Data on overdoses show that counties that voted for Donald Trump last year are experiencing the worst of the drug epidemic, the Wall Street Journal reports. Among counties that voted for the president, the median rate for drug overdose deaths is 16.9 per 100,000 people, above the national average of 16.3 deaths, according to data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings, which analyzed data from 2013-2015 in more than 1,600 counties. Among counties that voted for Hillary Clinton the median figure is a far lower 13.6 per 100,000. The picture in some Trump-supporting areas is stark. West Virginia, a state in which Trump won every county, has nine counties in which the drug overdose death rate is higher than 50 per 100,000 people. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says drug overdose deaths have risen by 137 percent since 2000, and opioid overdose deaths have jumped 200 percent.
The crisis defies a traditional view that drug abuse is an urban problem. Some 200 low-population counties that voted for Trump had drug overdose rates that exceeded rates in the counties that are home to urban Detroit, Indianapolis and Milwaukee. Declining economic circumstances could be driving the numbers. Many of these rural communities have lost jobs over the past 20 years, which may account in part for higher drug use. Suburban, blue-collar counties with lower college education rates and incomes also have relatively high drug overdose rates, the foundation’s data show. Such counties, scattered across the Midwest, have a median drug overdose rate of close to 22 per 100,000 people – higher than the national rate. Those 77 counties were instrumental to Trump’s winning the White House. He carried them by 13 percentage points in November, a central reason that he won Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.