CDS PhD Student Tymor Hamamsy Evaluates Data to Understand the Link Between Voting and Health

Healthcare has been and continues to be an important issue for voters in the U.S. To understand the relationship that voting patterns have with health, disease, and mortality, CDS PhD student Tymor Hamamsy, alongside colleagues, has co-authored “Viewing the US presidential electoral map through the lens of public health”. The paper was recently published in PLOS ONE, an open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science. Tymor’s co-authors include Michael Danziger, a doctor at the University of Maryland Medicine Center, affiliated CDS professor Jonathan Nagler, and associated CDS professor Richard Bonneau (who is also a member of the CDS Advisory Committee).

In their work, the team conducted a comprehensive analysis of voting patterns and 150 different public health and wellbeing variables at the county-level, comparing all states. Variables that were analyzed included the following: physically unhealthy days, mentally unhealthy days, percent food insecure, the teen birth rate, the primary care physician visit rate, the age-adjusted mortality rate, the violent crime rate, average health care costs, the percent diabetic, and the percent overweight or obese in a county. The team also examined county-level health over the past 30+ years, and found substantial relationships between several health measures and county voting patterns in presidential elections.

Ultimately, their findings indicate strong relationships between party affiliation among voters and health outcomes. These outcomes derived from individual mechanisms as well as institutional aggregate measures. It is the team’s consensus that it would serve the public interest to further investigate “mechanisms that link partisanship to health outcomes in an attempt to decouple political affiliation and health in the future” and that a better understanding of this relationship can lead to legislative improvements in healthcare policy.

To read the paper in its entirety, please visit the “Viewing the U.S. presidential electoral map…” PLOS webpage.

By Ashley C. McDonald

Official account of the Center for Data Science at NYU, home of the Undergraduate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs in Data Science.