As 2020 wound down, there were good reasons to believe that the death toll during the pandemic’s first year might have been worse in red America. There were also good reasons to think it might have been worse in blue America.
Conservative areas tend to be older, less prosperous and more hostile to mask wearing, all of which can exacerbate the spread or severity of Covid-19. Liberal areas, for their part, are home both to more busy international airports and more Americans who suffer the health consequences of racial discrimination.
But it turned out that these differences largely offset each other in 2020 — or maybe they didn’t matter as much as some people assumed. Either way, the per capita death toll in blue America and red America was similar by the final weeks of 2020.
It was only a few percentage points higher in counties where Donald Trump had won at least 60 percent of the vote than in counties where Joe Biden crossed that threshold. […]