The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

How did rich and poor people vote in ’08?

with 6 comments

UPDATE March 8: For another analysis of the same data graphed in a different format see Rich and poor still vote differently in red and blue states

Who would have won if only rich people had voted in the last election? Or only poor ones?
Check it out:
clipped from

pewmaps.png[W]e took the Pew pre-election poll data and broke it down by state and income […]

Here’s what we got (red and blue states are those McCain or Obama would’ve won) […]

The most striking pattern is our estimate that Obama would’ve won almost all the states, if only low-income voters were counted […]

Among rich voters, Obama won in California and some northeastern and midwestern states–“blue America,” if you will. […]

The five income categories I used in the analysis are: 0-20,000; 20-40,000; 40-75,000; 75-150,000; over 150,000. The graphs above show the estimates for the highest, middle, and lowest of these five categories. I assume the numbers represent family income (as reported by the survey respondent). […]

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I’m astonished. When poor voters are heard alone, every state but two (Idaho and Wyoming) becomes blue.

Since many of my readers are Christians, allow me a religious question:

Christian, with whom did you stand?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? […] You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – from The Letter of James, chap. 2 (NRSV)

Watcha think?

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Written by Monte

March 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Politics

6 Responses

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  1. @Monte – I think that is generally correct. The rich didn’t get that way by starting out life as philanthropists in the main. The most pleasant Libertarian I know opposed SCHIP because it would have impacted this person’s personal income.


    March 14, 2009 at 10:38 am

  2. Thanks, Rich, good comment. I think you can follow the link to the Pew Research original document and find those numbers.

    I’ve always been a little skeptical of the libertarian argument, for three reasons. First, any of us who pastor know that generally the higher a person’s income, the smaller the percentage of it that is given away. I can’t think of a reason to suppose that that cutting government services sufficiently to give some of us more money would change that historic pattern.

    Second, Jesus is consistently skeptical of wealth and of wealthy people; we in the USA lean toward seeing things more like Jesus’ opponents did: wealth is good, and indicative of God’s blessing.

    Third, my father-in-law was a telephone installer before Social Security. I’ve heard him say something like “I can remember how it was before Social Security, when old people didn’t have anything to eat.” And I know of one situation where he left his lunch behind at the home of an elderly woman whose refrigerator was empty.

    So I think you’re right: what individuals, churches, and charitable organizations give is wonderful, but it wasn’t enough before Social Security, Medicare, and the income tax, and – sacrificial though it sometimes may be – we as a nation are still leaving millions behind.


    March 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm

  3. so where is the data supporting this theory.. ?? I looked at all the links and there is no data sheets with the statitstics used to come up with this map… They talk about early voting data “pew” but even if early voting is accurate that is a small percentage of the American people that actually voted. That would be like me saying Well the new pastor of this church would have been Pastor A if only those who tithed 4% only were counted… according to those who voted on Saturday because they had to work on Sunday and couldn’t make it to church. This at best is another liberal fictitious sceme to make people believe we are hurting the poor.. I cannot believe Monte that you even put this stuff up.. are you really buying this. And of course they would vote for Obama because he promised them the world, socialism and free this and that because the other side is out to get you and take all that you have and make you work for your money….. that would be so unAmerican..
    Also the Pew polls they use are owned and operated by the The Pew Charitable Trust…. which is liberal… so why does it surpise you the data fits thier candidate???? seriously.. this is about as bogous as when people say Clinton was a good moral president.. Who was permantley disbarred and lost his law license, credibly acused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick and supported abortion tooth and nail!

    Adam Jantz

    March 7, 2009 at 10:54 am

  4. I’d be interested to know how many people are represented in each of the three categories. 538 gives us the income levels represented, but not the number of people in each of those income levels. Are the vast majority in the middle, with only a few at the top and bottom? Are they pretty evenly distributed? Etc.

    I used to be a strong advocate for a libertarian approach (and still like it, as it’s extremely consistent and seems to jive well with our founding documents, etc). In that view, if the government would get out of the way, then “the church could be the church” and together with other charitable organizations would adequately care for the poorest among us.

    But the reality is that this hasn’t happened. The church hasn’t cared for the poor adequately. And so the poor are crying out for help to the only people who seem to be listening and offering solutions: the Democrats.

    (This isn’t too discount the enormous amount of good being done by churches and charitable organizations. It’s just that it hasn’t been enough.)

    Thanks, Monte, for bringing this to our attention & inviting us to wrestle with it.

    Rich Schmidt

    March 6, 2009 at 8:37 am

  5. Thanks, Marque – good point!


    March 5, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  6. Fascinating post – thanks for bringing that forward. Just goes to show why both sides perpetually wrangle for the affections of the middle class – that map is essentially a carbon copy of the final Electoral College map.


    March 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm

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