Democratic States Have The Worst COVID-19 Death Rates

Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, wants to deflect criticism for his own responsibility in sending COVID-19 patients into nursing homes. He is making a new false claim in the attempt to shift the blame elsewhere.

I select one statement of his to fact-check: “The facts are in. The numbers are in. Look at the number of bodies. Look at the infection rate. New York’s numbers have declined while the nation is going up.”

Yes, let’s look at the number of dead. This is no comfort whatsoever to the people who have had to face the death of loved ones. Few of us have been left untouched by such personal knowledge or by related anxiety over this illness and how it’s been addressed by politicians and public health leaders. But the number of dead does provide critical information, even though deaths attributed to COVID-19 are data that are noisy. They are corrupted by which deaths are assigned to COVID-19. To use these data, until and unless they can be cleaned up, we have to assume that the degree of miscounting is more or less equivalent across all the states.

The obvious way to examine the truth or falsity of Cuomo’s boasting is to look at per capita COVID-19 deaths across the states. That gives us a snapshot as of now as to New York’s standing. Maybe we’ll have a different snapshot 3 months or 6 months from now, but that will be then, not now. And right now, is Cuomo telling us the truth or is he making it up like a 5-year old denying he was playing with matches?

Cuomo is telling a bald-faced lie. He’s misleading everyone on purpose, both to save his skin, to criticize Trump, and to enhance his own standing. Deaths per capita across states and territories can be found at this web site. These data are very recent, dated July 13, 2020.

New Jersey has the highest (worst) COVID-19 death rate which is 175 per 100,000 population. New York is second at 166. So much for Andrew Cuomo’s credibility.

But let us go further into this matter and examine a political variable’s association with COVID-19 deaths.

The 12 worst COVID-19 states/territories and their political leadership are listed next. We find that 11 of the 12 worst states by death rates have Democratic leadership:

1. New Jersey, 175, DEMOCRATIC
2. New York, 166, DEMOCRATIC
3. Connecticut, 122, DEMOCRATIC
4. Massachusetts, 121, DEMOCRATIC
5. Rhode Island, 92, DEMOCRATIC
6. District of Columbia, 80, DEMOCRATIC
7. Louisiana, 73, DEMOCRATIC
8. Michigan, 63, DEMOCRATIC
9. Illinois, 58, DEMOCRATIC
10. Maryland, 55, REPUBLICAN
11. Pennsylvania, 54, DEMOCRATIC
12. Delaware, 53, DEMOCRATIC

This is an astonishing finding. The odds against this occurring by chance are enormous. This will pass a statistical test at a high level of confidence. It means that something systematic, something or things non-random, have occurred in Democratic-governed states; and that factor or factors have caused a higher COVID-19 death rate in those states. (See also this remark by Thomas DiLorenzo that Maryland’s governor is a Republican in name only (RINO).)

There are other ways to evaluate these findings and control for other variables. This is far from a complete analysis. But it’s enough to show that Cuomo is way off base when measured by per capita deaths, which after all is said and done, is the most important matter, not rates of infection or trends that may or may not be occurring presently.

One way to extend this analysis is to compare a state like Louisiana with adjacent border states that might be similar to it in ways such as climate, ethnicity, density of population, racial composition, age composition, but dissimilar in political leadership.

Louisiana, 73, DEMOCRATIC
Arkansas, 11, REPUBLICAN
Mississippi, 42, REPUBLICAN

This comparison is consistent with what cropped up in the top 12. The neighboring states could have turned out to be Democratic, but they didn’t.

Pennsylvania has as neighbors Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia. The first four already appear above. Then for the new ones we have

Pennsylvania, 54, DEMOCRATIC
West Virginia, 5, REPUBLICAN

Again, the new evidence here is consistent with the initial finding.

Illinois has the neighbors Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin. The new states provide us with new comparisons:

Illinois, 58, DEMOCRATIC
Indiana, 41, REPUBLICAN
Kentucky, 14, DEMOCRATIC
Missouri, 18, REPUBLICAN
Wisconsin, 14, DEMOCRATIC

This is much less clear, but we do find that of the 5 bordering states that have lower death rates, 3 are Republican and 2 are Democratic.

These additional comparisons and the fact that 11 of the worst 12 states have Democratic governors are consistent with the hypothesis that Democratic states have fared worse in COVID-19 deaths than Republican-led states. Why this has occurred requires further examination not pursued here, but it’s certainly a provocative finding. One thing to look at should certainly be the nursing home policies pursued by the Democratic states versus the Republican states.


10:34 am on July 14, 2020