California governor recall results: Now we know how many Americans love to be locked down?

When friends who don’t follow #Science (most have MDs and/or PhDs) ask why U.S. state governors (except for the infidels in South Dakota and Florida) have generally ordered lockdowns, masks, and other measures that were considered useless against respiratory viruses through 2019, my standard answer is “They’re politicians so the best answer is that they’re doing what voters want them to do. If governors order people to wrap a saliva-soaked bandana around their mouths as a disease preventive, we can infer that the majority of Americans want governors to order bandanas.” (A European friend: “The sheep demand a shepherd.”)

Is it fair to say that the result of the referendum on keeping lock-down-the-peasants-while-dining-with-friends Gavin Newsom (66 percent in favor) tells us the percentage of Americans who want and/or need governor-directed lockdowns?

To extrapolate these numbers to the U.S., of course, we’d have to adjust for Democrat/Republican percentages. Presidents Biden and Harris won 63.5 percent of Californians’ votes in 2020. So we can presume that, in any given state, the percentage of people who want to be locked down is roughly 3 percentage points more than the percentage who voted for Biden/Harris.

(What have been the effects of California’s 1.5 years of lockdown, school closure, mask orders, etc.? On the leaderboard of states by COVID-19-tagged death rate, California has turned in a middling performance, with about 1,700 deaths per million (170). That’s a worse performance than “do almost nothing because the virus won’t care” Sweden (1,429 per million). Beach-closed schools-closed California has a 25 percent lower unadjusted-for-age death rate than no-mask-order, bars-open, indoor everything open, schools-open Florida, portrayed currently in the media as the Land of Certain COVID-19 Death (12/50 in the state-by-state ranking, with roughly 2,270 deaths per million). That’s success, right, since we’re measuring overall success of a society by a single number (COVID-19 death rate) and 1,700 is less than 2,270? Actually, if we look at the over-65 population that COVID-19 tends to kill, California has a higher death rate than Florida’s. California is one of the youngest states in the country, with just 14 percent of its population over 65. Florida is the second oldest (not in our Abacoa neighborhood though!), with 20.5 percent of the population over 65. But neither the governor nor the media is not going to perform this adjustment (nor adjust for opioid addiction, alcoholism, weight gain in quarantine, reduced life expectancy from reduced education, reduced life expectancy from long-term unemployment, etc.) and therefore Californians will continue to believe that their governor’s suspension of what had been their rights (e.g., to gather, to have children educated, to walk outside without a mask, to go to the beach or the park) “saved lives”.)

Los Angeles, end of February 2020, almost the last day when Californians were free to walk outside their apartments, unmasked, and go to school or work without checking to see what the governor might have ordered. This homeless encampment is across from the lavish new Federal courthouse. The prediction on February 28, 2020? “Good Things Are Coming!” (schools for city children closed on March 16, 2020 and didn’t full reopen until August 16, 2021).

And let’s not forget, in the Land of Big Hearts (TM), the homeless encampment across the street from the homeless encampment:

Readers: Can we agree that a vote for Newsom was a vote for lockdown?

15 thoughts on “California governor recall results: Now we know how many Americans love to be locked down?

  1. Statewide COVID statistics for CA are misleading due to the large regional differences:
    1) The Bay Area did better than most anywhere in the US or Europe (68 deaths/100K for SF; the surrounding suburban counties are slightly higher). Seattle is the only other major area in the US which managed similar control (80 deaths/100K in King County).
    2) LA had a massive wave last winter (LA county has 255 deaths/100K total)
    3) The Central Valley had mixed performance. Politics and agriculture distinguish it from the coasts.

    Florida’s record is thus quite poor, especially in light of the advance warning from their lower international connectivity, the favorable winter weather, and the availability of vaccines during the worst wave.

    The success of Seattle and SF (and the northeast after the initial Spring 2020 disaster) suggests that culture and even minimally competent local government saved a lot of lives.

    • Matt: Your statements “Florida’s record is thus quite poor” and “The Bay Area did better than most anywhere” rest on the dogma that a society’s success is measured by COVID-19 death rate (also, you’d need to adjust for median age and the ability to work from home if you wanted to take a close look at what some part of a state had a different rate of death than another). What if people in Florida care primarily about having their children in school? Then it is the Bay Area whose record is “quite poor” because children were denied an education. “Minimally competent”? A Floridian might say that a minimally competent city government runs a school for children, giving them the education that had been considered their right (up until 2019).

      What if people in Sweden measure their success by the quality of their work and social lives? Again, the Bay Area in shutdown would look “quite poor” compared to Sweden. You consider the San Francisco government to be “competent” because the death rate tagged to COVID-19 there is lower than in some other parts of the world (but you didn’t adjust for population over 65, whether people have to work in person to get a paycheck, median household size, etc.), e.g., than in Los Angeles (where, presumably, the local government is incompetent?). The Floridian would consider the Los Angeles government to be Double Secret Incompetent due to having denied children the opportunity to attend school while simultaneously having a higher death rate tagged to COVID-19 than what prevailed in Florida?

      In short, there is no way to make a values-neutral statement about the success of a country, state, or city in the face of COVID-19.

    • Lol @crazy, Florida with its cruise ships, beaches, attractions a la Disneyland, Universal etc… is not “connected internationally”? There are several municipalities in Florida with higher percentage of aged population and COVID related deaths rates smaller then SF. matter of cherry-picking.

    • RBwr: You raise a good point. Hardly anyone was visiting San Francisco for the past 1.5 years (since everything was closed, both for business and leisure) while people have been swarming into Florida. There were temporary or permanent moves from the plague lands of New York, New Jersey, CT, and Maskachusetts. Tourists packed into Disney World (reopened July 11, 2020 and stayed open), Universal (reopened June 5, 2020 with face masks “encouraged” but not required), Key West, etc. Only the dual-citizen Europeans can get in, but folks from all over North America have converged on Florida. On the third hand, from Matt’s perspective (COVID-19 number = success measure), the Florida government should have been wise enough to order everything closed #UntilThereIsACure

    • @philg 11:12am

      You’re absolutely right that the west coast failed in keeping schools closed. There isn’t even really a tradeoff to make: schools aren’t a major driver of COVID but are critical for families.

      But the fault lies less with Newsom or the parents, and more with the fragmented local school boards and the teachers’ unions. In NYC, most parents I know wanted full-time school. Albany conceded strong mayoral control of its schools under Bloomberg, and de Blasio deserves rare credit for having pushed through in-person public schooling last year. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but they did better than the rest of either coast. Naturally most all the private schools managed to host full school weeks. I’m not sure why your former neighbors in MA were so set against in-person school. Maybe it’s a suburban thing?

      Finally, the bigger issue is just how many of our institutions performed poorly over the last year despite so many insiders trying their best to circumvent the rot. Our lives depend entirely on an increasingly complex technological and social infrastructure, so the continued deterioration of state capacity in the US ought to worry everyone who has read their history.

    • Matt: Again, I don’t think you can say that the governments “failed” by closing schools without betraying a value system that not everyone would agree with. There is no universal requirement to believe that education for the young is more important than preventing every possible death among the old. If the old have the political power, it would make sense for them to say that their own (perceived) safety is more important than children being able to learn and eventually take over their jobs.

      On the subject of institutions, I do find it mind-boggling that people don’t demand more from their 20% of GDP spending ($4 trillion/year) on health care. Let’s assume that, contrary to , COVID-19 patients actually need to be in the hospital. The recent Florida peak involved roughly 1 in 1,300 people in the hospital with/for COVID-19. Wouldn’t we expect that this surge could be accommodated without too much drama? Floridians themselves didn’t panic, but the New York and California-based media outlets certainly did! Yet nowhere in these articles did anyone ever ask “If we spend 20% of our GDP on health care, why can’t 1 in 1,300 people be in the hospital simultaneously during a respiratory virus peak?”

  2. Results of CA governor recall are very troubling.
    Hope it is not a preview of the things to come in the USA.

  3. crazytrainmatt: I also think that more factors need to be considered in the “success” of SF. For example, Whites and Asians are underrepresented in Covid cases, whereas Hispanics are overrepresented (the reasons can be anything, perhaps cultural or occupational differences):,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

    But SF has 53% White, 36% Asian and 15% Hispanic, so a very low rate independent of government “action” would be expected.

    • And since this was about fatalities, another (even more politically incorrect) factor may be that people in SF have better medical care.

  4. When the 2021 recall is compared with the 2003 recall, the 2021 recall was created by a very small number of people. Once the ballot got passed, there was no reason the other 50 million people would vote the same way.

    There were more republicans in 2003 for sure. The population was much older in 2003. Most of all, the current population is much richer than it was in 2003. The average salary is $300,000 when in 2003 it was more like $100,000. Modern 30 years olds just don’t care about a $400 car tax or a $5 gas tax like 50 year olds used to. Peak earning years are 30-35 in Calif*.

    If you can’t afford the 13% capital gains tax or a $4 million house as a tax shelter, move to Hong Kong.

  5. @philg how did you pick Florida over say Texas? What were your top picks?

    – pilot & new dad thinking of defecting from CA

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