This article is co-authored with Eric Tyberg, a retired IT executive and consultant residing in Lincoln, California. Originally from Falun, Wisconsin, he rose through the ranks at IBM and formed his own consulting business when IBM downsized.
We reported earlier that nationwide, counties carried by Trump in 2016 took the lead in Covid-19 cases and deaths by the end of October and that Trump’s super spreader campaign rallies along with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing by his followers may have turned out to be a factor in assisting Biden, not in terms of policy, but because they spread more sickness and deaths among republicans than among democrats, especially in the immediate run-up to the election. In this article, we examine Washington, first in terms of its 39 counties as a whole and then by comparing selected counties in terms of political orientation, Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths.
The presidential vote in Washington by county did not change between 2016 and 2020. The 12 counties that were carried by Clinton in 2016 are the same counties carried by Biden in 2020 (Clark, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Whatcom, and Whitman). The remaining 27 counties were carried by Trump in both elections. Among the 12 counties carried by Biden, 44.01 Covid-19 cases were reported per 10,000 people between October 1st and November 15th along with 44.50 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people. Among the 27 counties carried by Trump, there were 62.44 Covid-19 cases recorded per 10,000 people during the same period and 70.05 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people. The Covid-19 case rate is 1.4 times higher in the 27 counties carried by Trump and the Covid-19 death rate is 1.6 times higher.
Looking at Benton and Whatcom counties (which, other than political orientation, share a lot of similarities), the former was carried by Trump both in 2016 and 2020, with Byant carrying the 2016 gubernatorial vote and Culp carrying the 2020 gubernatorial vote. Whatcom County was carried by Clinton and Inslee in 2016 and Biden and Inslee in 2020. Between October 1st and November 15th, Benton County recorded 82.39 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 people while Whatcom recorded 19.72 during the same period. During this same period Benton County recorded 39.14 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people while Whatcom County reported 26.17 for the same period. The rates are approximately 4.2 times more in terms of Covid-19 cases and 1.5 times in terms of Covid-19 deaths in Benton County than found in Whatcom County.
In the 2020 election, 73.7% of the vote in San Juan County was for Governor Inslee and 26.3% for Loren Culp. Garfield County is virtually a mirror image of San Juan County, with 76.3% of the vote for Culp and 23.7% for Inslee. Between October 1st and November 15th, San Juan County recorded 8.53 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 people and zero Covid-19 fatalities. Garfield County recorded 148.31 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 in the same period and zero Covid-19 fatalities. Lincoln is another county similar in political orientation to Garfield (78.1% of its voters chose Culp over Inslee). Between October 1st and November 15th, Lincoln County recorded 38.39 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 people and one Covid-19 death. Both Garfield and Lincoln counties have substantially smaller populations than San Juan County. Asotin, another county carried by Culp and Trump in 2020, has a slightly larger population (about 23,000 compared to approximately 18,000). Between October 1st and November 15th, it reported 152.78 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 people and 354.26 Covid-19 deaths (eight deaths in total) per 100.000 people.
Island County was carried by Inslee and Biden in 2020. With a population around 80,000 people, between October 1st and November 15th, it recorded 19.97 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 people and zero Covid-19 fatalities. Jefferson (with a population of approximately 32,000) is another county carried by Inslee and Biden in 2020. It reported 10.86 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 and zero Covid-19 fatalities. Skagit County, carried by Inslee and Biden in 2020, reported 32.74 Covid-19 cases per 10,000 people and 23.22 Covid-19 deaths (3 deaths in total ) per 100,000 people. Each of these counties report case and fatality rates that are lower than found for the 27 counties as a whole that voted for Trump.
Following the results by county nationwide, it appears that treating the Covid-19 pandemic as a hoax, along with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing by Trump’s followers may have turned out to be a factor in assisting Biden –and Inslee - in carrying Washington because these beliefs and behaviors spread more sickness and deaths among republicans than among democrats, especially in the immediate run-up to the election. Unfortunately, the trends suggest that while cases and fatalities mount nationally and statewide, the rates and counts will be more substantial in the counties carried by Trump. His followers are already paying a higher price in terms of their health by supporting him over Biden and the price is likely to increase both nationwide and in Washington. They should consider learning something about Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance.