We are therefore no longer surprised when we see data like this, from a new poll conducted by CNN: Eighty-seven percent of those who plan to vote for former vice president Joe Biden are very or somewhat concerned about the pandemic. Seventy-one percent of Trump voters aren’t.
To some extent, this is also a function of how views of the pandemic first emerged. The first hot spots were in California, Washington and New York. In New York City in April, thousands of people were dying a day. The pandemic was centered in cities in blue states, and red state residents, particularly in rural areas, seemed less concerned about the virus.
That changed in early June. By then — shortly before Vice President Pence infamously boasted about the administration’s success in combating the virus — more new cases were emerging in states that supported Trump in 2016 than in those which voted for Hillary Clinton.
When the pandemic was at its high, about three-quarters of new cases were in red states. Now, about 7 in 10 new cases are in red states.
It’s still the case, though, that many of those new cases are in blue counties. While more new cases are emerging in states that voted for Trump, those outbreaks were often in places that voted for Clinton.
But here, too, there’s been a shift. For the first time, about half of new cases are also in counties that voted for Trump.
We’re using seven-day averages of new cases here because daily case reporting can be spotty. Using this metric, there was an average of 20,345 new cases on Wednesday in counties Clinton won and 20,117 in counties Trump won. If we instead used newly reported cases on Wednesday itself, there were 1,600 more new cases in red counties.
We can look at the shift at the county level in another way. Until May, most of the new cases in red states were in counties that voted for Clinton. Since mid-June, it’s been red counties in red states that have been the main source of newly confirmed coronavirus cases.
You’ve probably noticed a recent increase in red counties. That’s in part a function of a sharp increase in reported cases in Iowa. The increase in that state is heavily a function of increases in three counties: Polk, the most populous county in the state, and Johnson and Story counties, which are home to two large public universities.
As of Aug. 28, more than 900 students at the University of Iowa had been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Other universities that had hoped to allow in-person instruction have scaled back those plans or switched to virtual classes.
One of the voices calling for schools to reopen this fall, of course, was Trump.