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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Voting your interests

In Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas?, one of the key conundrums is why the people of Kansas and other red states consistently vote against their own economic interests. In fact, according to AP, the ten states with the lowest median income were all red states in 2004: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In other words, these states are full of people who benefit way more from food stamps and Medicaid than they do from tax cuts. So why do they vote for Bush, who cuts social programs and taxes?

On the other hand, the top five states in median income, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, all voted for Kerry! So they could be considered to have voted against their economic interests as well (although I think sanity had a lot to do with it).

Unfortunately, the AP article doesn't show the rank of every state. I can see that Alaska, at number six, is the richest red state, but I don't know which is the poorest blue state (I'd guess Illinois, Minnesota, or California).

One strange note. Two years ago, Nebraska had seven of the twelve poorest counties in the nation, including the bottom three. In today's listing of the poorest counties, not a single Nebraska county made the list. What's going on in Nebraska? I guess all the poor folk moved one state north. The poorest county in America is Buffalo County, South Dakota, with Ziebach County, South Dakota in third place.