How the GOP is Winning Among the Poor | GOPlifer | a Chron.com blog:
by Chris Ladd
Brian Kelsey at Civic Analytics in Austin did an excellent analysis of voting patterns in the most government dependent counties in the US. He used data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to gather a list of counties whose residents are most dependent on government aid in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and other “welfare” programs.
Strangely, Kelsey discovered that Romney won 21 of the 25 most welfare-dependent counties in the country. The pattern Kelsey found extends beyond his limited data set. Romney won some of his most overwhelming support in the 2012 election from America’s most “dependent” regions, carrying 77 of America’s 100 most welfare-dependent counties.
It turns out that America’s most aid-dependent counties share some other characteristics that might explain their voting patterns. They are overwhelmingly white, southern, and rural. In fact, 86 of them are in areas that did not outlaw slavery prior to the Civil War and 81 of them are majority white.
Romney lost only four of those 81. Three of those four are in the North. He lost only one county on that list which was white and Southern (Elliot, KY), and he lost there by 60 votes.
Another surprising pattern emerges from the analysis – the stark racial divide between the poorest Americans, and those who receive the most poverty relief. In an interesting irony, the list of most dependent counties does not line up with the list of poorest counties. The counties which receive the highest levels of welfare assistance are disproportionately white; while most of America’s poorest counties are majority-minority.
Though African-Americans and Hispanics suffer far higher poverty rates, they receive far less proportionately in government transfers. Poor whites receive government assistance at a far higher rate than poor non-whites. In other words, even in poverty, it pays to be white.
On the other end of the spectrum, Obama won half of the nation’s fifty wealthiest counties. He lost all of the counties on the 50 wealthiest list which are located in the South (if you exclude Virginia’s DC suburbs – not exactly the heart of Dixie).
This reflects a pattern seen across the country in the 2012 results. The Republican ticket saw its greatest success based not on wealth or welfare, but on three, ranked criteria:
1) Region – The single highest indicator of success for the GOP ticket regional. Republicans won reliably in sections of the country in which slavery was legal until Lincoln’s election.
2) Urbanity – The lower the population density, the more successful the GOP ticket.
3) Race – Romney performed best among white voters, particularly older white voters.
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