Rich State, Poor State

RICH STATE, POOR STATE….For the wonkish among us, Brendan Nyhan points to an interesting academic paper published last year that provides a bit more detail about the voting patterns of rich and poor. It turns out that the rich are different from you and me, but they’re more different in poor red states than in rich blue ones.

The conclusion of the paper is fairly simple: in poor states, income is a major predictor of whether you vote for Republicans or Democrats. In Mississippi, for example, the rich are far more likely than the poor to vote for Republican presidential candidates. But just the opposite is true in high-income states. There, although the rich are still more likely to vote for Republicans, the difference is quite small.

The chart above shows how clear this distinction is, and the authors report that it’s become clearer over time. It’s rare to get such a clean regression line in social science data like this, which makes their results pretty provocative.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this or how to take advantage of it, but knowledge is power, right? Maybe someone smarter than me will figure out what this means and how to use it.

UPDATE: Andrew Gelman, one of the co-authors of the paper, writes on his blog that although the pattern they noticed really is striking, the regression line isn’t quite as clean as I’m making it out to be. Apparently its cleanliness is partly an artifact of the model they used. He also has another picture for you to look at.