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Counties where more people died of so-called deaths of despair — from alcohol or drug abuse and suicide — voted more heavily for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, new research shows.
A county-by-county analysis of death rates, causes of death and voting patterns shows that the death rate was nearly 8 percent higher between 2000 and 2015 in counties where Trump won the majority.
It was 15 percent higher in counties that swung more heavily Republican than in 2008, a team at Columbia University said Wednesday.
“Death rates may be important markers of the dissatisfaction, discouragement, hopelessness, and fear of cultural displacement that contributed to President Trump’s appeal, especially to the non-urban, white working class, Dr. Lee Goldman, chief executive of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
“It’s commonly argued that President Trump won by receiving more votes from people who have been left behind economically — especially older, less-educated, and less-urban, white voters,” Goldman said in a statement.
“Based on our data, we can also say that changes in life expectancy were an independent factor in voting choices.”