A flag reading "The Mask Is As Useless As Joe Biden" along with the American flag is seen in La Mesa on Jan 21. 2023.
A flag reading "The Mask Is As Useless As Joe Biden" along with the American flag is seen in La Mesa on Jan 21. 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Journalism won’t die if you donate. Support Voice of San Diego today!

Differences in political leanings aren’t just a matter of intellectual debate. They can have deadly consequences. 

San Diego County Republicans were significantly more likely to die during the second year of the pandemic than Democrats, a new analysis by Voice of San Diego found. 

Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx matched thousands of local death records to San Diego County’s voter roll to learn the political affiliation of those who died. 

Their new report highlights the way Covid’s victims changed significantly before and after Covid vaccines became widely available. Democrats were more likely to die during the first year of the pandemic, when the virus was hitting communities of color with more multigenerational housing, particularly in South Bay, the hardest. But that changed in year two. The virus began claiming more casualties in conservative-leaning ZIP codes on the eastern edges of the metro.

In year two of the pandemic, Republicans died at a significantly higher rate than Democrats — after vaccines became widely available. Voters who decline to identify with a party also saw a higher rate of death than Democrats.

Researchers and public health specialists pointed to vaccine resistance and distrust in government as two of the biggest reasons for the widely differing death rates along political lines.

How we got here: Voice of San Diego sued San Diego County — and won — in order to gain access to local Covid death certificates. Reporters then spent months manually logging each one into a database. They then matched the names of people who died with Covid against public voter files.

Other prominent reports have surmised an increased death rate among Republicans by comparing voting patterns to Covid death rates. They left unanswered the question of whether actual Democrats or Republicans were dying. But Voice’s analysis matched the names of those who died to their actual political party affiliation.

Read our new story in its entirety here. And catch up on the entire series.

Politics Report: San Diego Hiring Private Workers to Streamline Permit Process 

Mayor Todd Gloria delivers 2023 State of the City address at the Civic Theatre on Jan. 10, 2023.
Mayor Todd Gloria delivers 2023 State of the City address at the Civic Theatre on Jan. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

City of San Diego workers are severely behind in processing building permits and now the mayor, with the employee union’s support, hopes new, temporary workers can help the city reduce the delays holding back projects during a housing crisis.

Happening today: The City Council will vote on two separate $2.5 million contracts with third-party companies to help city staff review applications for new developments.

Those contracts are seen as a stopgap solution to a massive backlog of permit applications that has built up since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Read the full story in the Politics Report here.

Note: We opened up this post to all readers. If you want access to the weekly newsletter, available exclusively to Voice members, support our journalism today. 

VOSD Podcast: In the latest podcast episode, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña discuss the San Diego City Council’s declaration on housing being a human right. As our hosts explain, the resolution didn’t change any politics and isn’t legally binding. So, what gives? 

Listen to the episode here or wherever you get your pods. 

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Will Huntsberry and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Regarding death rates from COVID between Democrats and Republicans: What a stupid article, and a waste of time unearthing this data, you should be ashamed.

  2. Thank you for publishing the facts about pandemic deaths in SD county. Great investigative journalism 👏

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.