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The worse a community’s health the more strongly its voters backed Donald Trump in the 2016 election compared to their support for Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, researchers reported on Monday.

The findings suggest that public health “might influence” how people vote, said Dr. Jason Wasfy of Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the study, which looked at factors such as death rates, diabetes prevalence, and teen pregnancy. “The communities that shifted from Romney to Trump in general have worse public health.”


Some political psychologists dismissed that association as probably the result of too much data dredging leading to spurious correlations — such as, famously, that the decline in the divorce rate in Maine is almost perfectly correlated with the decline in margarine consumption.

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  • the fact that Trump ran as a populist, rather than a typical Republican like Romney, is what won the day for him. If Clinton had run against a typical Republican like Romney, I believe she would have won. However almost none of that populism has translated to concrete action yet beyond his support for white nationalism and trying to eradicate or strangle every environmental regulation and law.
    Sorry, but regardless of what the authors say I have to believe community health correlates with income, education, intelligence and economic prospects. In a rapidly changing economy all of this leads to anger and despair, which tees people up to need someone (i.e., groups of “others”) to blame. Trump is good at playing that card.

  • This is an intriguing post. It would be interesting for clinicians, researchers, Big Data nerds, and journalists to go beyond the obvious factors of diet and nutrition, exercise, obesity, substance abuse, etc. when looking at health and public health factors correlated with economic success, psychological behavior, and political outlook.

    There has been growing attention in recent years on the microbiome, on the gut as the “second brain,” and its pervasive influence on psychological as well as physical health. A hugely overlooked factor in gut, physical and psychological health is the dental domain. Dental materials “not right” for one’s immune system, decaying teeth, and anaerobic infections that can result from root canals or extractions have a major impact on health. Accumulation of fungal and bacterial toxins and heavy metals fuel systemic inflammation and chronic diseases. An unhealthy gut microbiome leads to an unhealthy brain. This impedes ability to work productively, and fuels pain, stress, anger, anxiety, depression, fear, paranoia, and resentment.

    Time to add dental health status and materials into medical records, Big Data and regression analysis to gain a more robust view of health and behavior. And if we added dental into health coverage where it belongs, we might make significant gains in public health and lower escalating health, disability, and long-term care costs.

  • I have recently read an piece my Atul Gawande in The New Yorker “Is Health Care a Right?”
    It makes we wonder whether the reason that voters in these counties chose to vote for Trump was because when they looked around themselves (as opposed to at themselves) they saw so many people that were taking more out of the system than were putting into the system.
    It would also be interesting to know the correlation between voters’ health indicators and ‘white without a college degree’.

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