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Red and Blue America Aren’t Experiencing the Same Pandemic

The Atlantic interviewed Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, about how the pandemic is being dealt with across the United States. 

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Even a disease as far-reaching as the coronavirus hasn’t entirely crossed the chasm between red and blue America.

In several key respects, the outbreak’s early stages are unfolding very differently in Republican- and Democratic-leaning parts of the country. That disconnect is already shaping, even distorting, the nation’s response to this unprecedented challenge—and it could determine the pandemic’s ultimate political consequences as well.

A flurry of new national polls released this week reveals that while anxiety about the disease is rising on both sides of the partisan divide, Democrats consistently express much more concern about it than Republicans do, and they are much more likely to say they have changed their personal behavior as a result. A similar gap separates people who live in large metropolitan centers, which have become the foundation of the Democratic electoral coalition, from those who live in the small towns and rural areas that are the modern bedrock of the GOP.

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