US Elections and the Spread of the COVID

Mahmut Karayel
11 Nov 2020

Spread of COVID and the US Elections

In the first ten days of November, there were more than one million new cases of COVID in the United States. The pandemic is spreading at a faster rate in November than in October.

It is evident from the post-election rhetoric that it is a divided country in many respects. Including with respect to the attitude towards the pandemic. In what turned out to be Red states, the spread rate of the pandemic in October was faster than in the states that voted Blue. Simply averaged over the states, average of the new October cases as percent of population was 1.9% in Red states. For the Blue states this average was 1.1%.

Below, I plotted Trump’s lead over Biden (negative if Biden is leading) against the speed at which the virus is spreading each state. I downloaded the data from ALTADATA COVID-19 Tracker I measured virus' spread as the percent of population in a state that was confirmed positive during the month of October. I also plotted the projected spread rate in November, projecting from the first four days of November. It seems that a second wave is on hand, and we need to deal with it. The picture here is telling.

The COVID-19 pandemic was expected to be a big determinant of the election results, but was it? Clearly, the economy is also a big concern for the great majority of the population. But lacking a consistent message and strong leadership, this did not result in a unified view of how best to respond the pandemic to save the economy.

On the other hand, were the democrats able to get through their message that the pandemic and health care should be the most important issue, because unless managed carefully, it will affect the economy for a longer time? When does this message work anyway? It works when work is online. It works if people have savings and can wait it out. It works in communities where people have lost relatives. In other places, it may not work as well.

There is no one economy now and campaigns need to recognize this fact. Almost thirty years ago, Clinton’s campaign message, “It’s the economy, stupid” worked well for him. Today, the knee-jerk response to the same message would be “which economy”?

See Also ALTADATA Daily Updated COVID-19 Tracker

Suggested ALTADATA Data References

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