In the media, a prevalent narrative is that the incumbent United States President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 elections because of the way he handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Quantitative evidence to support this narrative is, however, limited. We put forward a spatial, information-theoretic approach to critically examine the link between voting behavior and COVID-19 incidence in the 2020 presidential elections. The approach overcomes classical limitations of traditional regression analysis, where it does not require an underlying mathematical model and it can capture nonlinear interactions. From the analysis of county-level data, we uncovered a robust association between voting behavior and prevalence of COVID-19 cases. Surprisingly, such an association points in the opposite direction from the accepted narrative: in counties that experienced less COVID-19 cases, the incumbent President lost more ground to his opponent, now President Joseph R. Biden Jr. A tenable explanation of this observation is the different attitude of liberal and conservative voters toward the pandemic, which led to more COVID-19 spreading in counties with a larger share of republican voters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry