DeSantis is ascendant and Cuomo is faltering

Yet, for both men, their political fortunes and the tests imposed by their parties seem disconnected from the central question of this moment: Did they effectively govern their states through an extraordinarily challenging year?

The data is fairly inconclusive. When adjusted for population, Florida has a lower rate of deaths than New York, including at long-term care facilities like nursing homes, but a higher rate of cases over all, and it leads the country in the number of cases of the more contagious and deadlier U.K. variant of the virus. Slightly more Floridians — 8.7 percent of the population — than New Yorkers have received two doses of a Covid vaccine, but nearly the same percentage of the population in both states has received the first dose.

Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story. New York was the epicenter of the country’s first wave, before doctors had the equipment, experience and medications to fight a new disease. States like Florida learned from New York. Yet, for all Mr. Cuomo’s efforts to use his platform to stop the spread of the disease, he resisted early calls for lockdowns — a delay that undeniably played a role in the high death toll.