Thursday, September 18, 2014

From the Big City Subway to Merica: Election 2012

Eight of every 10 Americans now lives in a city or its suburbs.  As these maps hint, I believe many of the political divisions between the "Blue" and "Red" states are manifestations of growing cultural differences between urban and rural Americans.  

First, there are the economic differences.  The 10 largest metropolitan areas produce a whopping 34% of the country's total GDP (Gross Domestic Product).  In every state except three -Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont- metro areas produce the majority of each state's economic output according to an analysis by the Brookings Institute.  The Brookings Institute study also finds 93% of scientists and engineers live in metro areas.  In 30 states, the bulk of international exports are produced in metro areas.  Cities large and small are America's economic engines.  

Merica, the mostly rural, Republican-voting counties of the United States, tend to be older, less educated, and poorer.  There is an on-going debate over the nature of net dollar transfers of Federal tax dollars that I will discuss in future posts.  Ironically, -to quote recent political rhetoric- the counties of rural Merica are the 'Takers' who receive more Federal tax dollars in entitlement programs and other Federal programs than the wealthier, Democrat-leaning 'Makers' in urban areas.  Urban areas do not pay higher taxes into the Federal coffers, but they do contribute more in total dollars because of higher incomes among city-dwellers and a greater production of the nation's GDP.  Most -though not all- rural areas produce less and have older, sicker, and poorer residents who use more Medicaid, Medicare, and other Federal programming dollars.  

So, from an economic perspective, rural voters should be supportive of programs that help rural areas and the poors by maintaining or raising taxes.  These are more the positions supported by Democrats.  Yet, rural voters -as the maps below show- in areas except of New England, New York, Illinois, Maryland and California voted Republican in the 2012 Presidential election.  In turn, the urban voters who pay in more than they get back should economically do better in theory by supporting politicians who seek to lower Federal taxes and cut social safety net programs.  Again though, urban voters heavily supported the Democratic candidate over the tax-and-social-programs-cutting Republican candidate in 2012.  Clearly, other factors around economic and cultural values outweigh voting based on how much you pay in and get back from the Feds.

The 2012 Presidential 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alaska to New Jersey

Are you more a city or country person?  Well, this map and the graph below can help you decide where to move.  In 2012 the median number of residents per square mile in the US was about 98 people per square mile.  Alaska on the other hand had just over 1 person pers square mile.  On the other extreme is DC with 9,927 people per square mile and New Jersey with 1,169 people per square mile.

The graph below may help you to better grasp the huge differences between Alaska and New Jersey.  If each of these blue squares is a square mile, then each person symbol represents the number of people per square mile in each of these two states and the median population density for the US as a whole.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Urban America

Four out of five of we Americans live in cities.  In fact, most demographers believe the majority of humans on this planet now live in cities; an amazing shift.  For most of our species' history, most of us have lived in the country; in forests and on farms.  So the growth of huge metropolitan areas in the past century or two is a relatively new experiment among our kind.

This week I begin a re-posting of a series on urban America.  I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Updated Civil Marriage Maps

Today's updated marriage maps show new information.  Now that there is a pending lawsuit seeking civil marriage for same-sex couples in every state, I've moved to showing where civil marriage is already legal (see map below) and an update on current court rulings (see map above).  On the map above the orange color (in North Carolina for example) means a Federal appeals court has issued a pro-marriage ruling for the appellate circuit that includes that state but not specifically on a case from that state.  In the example of North Carolina, the appellate court ruled on a case from Virginia (green).  The appellate circuit, however, includes Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia making similar bans on same-sex marriage in those states also likely unconstitutional.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Civil Marriage Map

Between travels and moving, I've not had access to my mapping software.  Here finally is a quick update to my marriage map.  Let me know if you see any updates or changes I've not captured for the months I was away.

While I was overseas it appears Oregon and Pennsylvania added civil marriage for same-sex couples.  The Freedom to Marry folks who closely follow all the litigation report that since the Supreme Court's Windsor decision, 24 courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage with 0 ruling against.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Is the Typical American Fat?

Two out of every 3 American adults are now overweight (35.8%) or obese (27.6%) based on their BMI. While most American adults report being physically active in the past month, most of us do not eat our recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.