Coronavirus was first spread in the United States in coastal towns and large cities, without touching many rural areas or small cities. Translated this into political geography: the pandemic initially affected Democratic areas.
But not anymore. An analysis by The Associated Press of infection figures shows that the pandemic has spread rapidly to Republican areas, a course that could have broad political ramifications.
The states that President Donald Trump won in the 2016 election account for about 75% of new cases, a trend that has accelerated since the end of May. Counties that voted for Trump in 2016 have seen an increase in the number of infections and deaths, similar to counties that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The spread of the virus in Republican areas could cause partisan divisions around the disease. In the first phase, the virus was an undeniable reality for many Democrats, and it was primarily up to Democratic governors and mayors to issue the most stringent homebound measures that slowed the economy.
For its part, Trump’s supporter base was not directly affected. Supporters of the president are less likely to support preventive measures and more to believe that the dangers were exaggerated and not to worry that their friends or family may catch it. Some Republican governors followed the president’s example, delaying ordering house confinement, putting in less stringent measures, and then reducing restrictions on business operations in late April and May.
Due to the recent increase in infections, some Republican governors have been forced to cancel reopens. It is unknown whether this will also cause Republican voters to reconsider their opinion on the coronavirus and the handling of the crisis by their authorities.
New York Governor Democrat Andrew Cuomo openly claimed credit for himself and other Democrats for initially facing the coronavirus, as well as skepticism from Trump and other Republicans.
« You played the virus politically and lost, » Cuomo said on CNN, in a hint to Republicans who downplayed the infections. « You said to the people of this state, to the people of this country, of the White House:‘ Don’t worry. Keep up your activities. This is Democratic exaggeration. «
« It was never political, » said Cuomo. « It was always science. »
Counties Trump won have seen new cases in the past week at almost the same rate as counties he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016. To be clear, infections are on the rise in both groups. But this comes after the decline in the rate of new infections throughout much of the spring in counties won by Clinton, where social distancing measures and restrictions on business and public gatherings were initially imposed.
Like the COVID-19 cases, the distribution of deaths has also been balanced. The initial increase in March and early April occurred in Democratic counties. But then they had a marked reduction in deaths per million inhabitants. In Trump counties, deaths increased, stabilized, and then began to drop, but at a slower rate than in Democratic counties. Now the difference is much smaller between the two groups.