Voting Republican could be hazardous to your health, especially if you live in a county that Donald Trump won. That’s the latest contribution to junk social science, this one brought to us by the distinguished British Medical Journal.
The authors tell us that counties that voted for GOP presidential candidates between 2000 and 2016 had smaller reductions in age-adjusted mortality rates over the past two decades than counties that backed their Democratic rivals.
Before the Biden administration requires presidential ballots to bear a surgeon general’s warning (“Voting Republican kills!”), it’s worth giving the study a closer look.
Its first and most obvious flaw is that hundreds of counties switched party preferences over the course of those five presidential elections. Then-Vice President Al Gore may have carried a given county in 2000, followed by then-Sen. John Kerry in 2004, and then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, but if Trump prevailed in 2016, its age-adjusted mortality reduction for the 2001-2019 period would be assigned to the GOP column.
This is a significant defect. Democrats carried 673 counties in 2000, but just 490 in 2016. Trump carried 2,622 in 2016, according to the study. Thus, the study classifies 183 counties that voted for Gore in 2000 as Republican in 2019 in measuring mortality changes over the 2001-2019 period.
The list of counties that backed one party or the other fluctuated over the five election cycles. Democrats won 673 counties in 2000 and 874 in 2008 before plunging to 490 in 2016. The list of counties the study compares is thus wildly inconsistent, rendering its findings suspect.
The authors also looked at a subset of counties that voted consistently for Republicans or Democrats in all five presidential contests. The results of that analysis were underwhelming.
Age-adjusted mortality in large metro counties fell by an identical 1.4% of residents between 2001 and 2019, whether those counties voted Democratic or Republican in all five elections. Small to midsize metro areas that backed Democrats in those five races had declines of 0.9% over that period, compared with 0.8% in comparable areas that voted Republican.
That difference isn’t statistically significant. The differences in rural counties are larger, but the confidence intervals (similar to the margin of error or +/- in public opinion polls) intersect, suggesting that the differences may be due to chance. The increased urbanization of the Democratic Party and the GOP’s growing appeal to rural America might well explain the differences in mortality rate changes.
Despite Democratic nominees carrying 183 fewer counties in 2016 than in 2000, Joe Biden won more large urban counties than Gore. He prevailed in 156 large urban counties with a combined total of nearly 134 million residents, compared with just 46 million in such counties that backed Trump, giving Biden almost a 3-1 advantage in that category.
More than three-fourths of residents in counties that backed Biden lived in large metro areas, compared with just 32% for Trump. Residents in rural counties that Trump won outnumbered those in rural Biden counties by nearly 8 to 1. Just 5.4 million lived in rural counties that backed Biden, making up just 3% of the residents in counties he carried.
In short, the differences the authors cite may well be explained by something we already know; namely, that Trump’s strength is in rural counties, where health status is poorer and life expectancies are shorter, while Biden’s power base is in urban centers, where medical care is generally state of the art.
Looking at the counties that voted consistently for the same party over all five presidential election cycles yields other anomalies. For example, average age-adjusted mortality for blacks declined by an identical 1.4% in both Democratic and Republican counties. Mortality among Hispanics fell by 1.6% in GOP counties, compared with just 1.3% in Democratic counties, although the confidence intervals overlap.
The only statistically significant difference is in mortality rate reductions among whites, which dropped by 1.0% over the period in Democratic counties, compared with 0.6% in Republican counties.
Do the authors believe that voting patterns produce reverse health inequities? Design flaws and anomalies aside, the study is—at best—silly. It deploys dodgy statistical legerdemain to make a political point.
Absurdities abound. Are people who vote for a Democrat more likely to die because a Republican carried his or her county? Is it safe to vote Republican so long as you live in a county that reliably backs Democrats?
To their credit, the authors acknowledge that they could not “explain the link between political environment and mortality, and the direction of this association.” Or whether there is any such link at all. The British Medical Journal has published many studies that have advanced human knowledge and contributed to better medical care.
This isn’t one of them.
Article cross-posted from Daily Signal.
Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
To those who have the means, we ask that you please donate. We have options available now, but there is no telling when those options will cancel us. We just launched a new GiveSendGo page. We also have our GivingFuel page. There have been many who have been canceled by PayPal, but for now it’s still an option. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!
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JD Rucker – EIC