Mainers will generally pat themselves on the again from bucking nationwide traits, and relating to politics, there’s loads of proof to again it up. Maine has an impartial spirit and is happy with it.
Nonetheless, this spring, too lots of our associates and neighbors are falling in step with a deadly development, with huge penalties.
Maine is among the finest states by way of its general COVID vaccination efforts. However the fee of giving new pictures has plummeted in latest days. State leaders have provided a number of explanations, however one is, understandably, lacking from the epidemiologists’ present speaking factors: partisanship.
Final week, the state launched detailed charges on vaccination by ZIP code. We’ve got had the possibility to investigate this information and to check it alongside a bunch of different social and demographic information. One rationalization guidelines all others: communities that voted for Donald Trump are systematically much less more likely to get vaccinated.
In Maine, due to our distinctive geography, historic divides, and outdated inhabitants, we lean into all kinds of different explanations. Certainly it’s not as merely as partisanship?
We took a have a look at the most probably explanations, and there’s a little bit of fact to every one. There is a vital rural/city divide, with much less entry to vaccination websites in rural areas. There may be an training hole, and communities with extremely educated populations have largely met, if not exceeded, that legendary heard-immunity objective.
And but, whereas every of those potential explanations helps, they nip on the edges. The state has a bunch of insurance policies to make entry to the vaccine extra equitable, particularly for our working, rural neighbors. No, the information couldn’t be extra clear.
This isn’t a failure of coverage. It’s not about rural Maine or older cities. And this isn’t about some areas of the state getting hit tougher by COVID-19.
Our statistical fashions present an amazing relationship between vaccination charges and what number of residents in that neighborhood supported Donald Trump within the final election.
Diving into our mannequin, if we have a look at the zip codes the place Trump received, on common, vaccination charges are 15 proportion factors decrease than within the locations areas received by Biden. Once more, and that is vital, this disparity holds up even once we management for a bunch of different components, like earnings, age, and training. It even holds up once we introduce the precise variety of COVID circumstances locally.
Certainly, within the 17 cities the place vaccination charges are at their lowest (lower than 40 p.c), Donald Trump’s common degree of assist was a whopping 66 p.c. (Statewide Trump netted 44 p.c.)
There are some notable exceptions. For example, Spruce Head, inhabitants 793, the place 82 p.c of residents supported Trump, has one of many highest vaccination charges within the state. The Trump-supporting cities of Holden, Calais, and Millinocket additionally boast higher-than-average vaccination charges.
However throughout the state, partisanship is the one largest predictor of a neighborhood’s vaccination fee. And which means political leaders, particularly Republican leaders, have a particular obligation to talk to the worth of getting Mainers vaccinated.
We admit making inferences from ZIP code information is fraught. It’s mathematically attainable, as an example, that each Democratic voter in a Trump stronghold is refusing to get a shot. But our fashions are in step with individual-level, nationally consultant surveys that present Republicans are far much less more likely to belief the vaccine’s efficacy, consider that it’s essential to get again to regular, or actively search out out there testing appointments.
Fortunately, Maine is opening again up. However will probably be unimaginable to guard essentially the most susceptible in society except we account for the deep partisan divide roiling throughout the nation and our nice state.
As with all remedy, step one is to diagnose the trigger.
Clear messages from state GOP leaders may assist, but the tide of nationalized politics is powerful. A lot of the nation’s COVID-19 battle – assume mask-wearing – has been wrapped up in our tribalized, partisan identities.
Maine’s tradition is exclusive. Informal observers will take Mainer’s stoicism for egocentric individualism. However under the floor, Mainers care about one another – and so they at all times have.
It’s time to buck the nationwide tide as soon as once more and put Maine first.
— Particular to the Telegram