlation of -.71, stronger than the correlations at any one time.  Of course, it's not directly due to partisanship, but to differences in vaccination rates.  But state levels of vaccination have consistently been related to state differences in partisanship. Stephens suggests that the relationship between partisanship and vaccination is a matter of individual differences:  "people have needs and ideas that differ from ours," but they are at least partly (I would say "mostly") the result of the leadership from party elites.   And blaming political elites for policy failures is an important part of democracy. 

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