This article is co-authored with Matt Cropper, Zoran Stojakovic, and Eric Tyberg. We thank Mike Mohrman and Tom Kimpel for technical assistance.
Swanson and Tyberg reported earlier that nationwide, counties carried by Trump in 2016 took the lead in Covid-19 cases and deaths by the end of and that Trump’s super spreader campaign rallies along with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing by his followers may have spread more sickness and deaths among republicans than among democrats, especially in the immediate run-up to the election. They followed this up by looking at counties in Washington and found similar results. In this article we examine Whatcom County in more depth by looking at Covid-19 infection rates among its seven school districts, Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Meridian, Mount Baker, and Nooksack Valley.
In getting to our results, the 2020 presidential votes by election district were aggregated into the county’s seven school districts for which we already had population totals and Covid-19 case count totals over the last two weeks, the latter obtained from the Whatcom County Unified Command.
Four of the school districts were carried by Biden-Harris: Bellingham; Blaine; Ferndale; and Mount Baker. The remaining three, Lynden, Meridian, and Nooksack Valley, were carried by Trump-Pence. When we aggregated the four districts carried by Biden-Harris, we found a total population of 135,594 and 1,294 Covid-19 cases reported over the last two weeks. These numbers lead to an infection rate of 954.3 per 100,000 people. For the three districts carried by Trump-Pence, we found a total population of 32,092 and 445 Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks. These numbers lead to an infection rate of 1,386.6 per 100,000 people.
The infection rate in the three school districts carried by Trump-Pence is about 1.4 times higher than the infection rate found in the four school districts carried by Biden-Harris. These results are consistent with earlier findings when the counties in the US as a whole were examined and when the 39 counties in Washington were examined. For the US as a whole the 2,656 counties carried by Trump in 2016 exhibited infection rates approximately two times higher than the 487 counties carried by Clinton. In Washington, the 27 counties carried by Trump in 2016 posted an infection rate 1.4 times higher that found in the 12 counties carried by Clinton. Note that the 27 counties by Trump in 2016 were also carried by Trump in 2020 while the 12 counties carried by Clinton in 2016 were carried by Biden-Harris in 2020.
It appears that the effects of treating the Covid-19 pandemic as a hoax, along with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing by Trump’s followers can be seen even down to sub-county levels, in this case the school districts in Whatcom County. One wonders what we would see if we could drill down even deeper, to the individual level. If the demographics for individual Covid-19 cases included political orientation, the evidence to-date suggests that there would be higher rates among those who voted for Trump-Pence.