Excess Death Rates for Republican and Democratic Registered Voters in Florida and Ohio During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2807617



Key Points

Question  Was political party affiliation a risk factor associated with excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida and Ohio?

Findings  In this cohort study evaluating 538 159 deaths in individuals aged 25 years and older in Florida and Ohio between March 2020 and December 2021, excess mortality was significantly higher for Republican voters than Democratic voters after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults, but not before. These differences were concentrated in counties with lower vaccination rates, and primarily noted in voters residing in Ohio.

Meaning  The differences in excess mortality by political party affiliation after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults suggest that differences in vaccination attitudes and reported uptake between Republican and Democratic voters may have been a factor in the severity and trajectory of the pandemic in the US.


Importance  There is evidence that Republican-leaning counties have had higher COVID-19 death rates than Democratic-leaning counties and similar evidence of an association between political party affiliation and attitudes regarding COVID-19 vaccination; further data on these rates may be useful.

Objective  To assess political party affiliation and mortality rates for individuals during the initial 22 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A cross-sectional comparison of excess mortality between registered Republican and Democratic voters between March 2020 and December 2021 adjusted for age and state of voter registration was conducted. Voter and mortality data from Florida and Ohio in 2017 linked to mortality records for January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2021, were used in data analysis.

Exposures  Political party affiliation.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Excess weekly deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic adjusted for age, county, party affiliation, and seasonality.

Results  Between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2021, there were 538 159 individuals in Ohio and Florida who died at age 25 years or older in the study sample. The median age at death was 78 years (IQR, 71-89 years). Overall, the excess death rate for Republican voters was 2.8 percentage points, or 15%, higher than the excess death rate for Democratic voters (95% prediction interval [PI], 1.6-3.7 percentage points). After May 1, 2021, when vaccines were available to all adults, the excess death rate gap between Republican and Democratic voters widened from −0.9 percentage point (95% PI, −2.5 to 0.3 percentage points) to 7.7 percentage points (95% PI, 6.0-9.3 percentage points) in the adjusted analysis; the excess death rate among Republican voters was 43% higher than the excess death rate among Democratic voters. The gap in excess death rates between Republican and Democratic voters was larger in counties with lower vaccination rates and was primarily noted in voters residing in Ohio.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this cross-sectional study, an association was observed between political party affiliation and excess deaths in Ohio and Florida after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults. These findings suggest that differences in vaccination attitudes and reported uptake between Republican and Democratic voters may have been factors in the severity and trajectory of the pandemic in the US.

Author(s): Jacob Wallace, PhD1; Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, PhD2; Jason L. Schwartz, PhD1

Publication Date: 24 July 2023

Publication Site: JAMA Internal Medicine

An Update on America’s Homicide Surge

Link: https://www.city-journal.org/update-on-americas-homicide-surge



Last year, Christos Makridis and I used homicide data from the Centers for Disease Control to break down the 2020 homicide spike by geography and demographics. With another year’s worth of numbers now finalized—plus “provisional” numbers stretching into 2022—it’s time for a brief update. The CDC’s data, compiled from death certificates, are especially crucial in a year when the FBI completely failed to collect murder data from many of the nation’s police departments.

The good news is that, after spiking in 2020 and rising a little further in 2021, homicides seem to be falling again. The bad news is that this has been an extremely slow process, with recent numbers still well above pre-2020 levels, even if violence remains far from the sky-high levels of the early 1990s.

The CDC puts the national homicide rate at 7.8 per 100,000 for 2021, versus 7.5 for 2020 and 5.8 for 2019. Here are the month-by-month totals since 2018, including provisional data for the first half of 2022:

Author(s): Robert VerBruggen

Publication Date: 25 Jan 2023

Publication Site: City Journal

Backlash Against ESG Investment Of Taxpayer Money Grows, But Illinois And Chicago Carry On – Wirepoints

Link: https://wirepoints.org/backlash-against-esg-investment-of-taxpayer-money-grows-but-illinois-and-chicago-carry-on-wirepoints/


But those scorned sectors have been the better investments this year, and tech companies have been hammered. Only 31% of actively managed ESG equity funds beat their benchmarks in the first half of 2022, compared to 41% of conventional funds, according to Refinitiv Lipper, as Reuters recently reported. So far this year, 19 of the 20 best-performing companies in the S&P 500 are either fossil-fuel producers or otherwise connected with fossil fuels.

Consequently, ESG funds “have been hit by unprecedented outflows in the market downturn, as investors prioritize capital preservation over goals such as tackling climate change,” wrote Reuters.

Predictably, the issue has become political since state and local officials invest trillions of dollars owned by taxpayers. Republican candidates generally oppose ESG investment of public funds, and five positions — in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada and Wisconsin — flipped from Democratic to Republican in recent races for state auditor, controller or treasurer. Of the 50 directly elected positions, Republicans won 29 and Democrats won 19, according to a recent Roll Call report.

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, however, is among the Democratic officials not backing off on ESG. “We are in it for the long term” is the title of an open letter he recently signed along with 13 other Democratic state financial officers criticizing efforts to stop ESG use of taxpayer money. The letter is astonishingly hypocritical. It says those who want to ban ESG investment of public money are “blacklisting financial firms that don’t agree with their political views.” That, of course, is precisely what ESG does.

Author(s): Mark Glennon

Publication Date:19 Nov 2022

Publication Site: Wirepoints

The most common restaurant cuisine in every state, and a chain-restaurant mystery

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/09/29/chain-restaurant-capitals/



The places that drive the most tend to have the same high share of chain restaurants regardless of whether they voted for Trump or Biden. As car commuting decreases, chain restaurants decrease at roughly the same rate, no matter which candidate most residents supported.

If the link between cars and chains transcends partisanship, why does it look like Trump counties have more chain restaurants? It’s at least in part because he won more of the places with the most car commuters!

About 83 percent of workers commute by car nationally, but only 80 percent of folks in Biden counties do so, compared with 90 percent of workers in Trump counties. The share of car commuters ranges from 55 percent in the deep-blue New York City metro area to 96 percent around bright red Decatur, Ala.

Author(s): Andrew Van Dam

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2022

Publication Site: WaPo

Public retirement plan assets should never be utilized for political purposes

Link: https://reason.org/commentary/public-retirement-plan-assets-should-never-be-utilized-for-political-purposes/


State executives and lawmakers from both major political parties have recently threatened to use public retirement plan assets to address political grievances or push political agendas. Issues ranging from guns to oil and climate change to social media are all being suggested as political targets that should dictate investment strategies for public pension funds. When making arguments for their activist agendas, proponents of these various positions rarely mention how investment restrictions or demands will aid in the basic retirement plan objective of supporting public employees in their retirement years.  

To be clear, public retirement plan assets should never be utilized for political purposes.

Trustees of these public pension plans, and others of influence, are under a clear fiduciary obligation to make decisions with the sole purpose of best meeting the pension plans’ objectives for the benefit of that plan’s participants. There is no ambiguity about this: Activist political agendas have no place in public pensions. To be effective in meeting their objectives, public pension systems must be completely apolitical in their decision-making and in their operations. They cannot be beholden to shifting political winds.   

While this idea seems straightforward, the thought of using these massive investment portfolios to leverage certain political agendas is often too enticing for some politicians to pass up. It is incumbent upon governors, other key stakeholders, and legislative representatives in all states to step up and acknowledge that public retirement assets are out-of-bounds for activist maneuvering. This is critical regardless of where these figures fall on the political spectrum. It is equally important for retirement system trustees and leaders, as well as state treasurers, to stand firm as plan fiduciaries and vigorously oppose any attempts to use plan assets in a way that is not solely directed at benefitting the plan’s participants. 

Author(s): Richard Hiller

Publication Date: 10 June 2022

Publication Site: Reason

The Myth of the Disease-Ridden Red States

Link: https://brownstone.org/articles/the-myth-of-the-disease-ridden-red-states/



Another way of looking at this is to look at the Year over Year change of rates within each group. As you can see from the chart below, the percentage change remains pretty consistent among each individual grouping, with 2020 seeing the largest change rate, and 2021 seeing a small but significant change rate from 2020 (meaning overall mortality was still quite elevated relative to 2019).

In summary, when we take a historical view and higher level view while maintaining these same groupings, these stark differences in Covid-19 mortality rates do not seem to translate into overall morality rates. Why?

At the risk of this analysis turning into another pile-on pointing out the New York Time’s errors, I’d like to offer a more benign explanation. It’s one that has plagued journalists and reports throughout the pandemic. Why is it that everything is framed in Red and Blue? One simple reason: the availability of the data. Leonhardt is using data that is easily accessible and is already formatted for easy analysis.

This is what is called an availability bias. It’s essentially creating a hypothesis or completing a study based on a specific set of data, purely for no other reason than that the data is there. Just because the data is available does not mean it’s the best data to use to try to answer a question.

Author(s): Josh Stevenson

Publication Date: 3 June 2022

Publication Site: Brownstone Institute