Which States Lead in Underperformance During the Pandemic and Why?
In our earlier analysis we compared unemployment, with Republican states doing better, and COVID deaths, with Democratic states doing better. In the third part of our multi-part series, we compare the combination of the two by generating a score combining the two factors. Here Republican states outperformed their Democratic counterparts. Today we dig into which states generated this underperformance.
During the first part of our analysis, we collected the monthly unemployment numbers for every state from the beginning of the pandemic. We then collected the data for the governor of each state and the party of each governor. We took the average and population-weighted average of both Democrat and Republican states and plotted them on a time series.
For the second part of our analysis, we collected the monthly death per million numbers for every state from the beginning of the pandemic. We then collected the data for the governor of each state and the party of each governor. We took the average death per million of both Democrat and Republican states and plotted them on a time series.
For the third part of our analysis, we created a grading system that would help to compare the differences in strategies employed by different states. To do this we took our monthly results from both studies and multiplied them by each other.
Today we break down these scores and analyze them on a by state and by state and month basis to see where most of the underperformance was generated.
First, we broke our pandemic performance score down by state. In the graphics below the darker the color the more the state underperformed. A higher score is worse. When we do this, we can see that New York (17) and New Jersey (19), both Democratic states, underperformed most of any state. The closest underperforming Republican state was Massachusetts (12) and Mississippi (11). The Democratic states of Louisiana (12), Rhode Island (12), Connecticut (11), and Nevada (11) underperformed as much as Massachusetts and Mississippi. It’s pretty clear that New York and Rhode Island contributed to Democratic underperformance than any other state.
Next, we broke the performance score down by month for each state. Here we can review when these states underperformed the most. Looking at New York and New Jersey we can see their largest underperformance occurred early in the pandemic, in May 2020, with New Jersey underperforming substantially until August 2020 and New York doing so until July 2020. We can also see that both Connecticut, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Louisiana also underperformed during May and June of 2020. The Republican states of Massachusetts and Indiana also appeared to underperform during May and June 2020.
Finally, we broke this heatmap down into its components; unemployment and deaths per million. Here we can see that both New Jersey and New York underperformed massively in deaths and moderately in unemployment early in the pandemic leading to the highest observed scores. One item we found interesting is that Michigan and Nevada also underperformed early in the pandemic. However, it was not directly due to the virus. The virus in those states was moderate and light during the early pandemic. Unemployment, however, was very high leading to those states’ underperformance. We can only opine that this is related to the auto industry shutdowns and service industry shutdowns. Hawaii also had extreme unemployment, again, likely too early, and strict lockdowns. Notably, here, Democrat states’ unemployment tended to last much longer.
We also saw some Republican states underperform. Outside of Massachusetts, the majority of this did not appear until early 2021, in January and February. These tended to be virus-related and not unemployment-related, mainly in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Arizona. California, Rhode Island, and New Mexico also underperformed during this same period due to COVID deaths.
Democrat states did underperform, and we can find that it was through a combination of early pandemic deaths and longer than normal unemployment.