The GOP’s COVID-19 strategy did not work (but neither did the Democrats’)

By Kent R. Kroeger (March 31, 2021)

A nurse at the San Salvatore Hospital in Pesaro, Italy (Photo by Alberto Giuliani; used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)
Data sources: BEA and
Data source: (Note: LARGE_GATHERINGS_ALLOWED and BARS_OPEN policy indexes are on a 0 to 2 scale with ‘0’ indicating ‘not open or allowed,’ ‘1’ indicating ‘partially open or allowed.’ and ‘2’ indicating ‘open or allowed.’ All other policy indexes are on a 0 to 1 scale)
Data sources: BEA and

The GOP versus Democrat COVID-19 Strategies

A deeper examination of the specific COVID-19 policies employed by each state (using Ballotpedia’s COVID-19 policy database) reveals roughly three COVID-19 policy clusters related to a state’s political party domination:

A mediation model of state-level COVID-19 deaths per capita

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I have used static, two-step mediation models to explain COVID-19 deaths per capita for the 50 U.S. states (and D.C.). To varying degrees, these models have done a reasonable job of explaining most of the state-level variation in COVID-19 death rates per capita (R-squared fit statistics are typically over 80 percent => Example here).

Final Thoughts

It is hard to have productive conversations about the coronavirus anymore. The politics of the crisis have become so deeply embedded in our minds that any time new information contradicts our preferred partisan narrative, we too swiftly discard or denigrate it as ‘conspiracy theory’ chattel.

APPENDIX: Path Model Parameter Estimates

Note: Dataset used for this model is available on GitHub here.

I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at:

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