Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Earlier, I wrote about some new Red/Blue posts by Atrios and Nate Newman. Atrios linked to a map highlighting the areas with the most rapid increases in housing values and points out that the areas with the most rapid increases over the last few decades, meaning they are the places people want to live, are all Blue (i.e., Gore) “decadent liberal socialist enclaves.” In turn, this led me to speculate that it would be hard to tell a map with Blue highlighting Gore Counties from a map using Blue to highlight the counties with the greatest gains in property values. I left the proof as an exercise for the reader.

Reader and Researcher James K. Galbraith, who wrote a book on income inequality and also heads The University of Texas Inequality Project, sent me a great map with counties color-coded by the extent to which their income is above or below the national average. His conclusion:

As a rough cut, Gore won the rich places and the poor places. Bush won the middle-income places and the empty places.

Take a look at the two maps together (click to enlarge):

Income Inequality by County
In Galbraith’s map, as he explains, “Red indicates the largest positive contribution–counties where the money is. Blue indicates the largest negative contributions: counties with significant populations and incomes well below average. Greens and yellows are counties with either insignificant populations or incomes near the average–[areas that contribute] little to inequality.”

The high income areas, Red in Galbraith’s map, are all Gore areas. But large swaths of the lowest income area, Blue in Galbraith’s map, also voted for Gore (e.g., the border areas in Southern Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico). This highlights the main point of Judis and Teixeira’s book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, that areas that (1) have a lot of people, (2) have a lot of money, or (3) are growing most rapidly, are all trending Democratic.

Back to my original hypothesis from the earlier post, you would be able to tell the vote map from the housing value appreciation map because Blue counties come in two varieties: (a) urban or (b) rural, non-white, and low income. The most rapid housing appreciation, on the other hand, is remarkably concentrated in urban areas.


P.S. Here’s the original file (pdf) that Galbraith sent me; this paper (see the appendix) explains the Income Inequality measure used to construct his map.