A new study shows that counties with high support for Trump are seeing some of the fastest growth in new coronavirus infections.
Analyzing data of new infections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources, the Brookings Institute study found that over the last four weeks, counties newly designated with a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases were more likely to have voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
In the last week, counties with a new designation of high prevalence were even heavier in support for Trump, backing the president by a 12-point margin in the last election.
“Especially noteworthy are the political aspects of this expansion,” the study noted. “Among new high-prevalence counties from the week of May 11 to May 17, Trump won 151 of them in the 2016 election. Clinton was the victor in just 25. 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.”
Part of the spread was demographic, the study noted. While some of the earliest areas of high prevalence were large and densely populated cities like New York and New Orleans, the more recent growth in coronavirus cases has been in the South and Midwest, and more often in outer suburbs and small metropolitan areas.
Trump has pushed in recent weeks for states to start reopening, even as many have failed to reach benchmarks published by the White House they would need in order to start allowing businesses to open their doors again. On Friday, Trump commanded governors to immediately reopen churches, saying they are “essential places that provide essential services.”
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Trump said, via Politico. “It’s not right, so I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
Many of those states earliest to begin reopening have been those with governors close to Trump, including Florida and Georgia.
The study suggested that the growth in coronavirus cases among Trump-supporting areas could start to blunt the protest movement against lockdowns that have popped up across a number of states. Polls have consistently shown that Americans who support Trump have viewed the coronavirus less seriously, following along with many of the early statements from Trump downplaying its severity and predicting that the crisis would be over quickly.