BMC Public Health. 2022 Nov 24;22(1):2163. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-14545-3.
BACKGROUND: Based on individual-level studies, previous literature suggested that conservatives and liberals in the United States had different perceptions and behaviors when facing the COVID-19 threat. From a state-level perspective, this study further explored the impact of personal political ideology disparity on COVID-19 transmission before and after the emergence of Omicron.
METHODS: A new index was established, which depended on the daily cumulative number of confirmed cases in each state and the corresponding population size. Then, by using the 2020 United States presidential election results, the values of the built index were further divided into two groups concerning the political party affiliation of the winner in each state. In addition, each group was further separated into two parts, corresponding to the time before and after Omicron predominated. Three methods, i.e., functional principal component analysis, functional analysis of variance, and function-on-scalar linear regression, were implemented to statistically analyze and quantify the impact.
RESULTS: Findings reveal that the disparity of personal political ideology has caused a significant discrepancy in the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. Specifically, the findings show that at the very early stage before the emergence of Omicron, Democratic-leaning states suffered from a much greater severity of the COVID-19 threat but, after July 2020, the severity of COVID-19 transmission in Republican-leaning states was much higher than that in Democratic-leaning states. Situations were reversed when the Omicron predominated. Most of the time, states with Democrat preferences were more vulnerable to the threat of COVID-19 than those with Republican preferences, even though the differences decreased over time.
CONCLUSIONS: The individual-level disparity of political ideology has impacted the nationwide COVID-19 transmission and such findings are meaningful for the government and policymakers when taking action against the COVID-19 crisis in the United States.