What do anti-vaccine believers have in common? A similar distrust in other settled science like GMOs and nuclear power, for one. And they all are more likely to share similar voting patterns, which means that even though only 20 percent of Americans hold negative views of vaccines, they have an outsized impact on policy. Because most of them are on the same political side.

California, for example, has rolling brownouts during a heatwave because they have banned both new natural gas and nuclear energy generation in the state. They had claimed that wind and solar were viable and forced the largest energy company in the state, PG&E, to adopt more of it and pass the costs along to all customers - who are now paying more and not able to run their air conditioners. California can't generate its own due to politically picking winners and losers in energy and now have to compete with other states for electricity.

Those decisions were based on the politics of constituents, not science. If you don't understand how energy actually works, you are more willing to believe it's magic. 

The same recently held true for anti-vaccine beliefs. Some schools on the coast of California had fewer than 30 percent of children vaccinated. The state had to eliminate "philosophical" objections because of more vaccine deniers than the rest of the country combined, followed in per capita numbers by Washington and Oregon.

And if you took a compass and drew a circle around a Whole Foods, you'd find those vaccine deniers. Their stores were placed to match the kind of demographic that bought organic food; wealthy, liberal, and opposed to science. They are only a small minority of the total population but because they are large donors, they have an outsized impact.

Survey results after denial of science caused measles to come roaring back in the US in 2019 asked 1,938 U.S. adult respondents about their perceptions of vaccination. Most of the results were what you expect. The overwhelming majority support mandatory childhood vaccines. This makes sense. Until the discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield set off anti-vaccine hysteria in England and then the US, by convincing wealthy progressive elites that regular vaccines caused autism (but the alternative he was pitching would not!), the only people who denied vaccines were a few religious cultists. A decade later, the most religious states, like Alabama and Mississippi, still had vaccination near 100 percent, while California had dropped below herd immunity. 

That made a big difference in policy. The beliefs became so popular that President Donald Trump even met with American vaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. After I urged the president-elect to distance himself from Kennedy in the Wall Street Journal, he did just that (President Obama had even been set to offer Kennedy a cabinet position but pulled it after my criticisms.) 

Their objections in 2019 still revolved around just what the "natural", "organic" and alternatives to medicine community have long believed. That getting the disease provides better immunity than a vaccine, that vaccines cause autism, that they are a "toxic cocktail", a claim mirroeed by the endocrine disruptor activists who claim BPA and formaldehyde are somehow harmful.

What about COVID-19? Once corporate media made the SARS-CoV-2 issue an election year campaign issue, by saying the president was doing too much by banning travel to saying he did not do enough by not banning haircuts, the right wing is more skeptical of everything they read. Does that mean the script will have flipped and they are more likely to deny a COVID-19 will work, a position the left has historically occupied? We'll have to see.