Speaking at a news briefing Wednesday evening, President Trump tried to make his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic seem better by waving a magic wand: What if you just excluded states that didn’t vote for him in 2016?

“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at” in terms of coronavirus deaths, Trump said. “We’re really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed.”

While it is true that there have been more deaths in blue states than red ones, far more deaths are occurring in red states at this point and have been for months. In fact, the number of deaths in blue and red states are, by now, almost equal, with about 47 percent of all confirmed deaths since the beginning of the pandemic occurring in states that supported Trump.

Regardless, though, this isn’t how it works. With both the pandemic and crime, Trump assumes credit for good news in places with Republican leadership and shifts blame for bad news to places with Democratic leadership. Trump’s effort to simply wave away blue states as somehow not counting as part of America when he doesn’t want to include them is unsurprising but nonetheless cynical.

It’s also probably not a can of worms that Trump wants to open. An America that excludes blue states is an America that looks very different — often in ways that Trump wouldn’t appreciate.

Let’s first assess his original claim, that removing blue-state coronavirus deaths somehow puts the United States in a much better position. It doesn’t.

Here, for example, is data through Tuesday.

Global rank
Deaths per million
Global rank
United States
Red America

Take out the blue states and Red America is still the country with the second-most deaths after Brazil. (In this little thought experiment, both the United States and the collected blue states are excluded from global rankings.) On a per-million basis, the United States’ position in 11th place goes to 15th — a slight but subtle improvement.

What does this Red America look like? It’s a lot smaller in both population and geographic terms.

Global rank
Land area
Global rank
United States
328 million (as of 2019)
3.5 million sq. mi.
Red America
187 million
2.6 million

It’s also a much whiter country, with a far lower density of immigrants.

White non-Hispanic
United States
60 percent
13.7 percent
Red America
64.2 percent
9.8 percent

Exclude the blue states, and the economic picture shifts dramatically.

GDP (Q1)
Global rank
GDP per capita
United States
$21.4 trillion
Red America
$10.6 trillion
3 (including the E.U.)

The employment picture improves somewhat, though a smaller density of the population would be working.

Employed per 100k
Unemployment rate (July)
United States
10.2 percent
Red America
8.8 percent

But it’s otherwise a poorer, less-educated country.

In poverty (2018)
No college degree
United States
13.1 percent
45.8 percent
Red America
14 percent
47.6 percent

It’s also a country with a more quickly increasing deficit, given the extent to which blue states often pay more in taxes than they receive in services.

Pay in taxes
Receive in benefits
Collect per dollar spent
United States
$3.1 trillion
$3.8 trillion
Red America
$1.6 trillion
$2.1 trillion

Then, of course, there are the cultural amenities. Extract blue states, and you lose 42 percent of NHL teams, 43 percent of NBA teams, 44 percent of NFL teams and fully half of Major League Baseball teams — including Trump’s favorite, the New York Yankees.

That’s his favorite team because Trump was, until recently, a New Yorker. But if you take the blue states out of America, suddenly a broad range of Trump-branded properties are excluded from the America Trump wants to lead. Trump Tower? No longer American. His hotel in D.C.? Out. His hotel in Vegas or his club in Bedminster, N.J.? Now foreign territory.

To put this in terms that will be immediately appreciable to Trump, 159 of the 276 visits he has made to Trump-branded properties since being inaugurated will suddenly have meant travel outside the United States. Fully 155 of the 242 rounds of golf he has played at Trump-branded properties will have meant leaving the comfortable confines of Red America and venturing into those fearsome blue states, with their immigrants and high per-capita GDP and Trump Organization properties.

Oh, we would also need to find a new place to put the White House.

Data sources: Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Rockefeller Institute of Government and Kaiser Family Foundation.