Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Differences Between Conservative and Progressive States

Richard Florida has posted two articles on conservatives in America from The Atlantic. (March 29, 2011 and February 13, 2012). Quite properly, he shows correlations without inferring causality. He notes that the population of a state tends to be more conservative:

  • the more religious is a state's population, 
  • the lower the portion of the state's population that has graduated from college,
  • the lower the portion of immigrants and of gays and lesbians in the state population,
  • the greater the portion of the workforce in the blue collar occupations,
  • the lower the portion in workforce engaged in knowledge-based professional and creative work,
  • the lower the median income.
The population of a state tends to be more progressive the more the trends are in the opposite direction.

I will note that many of the conservative states were in the Confederacy -- that is that they had slavery longer than other states, suffered more in the Civil War, and were more affected by the problems of reconstruction and Jim Crow after the Civil War. Many other conservative states are in the block of states with small populations that were created from territories by the Republican administration in 1890 in an effort to add Republicans to the Senate and House of Representatives (and thus to the electoral college) in order to assure Republican control of the government. The most progressive states tend to be in the north east -- the winners of the Civil War, that abolished slavery early and that did not suffer reconstruction nor as much from Jim Crow -- or the west coast which was develop while the north central area was bypassed. Thus it is tempting to suggest that states are conservative or liberal according to their history.

However, it is also the case that progressive states have higher median income, more college graduates and greater portions of their workforces in knowledge in knowledge-based and creative work. Thus the economies of the conservative states are quite different than those of the progressive states. Not surprisingly then, there is a divide in political philosophy between red and blue states.

I found the following especially interesting:
That said, conservatives across America appear to be split along class and income lines when it comes to the issue of whether government should provide help for the poor. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than half (57 percent) of lower-income Republicans (those with family incomes of less than $30,000) said that government does not do enough for the poor, while less than one in five (18 percent) said it does too much. Richer Republicans (those with incomes of $75,000 or more), perhaps not surprisingly, overwhelmingly think government does too much.

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