Finding a correlation between Trump voters and opioid use

The left-leaning taxpayer funded US media network, NPR, published a sensationalist piece titled, ‘Analysis Finds Geographic Overlap In Opioid Use And Trump Support In 2016

The article opened as follows:

The fact that rural, economically disadvantaged parts of the country broke heavily for the Republican candidate in the 2016 election is well known. But Medicare data indicate that voters in areas that went for Trump weren’t just hurting economically — many of them were receiving prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

Is that what the two charts reveal? The first chart records 2016 voting strength for Trump by county. The second, prescription opioid use by each county.

What the NPR article failed to note is that the r-squared figures for each study were stuck in the 40% range meaning there was incredibly low correlation and what statisticians would call “statistically insignificant.

Perhaps NPR might have admitted that drug overdose deaths under Trump went down for the first time in almost 30 years, claims backed up by the CDC. We wrote a piece on the problem back in 2017.

Best just run an article implying that Trump voters in 2016 were poor dumb hicks in rural areas hallucinating from all of the opioids they had taken.

At least we give some credit to NPR for actually reporting (towards the end of the article) the study’s lead author who said,

We were not implying causality, that the Trump vote caused opioids or that opioids caused the Trump vote…We’re talking about associations.”

So why bother with the article in the first place other than to take a pot shot at a portion of the very people who hold different political views but still fund NPR?

Perhaps, NPR might have thought how bad things had become over the long run under the incumbent political class that it gave birth to Trump. Not the other way around.

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