The Nastiest Question: Does Population Mobility vary by State Political Ideology during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?


We consider the association between state political ideology and population mobility during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We use first-party geo-behavioral data to estimate the average distance traveled by approximately 15,000,000 devices over ten weeks (February 24, 2020 to April 27, 2020). Regression models with state clustered robust standard errors show lower shelter-in-place rates and higher mobility scores in states with larger percentages of voters who supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election. We also find that shelter-in-place rates increased and mobility scores declined at slower rates in states with greater Trump support. Shelter-in-place rates and average mobility scores were comparable in states governed by Republicans and Democrats. There was some evidence that shelter-in-place rates increased and average mobility scores declined at slower rates in states governed by Republicans. Overall, states with more Trump voters are more resistant to public health recommendations and state stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sociological Perspectives, 64(5):786–803
Kelsey E. Gonzalez, PhD
Kelsey E. Gonzalez, PhD
Sr Data Scientist

Data Scientist; Computational Social Scientist.