Also listen to the analysis in the audio version.
American society faces deeper political polarization. It manifests itself in the solution of burning problems – be it the possession of arms, abortion or, for example, immigration. And over the past two years, this has also been reflected in attitudes towards the coronavirus pandemic, which has also become the focus of disinformation campaigns.
As an analysis by US public service broadcaster NPR has shown, there is a direct link between willingness to get vaccinated and voting in the last presidential election.
In areas of the United States where people elected former Republican President Donald Trump, NPR has low vaccination rates. And also a higher number of victims of covid-19.
The outlet illustrates how political polarization and misinformation are reflected in the development of the pandemic in the United States. The NRP has analyzed the deaths of about 100,000 people in some 3,000 districts across the United States – from the time vaccines first became available to the general public until the fall of this year.
According to the analysis, people living in districts that voted 60% or more for Trump have nearly three times the risk of dying from covid-19 compared to those in parts of the United States where Americans voted for. Democrat Biden.
Republicans are more likely to believe misinformation
The association of electoral preferences with a higher or lower number of covid-19 victims goes hand in hand with vaccination rates. It should be noted that the analysis did not examine individual victims and their electoral history separately, it focused only on the election results of entire constituencies. But the disparity between vaccinations and deaths in the Republican and Democratic areas is stark.
Recent data from a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation think tank also shows that Republicans make up the largest proportion of the unvaccinated US population. It is also between them that the most misinformation circulates concerning pandemics and vaccinations.
“An unvaccinated person in the United States is three times more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat,” said the organization’s Liz Hamel. “If I had to guess whether someone had the vaccine or not, and could only ask them one thing, I would like to know who they choose,” she added.
Disinformation campaigns play an important role in this. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, Republicans believe the most in false information about Covid-19. The study found that 94% of Republicans surveyed believe one or more misrepresentations. Almost half (46%) thought four or more – among Democrats, that was just 14% of respondents.
“When you think the vaccine may affect your fertility, that it has microchips in it, and that the government is inflating the death toll from coronavirus, then you are really thinking about whether to get vaccinated, in a completely different way” , Hamelová told NPR.
Germany: the most infected where the far right voted
However, the link between political affiliation and attitudes towards the covid-19 pandemic is also legible in Europe. For example, German researchers studied the situation in the border town of Bad Schandau, which borders the Czech Republic. And where coronavirus measures protested in recent weeks and violent attacks on police officers took place.
It is the stronghold of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party – in recent Bundestag elections the group won nearly 32% of the vote. So, above all, above all. And, as the German weekly Der Spiegel wrote in November, in places where the far right enjoys strong support, measures are not being taken well. And the number of infected people there is increasing sharply.
The media refers to a study by the German Research Institute for Social Cohesion. This shows with mathematical precision that there is a direct link between the level of support for the AfD and the spread of covid-19: the higher the number of votes won by this far-right party in the 2017 elections, the faster the covid-19. 19 spread in the region in 2020. Bad Schandau and therefore the whole of Saxony have some of the highest numbers of infected in the whole country.
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder also commented. “We have two viruses. One is the coronavirus, the other is this toxic skepticism about the vaccine, which is spreading enormously due to the Querdenker movement. (pandemic deniers, anti-vaxxers and rejectionist measures, *editors’ note) and far-right parties like the AfD,” he said on a German talk show.