Covid deaths could change election results: Do more Republican voters die than Democrats?


The projected deaths for Covid-19 in the USA are horrific -- 100,000 to 240,000. Let's hope it's not nearly that bad, but those numbers are enough that they actually could alter the election. Not simply because Covid-19 will be the top issue in the election, but because voters will die.

While right now most deaths are in "blue states" like New York, California and the like, it won't affect their votes. As always, it revolves around the swing states: FL, PA, MI, NC, WI, AZ. Especially Florida and Pennyslvania. By definition these states have evenly balanced numbers of Trump supporters and Biden supporters.

Covid-19 overwhelmingly kills those over 65. It kills a few younger people but far fewer. Older people vote much more than younger people. Seniors favoured Trump 52% to 45% in 2016, Twentysomethings favoured Clinton 55% to 36%.

Covid-19 also kills 50% more men than women. Men favoured Trump 52 to 41 in 2016, women favoured Clinton 54 to 41.

There is speculation Covid will strike lower income people more for a variety of reasons. This is as yet unproven, but they favoured Clinton 53 to 41, while those over $50K in income slightly favoured Trump, 48 to 47. Lower income people are less able to self-isolate and give up work and have less health care access.

At present, Covid-19 is more present in cities. It is unknown if this will persist as it spreads. In theory it should not, but since it began in cities, and slows down after lockdown, it might stay mostly in cities. Urban voters favour Democrats over GOP by 59% to 35%. Rural voters favour GOP by 62% to 34%. Suburban voters are even. This is the real divide between the parties.

What will matter, then, is whether Covid-19 hurts city and country differently in Florida and Pennsylvania, in particular. Florida waited until April 1 for lockdown. PA waited until March 16, with further measures March 19.

And of course, there is the effect of the crisis as a political issue. For now, Trump's approval numbers are up. Head to head polls of Biden vs. Trump in swing states do not show strong movement in either way during the crisis. I am maintaining a list of all the swing state polls -- the only polls that matter -- in this spreadsheet


The top 5 counties in Florida for Covid-19 cases (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, and Orange) are the 5 counties in Florida that gave the most votes to Clinton, and are the only 5 counties in Florida that Clinton won by more than 40,000 votes. Clinton won those counties by a total of 860,491 votes while losing by 112,911 votes in the state of Florida.

Those 5 counties also are counties that were already "in lockdown" before April 1.

In Pennsylvania (which is projected to have 2,000 COVID deaths compared to 7,000 in Florida), the most heavily hit county (Philadelphia) voted 83% for Clinton (vs. 15% for Trump). The top 4 counties for COVID cases in Pennsylvania all were blue in 2016.

(Basically the same thing in Michigan. I'll let you look it up yourself.)

It "began" in cities, and cities are a breeding grounds for it. I know of no theory by which that is going to change, especially since most of the spreading has already happened.

P.S., the only swing state polls that matter are the swing state exit polls.

Well, yes, the polls only tell you how people think now, and they have many errors and biases, but they are the only data available and certain patterns can be seen from them. They can tell you if a state is becoming swing, or if it's safe. They won't tell you who is going to win. They can tell you who does not have a lock on it.

Of course the large counties are "heaviest hit" if you look at absolute numbers of victims. It is per capita that one would want to examine.

Feel free to do whatever "per capita" analysis you think is better. This virus is hitting Democrats much more than Republicans. It is disproportionately hitting urban communities the hardest. It is disproportionately hitting minorities the hardest.

I don't think the polls "can tell you if a state is becoming swing." It's just way too early. Even in a normal year it would be way too early. But in a year like this one it's even harder to predict what's going to happen.

I do think the national polls are showing that Trump is getting a boost from the additional media exposure. But that will likely fade away over time. Clinton lost the 2016 election on October 28, 2016, when the FBI announced it was looking into newly discovered emails. Perhaps Biden will stumble well before then. The Trump campaign hasn't even really begun the attacks, though you can see them setting the stage for many of them. The attacks will likely begin in earnest after the DNC selects Biden. And we don't even know for sure if Biden is going to be the nominee. The betting markets only give him 84% odds, with Cuomo at 6.3%, Clinton at 5.9%, and Sanders at 5.2%. (I'm surprised Sanders is that high.) Perhaps Biden will hold up through the attacks and propaganda. It's hard to see that, though. One thing I think we can be sure of is that the usual attacks that work to bring down a candidate aren't going to work against Trump.

Where is the economy going to be in November? Where is the virus going to be in November? Will we be in the middle of the second wave? Will there be mail-in ballots? What campaign platforms are the two campaigns going to come up with after the first wave is over? I can guess at Trump's plan, but I'm very uncertain at what Biden's plan is going to be for rebuilding the economy in the wake of a truly unprecedented shock. I don't think he has even come up with it himself yet, and that might be a good thing as we don't know yet what the aftermath of this is going to look like.

If you haven't made up your mind on Trump vs. Anyone-But-Trump a year ago, I don't see how you're going to have made up your mind today.

Trump v. Cuomo would be interesting. Unlikely, unfortunately.

But possible. If Biden clinches the majority or even the plurality of delegates and then has to drop out (for health reasons or because some scandal is uncovered), it could be just about anyone. Probably not Clinton, as that'd just enflame the conspiracy theories that hurt her so much in 2016. Probably not Sanders, as he's too radical to unite the party that has clearly demonstrated that they want someone more moderate. If I could get really good odds (and it looks like I could) maybe I'd put my money on Buttigieg. But yeah, Cuomo would be a great choice, unless he's got some skeletons or isn't willing to do it. (Any of the four I mentioned would probably do better than Biden. Okay, maybe not Clinton, but only because that'd get the deep-state conspiracy theories running on overdrive.)

Will things move before November? Certainly. And polls will show that movement. All candidates use the polls to decide what states to spend money in, and that's not an unwise thing though it can be done unwisely.

National polls show only broad trends. Their only value, though is that they are done much more frequently so you can see those trends more clearly. It is a shame they are done at all. They have no significance, as the USA does not have national elections, and it would be much better if they only polled the interesting states, and summed them up into a "all swing states" poll if they needed to. I presume they do national polls because they attract interest everywhere (to people who don't realize the numbers are misleading) while if you poll just Florida, while it matters much more, a smaller set of people pay attention.

The only reason Sanders is that high is that Biden could get the virus and leave the race for this or other health reasons. Ditto Cuomo. I don't know where the Clinton comes from. The attacks on Biden will be hard.

Fortunately, for the Dems, I think they may have, in the virus, an issue they can actually get to stick to Trump. While Trump will spin himself as the hero of the Chinese virus, who saved America (in party by defying scientists and promoting chloroquine) and many in his base and filter bubble will buy it, Biden will be able to make devastating adds full of Trump video saying all the very wrong things, then changing his mind when it was obvious to everybody else, and tying it to the death toll when comparing to Germany, Taiwan, Singapore etc.

I think these ads will actually work on the independents and the Trump-disliking right. They won't make them vote Biden but they will stay home.

Everybody says "If you haven't made up your mind" but in fact that is a deceptive trap. There are some people (enough to swing the swing states) but most of all there are enough people who haven't made up their mind not on who they like, but if they will vote. Many make up their mind on election day.

I suspect if Biden did drop out, Cuomo could take it, but he insists very strongly he does not wish it. However, if Biden dropped out, he might well wish it, unless he likes Sanders, in which case he could boost Sanders into getting it.

Yes, the USA does not have national elections. The USA also does not have an election that is held today.

National polls can be an important factor in predicting the election. 538 uses them to calculate adjustments to the state polls, for instance. But predictions made today are, I think, not helped at all by any recent polls. There are too many factors that can't be polled, at least not by polling the general population.

There's another problem with polls that are done today, and I think it could be a very significant one. As I'm sure you know, sampling bias is a huge obstacle to getting accurate poll results. No matter how you design your poll, you're not going to get a random sample because certain groups will be underrepresented and certain other groups will be overrepresented. The problem is that who those groups are has likely changed drastically given that most of the population is under some sort of lockdown (and complicating things further; whether or not you are under a "lockdown" is itself correlated with political affiliation). Polls use some sort of weighting to try to counteract sample bias, but the proper weighting to use is going to be difficult to figure out right now.

Clearly the reason anyone other than Biden is given a chance to win the nomination is that Biden might drop out of the race. But I still don't see how Sanders would become the nominee even in that scenario. He's not going to get a majority of delegates. Even if Biden died tomorrow, he'd still probably win the most delegates in the primary, and I don't see any of his delegates voting for Sanders. If Biden drops out prior to the DNC, we'll presumably have a brokered convention. I could see Clinton or Cuomo winning in a brokered convention. I can't really see Sanders winning. As I said above, he's too radical, and the voters have clearly rejected him for that reason. (I think it's clear they rejected him too; it wasn't that voters liked Sanders but just liked Biden more. Biden surged because a huge number of voters are terrified of Sanders.)

Trump is an idiot. He's a narcissist who lies constantly. There's nothing new about this, and if that's all the Democrats have then they are going to lose, again. If things keep going the way they've been going, Trump will get a boost from the virus, because while he's an idiot who constantly lies, he has shown himself to be willing to listen to experts when it comes to actually making decisions. Moreover, as Trump's campaign will be sure to point out (and as he has already been alluding to), the death toll is simply not his fault. No doubt the Democrats will try to pin it all on Trump, and perhaps this is a reason why Cuomo shouldn't run - because Cuomo is more to blame than Trump is for the high death toll. The federal government doesn't run hospitals. States and local governments do.

I think this argument will backfire drastically on freedom-minded independents and the Trump-disliking right. Once this is over (if not already today), I think those of us who believe in the Constitution are going to be extremely embarrassed that we put so much hope in, and blame on, the federal government.

You're probably right that turnout is more important than undecided voters. But that's another reason why polls taken today are so useless. From what I've read it's highly likely that this virus will still be around in November. It might be contained here in the USA. We might have effective treatments. But we might not. Mail-in ballots are already allowed by any registered voter in Florida and Michigan, and the governor of Pennsylvania, where mail-in ballots are allowed but are somewhat burdensome to obtain, is a Democrat. And we might see a strong uptick in people taking advantage of mail-in voting, whether COVID is still around or not. Maybe we'll even see some mail-in ballots cast by people who died from COVID-19. Moreover, no one can predict today where it's going to rain on election day.

There is lots of it. And of course, good pollsters do all they can to compensate for it, but it's not enough. They scan all the major demographic groups and make sure each is represented correctly. (For example, if a state is 80% white, 20% black, they will pick 200 people at random from a pool of black respondents and 800 from a pool of white. And so on and so on. Far from perfect, of course.)

538 rates pollsters based on how well their just-before-election polls track the actual election results. This helps tell how well they are doing their samples. If they keep doing it right, then they are better at reducing the sampling bias.

In any event, the polls do tell important things by asking about today. I mean, the fact that Biden beats Trump by 40 points in California tells people not to worry about California or spend effort there. The fact that no significant difference is found in Florida, tells you the reverse there. It doesn't tell you who will win, it tells you how likely it is. You use electoral history but that's ancient, so you combine them both.

Is some of this death not Trump's fault? He certainly could have taken steps such as those taken in Germany, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore. Instead he said, "don't worry this is not a problem, it will be gone soon."

No, Trump could not have taken steps such as those taken in Germany, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore. That's not the way the United States works. Who would enforce a national lockdown order? The FBI? There are 13,412 FBI special agents. Compare that with 36,000 police officers in New York City alone. Blaming Trump for what happened in New York is almost like blaming the EU for what happened in Italy.

People shouldn't worry, and this will go away. But I've agreed with you that what Trump has said has been awful. Thing is, there's nothing new about that.

You don't need a poll, let alone a recent poll, to tell you that California is safe and Florida isn't.

I expect the real danger is in access to voting and polling at all. This is what the republicans have already mastered in past cycles and will triple down on, unchecked during the crisis: Preventing non-hate people from voting legally, physically, and mentally via fear.

This pandemic is more likely to hand Trump the election than take it away from him. Stressed people vote for the devil they know. Deaths, logic, truth, and reason are 100% irrelevant. (ex: 2004)

How the democratic party plans to counter this matters. I _wish_ I could trust that they can figure out a correct strategy to avoid that outcome... But haven't seen evidence that they actually can empathize with the mental reality of Trump voters in order to understand how to crack their messiah-complex.

On top of that, the viable democratic candidates and many supreme court justices are high risk. I'll be surprised if all of them survive the year.

Many hope the polls can be open in November, but all states allow vote by mail. Right now the GOP are actually quite scared of vote by mail, because of a belief it increases turnout, which is devastating to the GOP up and down the ticket.

16 states require an excuse to vote by mail. New Hampshire is the only swing state among them, though.

34 states allow voting by mail, but put up hurdles to doing so.

5 states make it easy.

5 states do all voting by mail. (warning: biased article)


Anyone know if any of the states that allow or require voting by mail let you do so without stamps? Who has stamps these days?

I don't know about the hurdles, but one hopes they can be fixed with some simple legislation. Of course the state has to get ready to process most ballots by mail.

As for needing an excuse, well, I would say a plague is an excuse.

New Hampshire is not on most common swing state lists. The main states to examine are FL,PA then NC, WI, MI and AZ

"U.S. urban cores, racial minorities (especially Black Americans), and those who cast votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 disproportionately comprise counties where COVID-19 cases are currently clustered—a stark contrast to areas where there is a low level of coronavirus exposure."

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