Frequent news stories tell of folks who protest and rant about “socialism” and government handouts, especially recently in the “debate” over health care reform, but who turn out to live on social security and depend on Medicare, and sometimes don’t even know they are public programs! This likely tells us about the astounding power of the religious right and of the economic illiteracy of much of the population.
Statistics of possible interest and value include data on the balance between federal tax receipts and federal outlays for the states and variation in “dependency” or the shares of unearned income/transfer payments by states (social security, public assistance, etc).
Is there any evidence of more “liberal” Obama-voting in states which actually pay more in taxes than they get back, or which have lower rates of dependency?
Yes, but the relations are not strong, because there are some very confounding factors, like size of state, age of the population, or presence of federal institutions.
Still, here is a list of states that support the hypocrisy argument about the balance of receipts versus outlays.
|Get/Give Ratio||Share of Obama Vote||Get/Give Ratio||Share of Obama Vote|
But some states are exceptions, notably the following group with both high outlays relative to receipts and high concentrations of Obama voting:
|Get/Give Ratio||Share of Obama Vote|
Except for Maine, these states have a large federal presence.
Now is there evidence of states with higher shares of the populace depending on unearned income and transfer payements voting more Republican? Again, yes, but even less strongly, and the dependency share are never really very high.
But some states are exceptions, coming in high in both categories or low in both categories, notably:
These “high high” states have very high shares of the elderly.
States on both lists supporting the hypocrisy theory include the Republican voting states sitting at the trough: WV, AL, KY, MT, AR and OK on the one side, and Democratic voting states showing less dependency on various federal sources: MA, NV, NJ, CT, NH, MN, IL, CA, CO and WA on the other. HI and ME are contrary on both lists. Note that most of the other states have around average values and show no consistent patterns. They are mapped but not discussed.
Richard Morrill is Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Washington. His research interests include: political geography (voting behavior, redistricting, local governance), population/demography/settlement/migration, urban geography and planning, urban transportation (i.e., old fashioned generalist)