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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

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

Wallace J, Goldsmith-Pinkham P, Schwartz JL. 
JAMA Intern Med. 
Published online July 24, 2023.

Key Points


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


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.


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.

My Take

Beliefs are a powerful force that can influence our health behaviors. Our beliefs about health, illness, and the causes of disease can shape our decisions about what we eat, how much we exercise, and whether or not we see a doctor when we're sick.

There is a growing body of research that suggests that beliefs can have a significant impact on health outcomes. For example, one study found that people who believe that they have a strong sense of purpose in life tend to live longer than those who do not. Another study found that people who believe in a higher power tend to be more optimistic and have a more positive outlook on life, which can lead to better mental health, which can in turn have a positive impact on physical health.  However, certain beliefs may be harmful to health and longevity.

The study suggest that beliefs may play a role in the relationship between political party affiliation and excess death rates. For example, Republicans are more likely to hold beliefs that are associated with vaccine hesitancy, such as distrust of government and the medical establishment. These beliefs may have contributed to the lower vaccination rates among Republican-registered voters, which in turn may have led to higher excess death rates.