More Republicans Are Dying Prematurely Than Democrats-- And The Gap Is Widening

A new Marist poll for NPR shows support for real gun control-- which Republicans in the Senate have completely ruled out-- has risen substantially. Normal Americans (59%) say it is more important to control gun violence than to protect gun rights (35%). Normal people-- 92% of Democrats and 54% of independents-- say it's more important to control gun violence, while 70% of Republicans say it's more important to protect gun rights. The pollsters also say that "About three-quarters of respondents said mass shootings make them more likely to vote in November. Democrats are almost 20 points more likely to say so than Republicans and independents (84%, vs. 65% for Republicans and 66% for independents). Majorities of voters said they would definitely vote for candidates who want to increase mental health funding (86%), require stricter background checks (82%), support red flag laws (74%), want stricter gun laws generally (60%) and ban assault-style weapons, like AK-47s and AR-15s (56%).

It's odd-- Republicans always seem to support death, not just strangers' deaths but even their own deaths. I came across an interesting piece from STAT, A growing gap in premature deaths along party lines underscores the collision of politics and public health. The point being made by Haider Warraich is that conservatives-- almost by definition-- don't seem to be too concerned with the whole concept of public health. "[T]he Supreme Court’s impending repeal of Roe v. Wade, the spike in gun violence across the country, and the stark partisan divide on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, are putting public health on a collision course with politics."

A study shows that "people in counties that voted for Republican presidential candidates were more likely to die prematurely than those in counties that voted for Democratic candidates, and the gap has grown sixfold over the last two decades. We found similar results when we looked only at counties that voted for one party’s candidate throughout that period, as well as when we used state election data for governors. As death rates in Democratic counties declined 22% between 2001 to 2019, Republican counties saw only an 11% decline, with almost no improvement since 2008."

The gap in death rates between urban and rural areas is wide-- and widening. But regardless of whether they looked at urban or rural areas, "people living in areas with Republican political preferences were more likely to die prematurely than those in areas with Democratic political preferences. There was no single cause of death driving this lethal wedge: The death rate due to all 10 of the most common causes of death has widened between Republican and Democratic areas."

The easiest explanation is that Republicans, by their very nature are evil, vile people who deserve premature deaths and God is smiting them down for the rest of humanity. COVID seems to prove that point. People with low IQs-- which includes the vast majority of Republicans-- are most likely to not get vaccinated or practice social distancing or wear masks. And they get COVID and when they do they are most likely to get sick enough to be hospitalized and to die.

Even today, the disparity between Democratic counties and Republican counties is unbelievable. Look at the difference in vaccination rates between a dozen counties that voted overwhelmingly for Biden and a dozen counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Biden first:

  • Prince George's County, MD- 89.3% Biden (76% fully vaccinated)

  • New York County, NY- 86.7% Biden (80% fully vaccinated)

  • San Francisco County, CA- 85.3% Biden (84% fully vaccinated)

  • Jefferson County, MS- 85.1% Biden (72% fully vaccinated)

  • Clayton County, GA- 84.9% Biden (44% fully vaccinated)

  • Bronx County, NY- 83.4% Biden (80% fully vaccinated)

  • DeKalb County, GA- 83.1% Biden (57% fully vaccinated)

  • Orleans County, LA- 83.1% Biden (70% fully vaccinated)

  • Marin County, CA- 82.3% Biden (89% fully vaccinated)

  • Menominee County, WI- 81.9% Biden (81% fully vaccinated)

  • Arlington County, VA- 80.6% Biden (72% fully vaccinated)

  • Alameda County, CA- 80.2% Biden (83% fully vaccinated)

And here are some heavily Trump counties, home to some of the absolute the dumbest, most willfully ignorant and least evolved people in the Western Hemisphere. you want to die prematurely? Go live in one of these counties:

  • King County, TX- 95.0% Trump (24% fully vaccinated)

  • Garfield County, MT- 94.0% Trump (20% fully vaccinated)

  • Grant County, NE- 93.3% Trump (21% fully vaccinated)

  • Hayes County, NE- 92.2% Trump (26% fully vaccinated)

  • Cimarron County, OK- 92.0% Trump (33% fully vaccinated)

  • Arthur County, NE- 91.2% Trump (20% fully vaccinated)

  • McPherson County, NE- 91.1% Trump (15% fully vaccinated)

  • Loving County, TX- 90.9% Trump (20% fully vaccinated)

  • Cameron Parish, LA- 90.6% Trump (18% fully vaccinated)

  • Winston County, AL- 90.3% Trump (22% fully vaccinated)

  • Slope County, ND- 89.0% Trump (11% fully vaccinated)

  • Crook County, WY- 88.6% Trump (31% fully vaccinated)

Sorry... back to Warraich's report for STAT. The study found that the gap in mortality between red areas and blue areas "appeared to particularly widen after 2008, which corresponds to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, a major part of which was Medicaid expansion... Medicaid expansion led to significant gains in health insurance among at-risk individuals and was associated with widespread improvements in health outcomes, including saving lives. The effect has been particularly notable in rural areas, where Medicaid expansion has helped mitigate rural hospital closures... [R]ural Republican counties have the highest death rates and have experienced the least improvement over time. Yet many Republican states have resisted Medicaid expansion, and decisions like this and a general underinvestment in public health by Republican governors might be the reason behind the growing Democratic-Republican mortality gap."

Health behaviors are becoming increasingly enmeshed in political identity, as the pandemic has highlighted, and those could also be at play. What is perhaps most telling in our study is that while both Black and Hispanic Americans experienced largely similar gains in health regardless of what political environment they lived in, with Black residents of Democratic areas experiencing the greatest reduction in deaths rates of any major racial-ethnic group, the sharpest divide is seen among white Americans. In fact, the fourfold growth in the gap in death rates between white residents of Democratic and Republican areas seems to be driving most of the overall expanding chasm between Democratic and Republican areas.
For clinicians and researchers, the message is clear: We can no longer pretend that politics doesn’t permeate American health care and policy. While the separation of medicine and politics is aspirational, particularly in the U.S., that ship has sailed and, as our paper reveals, has been sailing for at least the last two decades. While medical journals now frequently focus on social drivers of health, our analysis highlights the need to also account for the political drivers that affect Americans’ health.