Blue staters, are you tired of working for a living but being portrayed as a “latte drinking” liberal by meatheaded pundits who think that blue staters are a bunch of rich snobs? Red state Kerry voters, are you tired of having your “values” being thought to be the same as the deluded folks who actually voted for Bush? Regardless of where you live or how much money you make, haven’t you HAD IT with people who think that “elites” were the only ones who voted for Kerry while the “working folk”, “heartland,” “middle class” etc., made up the bulk of Bush voters?
Then this study is for you. In Rich State, poor state, red state, blue state: What’s the matter with Connecticut? mutiple political researchers (from red and blue states) utterly and totally debunk the notion of “rich latte Democrats” and poor Nascar Republicans. In fact, it turns out that the “typical” Democratic voter is a “lower income resident of a rich state” while the “typical” Republican voter is an “upper-income” resident of a poor state.
Nick, how is that possible? Can’t you read a map? Can’t you see all those low-income low cost of living states that voted for Bush while high cost of living states like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland were the bluest states around?
Yes I can read a map (and unlike most men I even asked directions when I’m lost). I can also read statistics, statistics like those that show that in Mississippi (where median household income is barely over $30,000 a year) “62 percent of Mississippians reporting a family income below $15,000, and 54 percent of those making between $15,000 and $30,000 backed Kerry. Bush’s success in this poor state, in other words, was due to his strength among relatively rich voters.”
Well of course poor and middle class Mississipians voted for Kerry, Nick, most of those folks are black? Well, yeah. I don’t deny that Mississippi blacks (along with blacks in other states) know which party has their best interests at heart. But the theory that middle and lower income vote in MS. went to Kerry because of the black vote is faulty. Why?
Well for one thing Kerry won a majority of votes from folks from households making less than $50,000 in 34 states. This includes states where whites make up an overwhelming majority (over 85%) of the population like Massachusetts, Washington, and Iowa. But if that isn’t enough, the authors of “Matter with Connecticut” show that Kerry”s strength among these voters wasn’t…
“merely a result of Democratic strength among African American and Latino voters — the “Connecticut” authors consider this possibility and conclude based on NES data that higher income positively correlates with Republican-voting, both on a national level and within states, even while controlling for race and ethnicity. This correlates with another study by Larry Bartels demonstrating that “White voters in the bottom third of the income distribution have actually become more reliably Democratic in presidential elections over the past half-century, while middle- and upper-income white voters have trended Republican.” What’s more, he finds, Frank’s cultural backlash just isn’t real. Social issues have even less salience than economic ones, Bartels writes, ‘for whites in the bottom third of the income distribution than for more affluent whites.’”
So why did wealthier states vote Democrat? Well wealthier states tned to have higher cost of living, so a voter in those states making 50K-75K is more likley to identify with the party of the working man. In contrast, a voter making 50K (or even less) in a poorer-and lower cost of living-state is more likely to identify with the “party of business” (at least the party of very, VERY, big business).
Think of it this way: Higher personal income positively correlates with higher rates of Republican voting. Higher state income negatively correlates with higher rates of Republican voting. This explains why, with one or two exceptions, Bush’s margins of the vote were always greater among higher income voters regardless of how that state voted.
The poorer you are the more likely you are to vote Democrat almost regardless of how your state was colored on Election Night, 2004. The difference between red and blue states hinges more on how great the gap is between the votes of lower-income vs. higher income voters.
In wealthier blue states like Connecticut and Maryland the under 50K crowd votes Democrat by larger margins than the over 50K crowd-but not by much. In fact, Kerry was favored by under 50K and over 50K voters in Connecticut.
In contrast, many poorer red states show large gaps in the vote preferences of the rich vs. poor. While poorer Mississippians favored Kerry, wealthier Mississippians favored Bush by an even larger margin. In Ohio, Kerry was favored by 58% of Ohio voters that made less than 50K. Among Ohioans making more than 50K-58% voted for Bush.
The next time a red-state Republican accuses Democrats of fomenting “class warfare” remember these red-state Republicans know what they’re talking about. After all, red states are more likely to have bigger gaps in voting preferences of the different classes than blue states have.
Or try this explanation: in 14 of the 20 states (19 plus DC) that Kerry won, Kerry won both the under 50K and over 50K vote (though he almost always did better among the under 50K crowd in all states). In only six Kerry states did the 50K crowd favor Kerry while at the same time the over 50K crowd favored Bush: New Hampshire, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Meantime, in the 31 Bush states: the over 50K crowd favored Bush in all 31 of these states. In nearly half of the red states (14 of 31) a majority of under 50K voters (including 8 in the South) favored John Kerry. So in just under 50% of red states, Bush’s margins were due to large GOP margins among rich, not poor voters.
So if your in a red state and making less than 50 grand, chances are your political “values” are not the same as your wealthier counterparts-keep fighting the good fight.
If you are making over 50K, living in a red state, but voted for Kerry- You are to be commended for your bravery- just don’t expect to be all that popular among your peers.
Over 50K blue staters, especially those in the six states cited above-you are the true eptiome of the “enlightened affluent.”
Under 50K blue staters, forget what true elitists like Joe Klein say, you are the base of the Democratic Party.
Up Next: The Truth About Elitist Pundits.