Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A secession scenario, part III

The past two installments of this series have been discussing a hypothetical Republican-led anti-Obama secession movement and what things would look like if about one third of the states seceded. Today, I'd like to spend just one moment turning the map inside-out.

When I constructed the ASA, I started off by taking every state that has a Republican legislature, a Republican governor, and voted against Obama. I.e., we didn't include Florida, because Florida voted for Obama. I then added the two states Obama did worst in (Wyoming and Oklahoma) despite their Democratic governors, and threw in Montana because they have been surrounded. Now let's do the opposite, for fairness' sake - what's the Democrat-ruled Obama Nation look like?

OK, so let's take the states that voted for Obama and have wholly Democratic state governments - so not including Arkansas and West Virginia, Democrat-run states which voted against Obama. Now add Hawaii and Vermont because Obama did best in those two states (in spite of their Republican governors). Connecticut and Rhode Island we now add for geographic reasons.

Unlike the ASA, we can't connect all the Democratic states of America using only four states - but there is one state that Obama polled over 60% in that we haven't included, and it's a big enough state to make an entire "disputed region" all by itself: California. So here's our map, for completeness.

The highlighted states (blue) have a population of 98 million and a GDP of $4.9 trillion ($50,200 per capita). You can see how much less geographically contiguous this group is - scattered across the country in five different pieces. And I think that highlights the point perfectly.

Now, if the ASA's GDP per capita was barely below the US average, and these Democratic states average well above the US average, that tells us something really odd that I don't think I've heard before. The most bipartisan states in the union, as a group, number in their group most of the poorest states. Maybe it's a historical anomaly that the states whose local governments and presidential preferences are split are poorer than those who are entirely red or blue in 2008; maybe it actually means something.