Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Voters who live in areas with more COVID-19 deaths are at least somewhat less likely to support President Donald Trump and other Republican candidates in the 2020 election, according to a study published Friday.
Researchers said the findings provide the first "clear causal evidence" that the rise in COVID-19 deaths have turned some Americans away from Trump.
Using "granular" data sources such as local-level information on deaths and voter attitude surveys, the researchers concluded that higher death counts are translating into softer support for Trump and other GOP candidates.
"States and local areas with higher levels of COVID-19 fatalities are less likely to support President Trump and Republican candidates for House and Senate. Our results show that [they] would benefit electorally from a reduction in COVID-19 fatalities," wrote authors Christopher Warshaw of George Washington University and Lynn Vavreck and Ryan Baxter-King, both of the University of California, Los Angeles.
"This implies that a greater emphasis on social distancing, masks, and other mitigation strategies would benefit the president and his allies."
The study found that Americans who live in counties where COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents had doubled in the previous 30 days were 0.14% less likely to support Trump. Where deaths doubled at the on a statewide level, voters were almost 0.4% less likely.
The researchers tapped data compiled by The New York Times to measure variations in the magnitude of the pandemic across the United States, as well as more than 300,000 survey responses gathered by the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project, between mid-2019 and this summer, to measure how attitudes have shifted.
While the difference might seem small and perhaps insignificant, Warshaw said history indicates that the COVID-19 effect could have some impact.
"The margin between Trump and Clinton in the state of Michigan in 2016 was 0.23%," he noted.