In the febrile political atmosphere of 2020, whether higher excess death rates pertain for states with Democratic state governors (e.g. New York), or with high Democratic party vote-shares, has attracted political, media and social media comment. Past research on COVID-19-attributed death rates county level finds a negative correlation of COVID-19 death rates with the Democratic vote-share, with controls for race, population density, inter alia. We analyse variation across US states in rates of excess mortality, a more robust measure than COVID-19 attributed deaths. We find that a simple bi-variate positive correlation with the Democratic vote-share is dramatically reversed when controls are introduced for race, timing of the virus’ spread, Spring temperatures, population density and age, inter alia – and the result is highly robust. The Democratic vote-share dominates having a Democratic governor; thus, personal behavioural differences between Trump voters in 2016 versus those voting for Clinton (e.g. social distancing and mask-wearing) may be more important than variations in State policies by Governors.