Yahoo! Spreads Liberal Think Tank Claiming Virus 'Spiking' in Counties That Voted for Trump

May 24th, 2020 9:27 AM

An article on Yahoo! News uses a liberal think tank's number-crunching to report "Coronavirus is spiking disproportionately in counties that voted for Trump in 2016." Katherine Krawczyk at The Week magazine reported: 

The 2016 election may help map the next coronavirus hotspots.

While COVID-19 is finally beginning to wane in some of the U.S. cities it hit hardest and earliest, coronavirus spread is still far from its peak in most small cities and rural areas across the country. And over the past four weeks, it's been more likely that counties will show a high prevalence of coronavirus next if they voted for President Trump in 2016, an analysis by the Brookings Institution reveals.

A high prevalence of coronavirus means a county saw coronavirus case rates of 100 or more per 100,000 people. Hundreds of counties have gained high-prevalence status over the past few weeks, and 176 new counties joined that list from May 10 to May 17 alone. Those 176 counties voted for Trump by a 12 percent margin in 2016 — Trump outright won 151 of them — and are also less urban and less racially diverse than areas where coronavirus spread in March and April, Brookings notes.

Why would these counties become "hotspots" now?

Trump has also been eager to reopen businesses, especially in less populous areas that didn't see as many coronavirus cases. And if his supporters were more likely to follow his lead and get back to normal, that could be aiding the spread as well. 

Does anyone remember media outlets reporting the overwhelming amount of virus deaths in urban centers were singled out as "counties that voted for Clinton"? Or that Clinton voters were "more likely" to engage in unhealthy behavior?

Peeking at the Brookings map of new (yellow) "spiking" counties, I can go to my Virginia COVID map and see just how much this "case rates of 100 or per 100,000 people" works out. In Augusta County in the western part of the state, there are 90 cases reported and only one death. In Dinwiddie County to the south, there 40 cases and zero deaths. In Nottoway County, 19 cases and zero deaths. "Spiking" might be overstating it. 

I can do the same with my home state of Wisconsin. Fond du Lac County has 158 cases and four deaths. Dodge County, 149 cases, one death. Calumet County, 69 cases, 1 death. Forest County, 11 cases, zero deaths. Does this scream "hotspot"? 

Brookings Institution researcher William Frey admits: "While it is true that many of the Clinton counties had larger populations than the mostly rural and small metropolitan Trump counties, voters residing in these counties, combined, favored Trump by a margin of 53 to 41."