An article at gobankingrates.com really caught my attention on August 29. It was titled “The Most and Least Successful States.” Wow. That’s open to interpretation. Who gets to decide which state is the most successful, the least successful? What criteria? What’s the timeline? Oh, my head was exploding with anticipation of having a few moments to sit down and read the article. Last night I had that opportunity.
Not much in the article surprised me as to the most and least successful states. What did surprise me was the extraordinary amount of data gobankingrates used to come to their conclusions:
- the average income of the top 1 percent
- the average income of the bottom 99 percent
- the states’ poverty rates
- the percentage of the states’ population in the upper, middle, and lower classes
- the number of millionaire households
- the ratio of millionaires to total households
- and the number of billionaires
The Most Successful States, according to their analysis, are:
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- District of Columbia (technically not a State, but whatever)
- North Dakota
In the last three presidential elections—2012, 2008, 2004—the top seven of those states voted for the Democratic candidate. Of the last three in that Top 10, Alaska and North Dakota voted Republican three times, and Virginia voted Democrat twice and Republican once. The article didn’t tell me any of that; my research did.
The Least Successful States:
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
In the last three presidential elections—2012, 2008, 2004—all except New Mexico voted Republican all three elections! New Mexico voted Democrat twice and Republican once.
The most successful states are predominantly Democratic states and the least successful states are predominantly Republican. Interesting.
Here is a map I created based on the 2012 presidential election; blue states voted for Obama and red states voted for Romney. The number in each state is its place on the most successful state list; low numbers are successful states and high numbers are unsuccessful states.
Look at the South. How depressing, IMHO. Using the Mason-Dixon line as the dividing point, the southern states rank 22, 31, 35, 40 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, and 51.
Interestingly, along with the least successful states being Republican states, they also are the most religious states. Here’s the Top 10 most religious states, all red Republican states:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
So what gives? Are the religious Republicans not praying for success, for financial well-being? Is that not a goal of theirs? Wouldn’t their greater success and their tithing mean greater success for their churches and religions? I’m just so confused.
As I was pouring over maps and data, I found that the southern states were pretty much blue Democratic states from 1952 to 1976. But there was a change taking place, and it took only one generation for that change to fully occur, starting in 1960 when Alabama and Mississippi voted for a third party candidate.
In 1964, the whole nation except for Arizona and five southern states voted Democratic. Was it a sympathy vote after Kennedy was assassinated?
In 1968, George Wallace, he of Alabama segregation fame (or dishonor, if you will), won the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. It should be noted that Wallace considered himself a Conservative Democrat.
In 1972, the whole nation except for Massachusetts voted Republican, and 1976 was the last time that the South voted Democratic. In 1980 the South turned reliably Republican. Only a few states have broken from the Republican fold since 1980, most notably Florida in the 2012 and 2008 elections.
So the generation that came immediately after World War II effectively changed the outlook of the two parties. Look at the following meme of the 1956 Republican Party platform, exactly the opposite of the GOP’s goals the past 20 years or so.
Of course, politics is not a top down event; there is no trickle down politics. Politics start locally.
What I would love to do is see who was in charge of the cities, counties, and states since World War II. That would probably be much more telling than the presidential election. Unfortunately, I have to work and pay my creditors, and doing wonderful research on who has been in charge of America locally since World War II probably is not going to pay my bills.
Hmmmm. Maybe YOU would sponsor me? Or perhaps I could create a GoFundMe account. Or maybe I’ll just wonder and have another margarita.
If you’re interested in the ranking and how the states voted from 2012 all the way back to 1952, I created that list, too:
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