Who are the Republicans?

After a recent debate with my uncle (I am pro-Obama, he is... not) I wanted to gain a better understanding of where and who Republicans are and what kinds of lives they lead, on aggregate.

TL;DR: the red states are lagging in quality of life measures pretty much across the board.

The following charts demostrate key demographic differences between red and blue states. Scroll all the way down for details on methodology.

How to read the charts:
  1. The states are plotted as "Most pro-Romney" on the left, most pro-Obama on the right"
  2. The blue plot represents the strength of pro-Romney (bellow axis) or pro-Obama (above axis) lean
  3. The red plot shows measured data for the state, in standard deviations. 

Red States vs. Blue States: Higher Education
The first relevant criteria I selected is education. Specifically, percentage of adult population with an undergraduate education or higher. Remember: states on the left of the chart are most pro-Romney, states on the right are most pro-Obama.


No surprise there, I think. Most of the pro-Romney states  (the ones where blue plot is bellow zero) are bellow-average in educational attainment and most pro-Obama states are above average. Ok what else?

Red States vs. Blue States: Income
Next, I examined whether there is any income disparity between red and blue states. It's possible, after all, that all this fancy college education is going to waste!

Obama's Lead vs. Per Capita Income

But, turns out, residents of blue states make a lot more money than those in the red states. Here, the red points represent per-capita income. In fact, out of the 21 states with above-average per-capita incomes, 16 are pro-Obama, and only 5 are pro-Romney (or to put it another way, out of the 30 bellow-average income states, 21 are pro-Romney.) 

It's hard to distinguish correlation from causation here but either way, if you live in an uneducated and poor state, you are significantly more likely to vote Republican.

Red States vs. Blue States: Keeping Babies Alive
One of the recent hot democrat-vs-republican debate topics was Obamacare. Republicans seem adamant about protecting the health-care status quo. Can we infer from this that they currently enjoy high quality healthcare? The two charts bellow show infant mortality rates (the chart on the right shows the same data, but omits Utah and DC. See bottom of this page for why DC and Utah are weird)

vs Infant Mortality Ratesvs Infant Mortality, no Utah no DC

Red States vs. Blue States: Crime
If there's one thing conservative Republicans are good at it's maintaining morality and law-and-order, right?

vs crime ratevs crime rate no dc no utah

Not really. Here we see that crime rates (again, with DC and Utah and without) are completely unrelated to whether a state is red or blue.

Red States vs. Blue States: Hitting bellow the bible belt
I couldn't resist adding two more graphs here. The first shows population residing in mobile homes, the second traffic fatalities per mile driven:

Obama's Lead vs. Percentage Mobile Home Householdsvs traffic fatalities

Seems like the stereotype of Republicans being trailer park residents is supported by data. But you'd think with all that experience driving their homes, they'd be safer drivers!

Bonus Content:
So how do we ever elect Republican presidents? It's because the electoral college is stupid. What if it wasn't? Electoral College What-Ifs!


Why are DC and Utah weird?
In many of these charts, Utah and DC both appear as outliers in that while they are the most pro-Romney and pro-Obama states, respectively, they sometimes are different than other states voting the same way. I think I know why. Utah is not the most Republican state ever, but it's most pro-Romney because of the Mormon factor. Utah is decidedly not as crappy as the other heavily republican states. The best proxy I have for how it would normally fall out on the republican factor is the 2008 results: 63 to 34 McCain (29% Republican lead, vs. 51% today) However, at 29% Utah would still be the 3rd most republican state in 2008. DC is different in another way. Unlike most other states which have a mix of rural and urban situations, DC stands out as 100% urban, therefore it possesses both the positives (higher education and income) and negatives (higher crime rate) in the extremes. 

  1. Red/Blue state designations and the gaps between Romney and Obama come from the most recent poll data on http://electoral-vote.com/
  2. State demographic data is from the census, starting here: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/rankings.html
  3. All units of measure are standard deviations from the mean.