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Home » The Republicans vs Democrats divide in COVID-19 vaccination

The Republicans vs Democrats divide in COVID-19 vaccination

A new analysis of voting patterns and vaccination status shows that the partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats is a greater predictor of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance than just about any other demographic factor. For many of us, this is not a surprising result.

The Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed (using county-level vaccination data from the CDC compared to the 2020 vote by county) differences between Republicans and Democrats in choosing COVID-19 vaccination. It might not surprise anyone that Biden-leaning counties (in the 2020 election) are more vaccinated than Trump-leaning counties.

Let’s look at the key results.

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Republicans vs Democrats on COVID-19 vaccination

The Kaiser Family Foundation

  • Biden counties continue to have higher COVID-19 vaccination rates than Trump counties. Over 65% of individuals in counties won by Joe Biden (henceforth known as Biden counties) were fully vaccinated versus 52% of those counties won by Donald Trump (Trump counties).
  • The gap between Biden and Trump counties has widened over time. There is a gap of 13.2 percentage points between the share fully vaccinated in Biden counties versus Trump counties as of January 2022. The difference was about 12 percentage points in the last few months of 2021.
  • There is no gap between Biden and Trump counties in the share of the fully vaccinated with booster doses. At the same time, the share of fully vaccinated individuals who have received a booster dose is the same (37%) in each group.
  • Still, given the underlying gap in vaccination rates, there is also a gap in the share who are boosted across the two groups, and that gap has been widening over time. In December 2021, the share of those in Biden counties with boosters was 16% compared to 14% in Trump counties, a 2 percentage point difference. By January 2022, the gap between the two groups had widened to a 6-point difference, with 25% of those in Biden counties with boosters compared to 19% of those in Trump counties.


This data is in line with the research that showed that:

  1. Groups who were opposed to vaccines and had lower vaccination rates had higher excess deaths than those who accepted the vaccines. These groups tended to be in Trump counties
  2. The Republican antipathy towards COVID-19 vaccines led to those voters having higher excess deaths than Democratic voters.

Until this pandemic, vaccines were not a political issue. Even though Republicans were slightly less supportive of vaccines, both Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly supported vaccines. Pre-pandemic, there were many “progressives” that were anti-vaccine. The COVID-19 pandemic upended the political discourse about vaccines.

The divide between right and left on COVID-19 vaccines is creating an ersatz Social Darwinism experiment that is a life-or-death choice between vaccinating and protecting a group from a deadly disease or refusing the vaccine and putting the group at risk for the deadly disease.

On the other hand, the data still shows that the vaccination rate between Biden and Trump counties is not huge, but it is growing over time. Any uptick in the rate of death and infection may bring loads of people back to getting the vaccines.

Stay tuned.

Michael Simpson

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