A debate has been brewing about whether the mainstream media has over-emphasized vaccine refusal among Republicans and not paid enough attention to vaccine hesitancy and refusal black and Hispanic minorities. Lt Gov Dan Patrick of Texas challenged Democrats to do a better job of promoting vaccination among the black population and the comic blow up between Nicki Minaj and Joy Reid over vaccine hesitancy in the black community is a good example of the heightened “concern” about vaccination rates among minorities.
But the much more significant racial gap in vaccination is WITHIN the white population rather than between whites and blacks. Conservatives like Dan Patrick were arguing that “whites as a whole” had a higher vaccination rate than the black population as a whole. But that’s not even true. An August 24, 2021 NBC poll had the black vaccination rate at 76% and the white rate at 66%.
Here’s an abbreviated breakdown by demographic group, white and black rates in bold:
- All adults: 69 percent
- Men: 67 percent
- Women: 71 percent
- Whites: 66 percent
- Blacks: 76 percent
- Latinos: 71 percent
- White evangelicals: 59 percent
- Democrats: 88 percent
- Independents: 60 percent
- Republicans: 55 percent
- Republicans who support Trump more than party: 46 percent
- Republicans who support party more than Trump: 62 percent
- Democratic Sanders-Warren voters: 88 percent
- Democratic Biden voters: 87 percent
- Biden voters in 2020 general election: 91 percent
- Trump voters in 2020 general election: 50 percent
Even though NBC does not give a straight partisan breakdown of the white population, it’s pretty clear that white Democrats have a vaccination rate well-over 90% while white Republicans are in the low to mid 50’s. This hypothetical 40% difference between White Democrats and White Republicans tracks across the partisan numbers of Democrats (88%), Democratic Biden voters (87), and Biden voters (91%) as well. Republicans (55%), especially Trump voting Republicans (50%) have low vaccination rates and are the primary reason for the Delta surge over the last two months. To the contrary, white Democrats are more aligned with the Black and Hispanic populations than they are with white Republicans.
The yawning gap between white Democrats and white Republicans is an underestimated and crucial cultural and political fact in American life. In terms of vaccination, the 40% gap between white Republicans and white Democrats is significantly larger than the difference between both Republicans and blacks and Republicans and Hispanics. The alienation of rural white conservative from the multiracial, socially liberal Democrats has been investigated at enormous length. Sometimes it seems that no diner in Middle America has gone unvisited by political journalists. But there has been practically no writing on the white Democratic side of the divide and an almost total embargo on interviews with white Biden voters.
My own speculation is that the mainstream media really doesn’t want to know the withering contempt with which many center-left white Democrats regard Republicans. But the differences between the two separate and mutually opposed white groups are important to understand. There are broad journalistic ideas that white Democrats pay more attention to the mainstream media, have less racial hostility toward black people and Hispanics, are more supportive of education, feminism, and gay rights, and more oriented toward the authority of science than white Republicans. But part of what’s now driving the culture and politics of white Democrats is their (our) hostility to white Republicans and that needs to be investigated in much more detail. Joy Reid often refers to conservatives as Earth 2, but white people in Earth 1 need to be better understood.