And this is a map of vaccination rates by state (click “by state” to see it clearly!):
Assuming your brain is, well, working, you will notice the remarkable overlap between the two maps; states that voted for Joe Biden have higher vaccination rates while those that went for Donald Trump have far lower ones. And it’s not just that! In most cases, the stronger a state went for Biden, the higher the overall vaccination rate in that state is. That relationship is inversely proportional for Trump: The higher the former President’s winning percentage is in a state, the lower, generally speaking, the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated.
So, for example, Biden won 66% of the vote in Vermont in 2020. That same number — 66% — of Vermonters are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19. In Minnesota, Biden won with 52% of the vote. And, yup, you guessed it, 52% of the population has been fully vaccinated. In New Mexico, Biden took 54% of the vote in 2020; as of now, 55% of New Mexicans are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The flip side is also true. In Idaho, Trump won 64% of the vote. Just 36% of the state is fully vaccinated. Trump won 65% in Oklahoma; less than 4 in 10 (39%) residents of the state are fully vaccinated.
And on and on (and on) it goes. (If you want to play around with the similarity of the two maps more, here’s the 2020 Electoral College map and here’s the current vaccination rate map.)
The first three are obvious. The revealing part is this: EVERYTHING — including public health — is now best understood through a partisan lens.
In theory, there is absolutely no reason why states that voted heavily for Trump should be any less willing to take a vaccine to fight a virus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans than states that went strongly for Biden. After all, Covid-19 doesn’t check who you voted for in 2020 before infecting you. The virus is remarkably nonpartisan.
Unfortunately for all of us — but most especially for people in Trump states who are still not vaccinated — that’s not how lots and lots of people see it. Refusing the vaccine is regarded by some decent-sized chunk of Trump voters as a badge of honor — a statement of their freedom from government oppression, or something.
That’s true despite the fact that Trump himself has not only been infected with the virus but has also received the vaccination. And has even advocated for others to get it too! “I would recommend it and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly,” he said back in March.
The problem, of course, is that the Trump/freedom train had long left the station by then. Trump spent so long downplaying the virus, brazenly flouting public health guidelines to prevent the spread and openly questioning the need to wear masks that anything and everything to do with Covid-19 became political. And that very much includes whether or not you should get a vaccine with an unbelievably high efficacy rate against a virus that has killed more than 4 million people globally.
Like I said above: Stupid. And a reflection that our partisan political moment is dangerous — in more ways than one.