Trump Backs Boosters. Clearly, Someone Did the Math for Him.

Trump is losing hundreds of voters a day to Covid — far more than the margins in the swing states.

Donald G. McNeil Jr.
3 min readJan 14, 2022

Math is not Donald Trump’s strong point.

Example: In 1988, he paid $408 million for the Plaza Hotel and spent millions making it gaudier. Seven years later, his creditors sold it for $325 million. And yet he styles himself a business genius.

Genius or no, he is suddenly doing something very smart: in interview after interview, he endorses vaccines and boosters. He’s even called political rivals who refuse to admit they’ve been boosted “gutless.”


My guess is that somebody has done the math for him.

The math that says: “Uh, sir? Your voters are dying in droves.”

Doing the math

By last June, almost all American adults who got vaccinated voluntarily had had their shots.

The Associated Press did a study of all Covid deaths in May and found that 99 percent of them were among the unvaccinated.

Since then, many other studies have reaffirmed that trend: in September, a C.D.C. study found that 91 percent of deaths were among the unvaccinated. In November, a Texas state health department study put it at 95 percent.

Who are the unvaccinated? Back in May, they were no doubt a mix of Republicans and Democrats. Early on, for example, many black and Hispanic Americans were hesitant about vaccines..

But that trend has shifted. Lots of black and Hispanic Americans came to accept the vaccines and employer mandates forced working Americans of all stripes to get them.

Recent C.D.C. data cited by Kaiser Health News shows vaccine-resistance highest among whites. Earlier polls showed growing divisions along party and even religious lines (86 percent of Democrats vaccinated vs. 60 percent Republicans; 90 percent of atheists vs. 57 percent of white evangelicals). By September, the pattern was clear, according to David Leonhardt of The New York Times: Covid death rates were about three times higher in counties that had voted for Donald Trump in 2020.

Since the AP did its study, about 270,000 Americans have died of Covid. If, say, 95 percent of those dead were unvaccinated, that’s 257,000 unvaccinated Americans gone.

How many of them were Trump voters? It’s impossible to know, but the Delta wave pushed average daily deaths over 1,000 a day in late August and they’ve stayed there. Those battle lines were clear by September. So it’s a good bet that the vast majority of deaths of the last two waves have been.

As of this week, about 1,800 Americans a day are dying of Covid; the C.D.C. expects that number to rise above 2,600.

Virtually all are adults. If 95 percent were unvaccinated and we assume that 75 percent of those were Trump supporters, that’s 1,300 to 1,900 of his voters being subtracted from the rolls every single day.

Donald Trump lost Arizona by a mere 10,000 votes. He lost Georgia by 12,000, He lost Wisconsin by 21,000. He lost Nevada by 33,000.

Right now, about 60 Arizonans, 36 Georgians, 34 Wisconsinites and 14 Nevadans are dying of Covid each day. Seventy five percent of 95 percent of that would be minus 103 Trump voters per day just in those four swing states. Week after week. That adds up.

Also, there is another factor in the equation. Covid is just one cause of overall mortality. While Republican state legislatures are working hard to suppress the Democratic vote, an invisible opposing hand is working against them: God’s.

The top five causes of death in this country, in order, are: heart disease, cancer, Covid, accidents and stroke. They all tend to smite the old, the obese and those who live far away from hospitals, i.e., rural red America.

It’s a good bet that Donald Trump has finally seen the arithmetic on the wall. If he is to have even a prayer in 2024, he needs to slow down death rates among his supporters. Hence, the booster-backing.

It may be too late, of course. But it sounds like he’s trying — despite the booing.



Donald G. McNeil Jr.

New York Times, 1976–2021. Last beat: lead Covid reporter. 2020 Chancellor Award; 2021 NYT team Pulitzer