Monday, November 7, 2016

What Divides Us

Bar patrons watching one of the debates
John Minchallo/AP
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the pre-Election edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  With mere houses left before game day on November 8, Blogger thought that now would be an excellent time to look at what divides Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton voters.  Now, before you all roll your eyes and click onto something else, we have Richard Florida's always astute observations in CityLab to illuminate the key economic, political, and cultural factors that are connected with supporters of the Republican nominee versus the Democratic nominee.  His article "America's Class-Divided Electorate," sums up the research his colleague Charlotta Mellander, who conducted a simple correlation analysis of the nominees's supporters based on mid-October state polls.  Ms. Mellander use three sets polls: Pollster, Real Clear Politics, and YouGov.

"Pollster Mid-October State-By-State Polls"
Taylor Blake
Martin Prosperity Institue

Let us start with the results of the correlating based on Pollster, the polling website that appears to be a source for the most systematic coverage.  Each of the polls, used of this study, consistently follow each other: Pollster correlates at .97 with YouGov and .95 with Real Clear Politics for Madame Secretary and at correlations of .94 and .91 for Mr. Trump.  Mr. Florida notes, "There are a few factors for which there is discrepancy among the correlations across the different poll.  This usually when a variable is statistically insignificant using one poll by significant in another.  In those cases, I report the correlations for both."  As usual, the caveat applies: "correlation does not imply causation, but simply points to associations between variables."  However, this analysis does shed light on the fundamental divisions of the American electorate and society at large, not just on the outlier nature of this election

The Continuing Significance of Class
                                      Clinton                             Trump
Income                          0.57                                  -0.60

Hourly                           0.67                                   -0.68

Share                              -0.21                                    0.39
in Poverty
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute,

Class continues to be a primary divider in this election.  The above charts demonstrate that Blue States (Madame Secretary) are wealthier-positively correlated with average incomes and hourly wages- while Red States (Mr. Trump) are less wealthy-negative correlations in income and hourly wages.

Thus, Mr. Trump draws more supports from states with greater concentrations of poverty, measured in the number of families living below the poverty line (correlation of .39.  Conversely, Madame Secretary's support has no measurable correlation to the number of people living poverty.

Madame Secretary and Mr. Trump

Nate Cohn observed in The New York Times that in this particular election, educations is a signifier of class (, replacing cultural issues and the culture war as the singular dividing line in American politics. Martin Prosperity Institute Analysis also found that education was the dividing line in the 2016 election.  Madame Secretary's support is greater among the more educated states, positively associated with the number of college graduate voters (.60) while Mr. Trump's share is negatively associated with the same group (.-70).  This trend is apparent when we examine the number of universities per ten million people in each state: again,  we have a positive correlation association with state-level support in for Madame Secretary (.53) and a negative association for Mr. Trump(-.53).

                        Clinton                         Trump

College            0.60                             -0.70

Universities     0.53                              -0.59

High Tech        0.56                              -0.67

Creative          0.53                               -0.63

Working        -0.60                                0.67
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute,

Among states with greater concentrations of science, technology, and innovation, Madame Secretary's support is remarkably higher, positively associated with the Milken's Institute's recently released State Science and Technology Index (.56) while Mr. Trump's support is more negatively associated (-.67).

The nature of work people do-regardless of knowledge-based, creative class, or working class-also continues to be a determinant in the political divide.  Ron Brownstein, Mr. Florida's co-worker at The Atlantic ( observed the class inversion phenomena in American politics: the Democrats have become the party of the affluent while the Republicans have morphed into the party of the working class-accentuated in this election cycle.

Then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain
In 2012, Messrs. Brownstein and Florida concluded that President Obama garnered support from counties with large numbers of creative class knowledge workers, winning two-third of the vote, in 2008, in the top 100 counties with the greatest percentage of creative class workers, while Senator John McCain (R-AZ) counted on support from working class counties.  The same trend holds for this election cycles.

Richard Florida writes, "If Clinton support comes from creative class states, Trump's support comes from working class states."  Madame Secretary's state-level support is positively correlated with the creative class (.53), while similar support for Mr. Trump is negatively associated with share share of creatives (-.63).  The converse is true among the share of blue-collar workers: Mr. Trump is positively associated (.67) and Madame Secretary is negatively associated (-.60).  One interesting note, the results for the levels of unionization-gauged by the number of worker who are unionize-is the opposite.

                               Clinton                               Trump

Unionization          0.49                                    -0.47

Life expectancy     .35                                       -0.56

Gini (Pollster)       0.39                                     -0.06

Gini (YouGov)      0.50                                      -0.39
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute, 

The above infographic reveals that states with a greater number of union members, tend to lean Blue. Madame Secretary's state level support is positively linked with the level of unionization (.49) while Mr. Trump's support is negatively correlated (-.47) with the number of unionized workers.  Richard Florida speculates, "This may reflect the fact that only a relatively small share of blue-collar workers are unionized and that a large share of union members more highly paid and highly educated public sector workers."

Supporters for both candidates
Photograph by Mel Evans/AP
A yet-to-be-published more detailed analysis of the role of unions and union membership in the 2016 Election by former Martin Prosperity Institute research Patrick Adler lends credence to this view.  Mr. Adler concluded that the level of public sector unionization is generally associated with greater levels of support for Secretary Hillary Clinton, but support for Donald Trump is more closely linked with greater levels of unionization in the manufacturing and construction industries.  Regardless, it demonstrates that Democrats continue to gather greater support from states with greater union membership, even in the face of the continuing class inversion the electorate.

Jonathan Rottweil of the Gallup Organization ( published a detailed analysis that revealed that "...Trump draws considerable support for less educated working-class voters, his support is more related to less directly economic aspects of class status, such as health and the ability to move up the economic ladder, as well as racial isolation."  MPI analysis also found that the most essential gauge of health, life expectancy, to be the main dividing line in American politics.  Returning the above left infographic, support for Madame Secretary is higher in state with a longer life expectancy (.35), while life expectancy is negatively correlated with support for Mr. Trump (.-56).

Side-by-side rallies
Inequality is frequently considered to an issue that is powering politics and class schisms in the United States.  However, as Mr. Florida points out "But it seems to be playing a more limited role in the 2016 election."  Surprised?  Read on.  Income inequality is predicated on the standard measure of the Gini coefficient, not linked with support for Mr. Trump and positively correlated with support for Madame Secretary (.39).  Be that as it may, inequality has a greater connection with Madame Secretary in the YouGov poll (-.50) and both positively and negatively significantly linked with Mr. Trump in t  (-.39).

Richard Florida also points to urbanization and density as key defining in states which lean both blue and red.   According to a 2012 analysis by Dave Troy, published in CityLab (, places change colors as density reaches 800 people per square miles.  Thus, Madame Secretary continues gain support from more urbanized states.

                                Clinton                           Trump
Urbanization           0.58                                -0.40

Housing                  0.57                                 -0.64

State Income           0.48                                 -0.42
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute,

The MPI correlations, above,  show that Madame Secretary's support is positively associates with how urbanized a state is (.58), while Mr. Trump's support is negatively correlated (-.40) with urbanized states.

The cost of housing is another component of the American political divided. Mr. Florida writes, "According to an analysis by Jed Kolko, housing costs are almost twice as much in deep-blue markets ($227 per square foot) than in red markets ($119)."  (http//  Madame Secretary's support is greater in states with higher median housing (positively correlated at .57), while Mr. Trump's support is negatively linked to it (-.64).

Taxes continues to be a core issue that separates Democrats from Republicans.  No big surprise, Madame Secretary's support is in states with higher state income taxes, while Mr. Trump continue to draw support from states with lower tax rates.  The correlation numbers tell the tale: Madame Secretary's state-level support is positively linked with state income taxes per capita (.48), while Mr. Trump's state-level support is negatively correlated (-.42).  This is possibly a reflection of the fact "...that higher-tax states are richer and more educated than lower-tax ones."  However, social policy issues: homosexuals, guns, and abortion are bigger wedge issues than taxes.

Culture wars

The Continuing Role of the Culture Wars

Although class remains a key division in American politics, the cultures wars continues to be significant as well.

Religion remains a key divisor in American politics.  Richard Florida writes, "The level of religiosity in a state-measured via Gallup surveys of the share of the state population who say they are very religious, is positively correlated with Trump support (.58) and negatively associated with Clinton (-.50)."  See infographic below left.

                             Clinton                               Trump
Religiosity            -0.50                                    0.58

Abortion               0.54                                    -0.68

Teen Birth            -0.49                                   0.61

Gun Deaths         -0.47                                   0.56

LGBT                   0.61                                   -0.69
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute, 

Abortion remains a very large and passionate fault line issue in American politics.  The in the above infographic Mr. Trump's state-level support is greatly negatively correlated with the number of abortion providers per capita (-.68).  Conversely, Madame Secretary's support is positively linked with the same group (.54).  If you pay attention to the Teen Birth Rate correlation, you find that Mr. Trump's support is in states with higher teen birth rates (.61).

The Second Amendment
Guns is another loud and huge schism among voters.  Mr. Trump's support is higher in states with a greater number of gun deaths (.56), while Madame Secretary's support is correlated with states with lower gun death rates (-.47).

Gay rights is one more sore point issue in American politics.  Secretary Hillary Clinton's support is more positively connected with the number of LGBT people in a state (.61).  No great revelation, Mr. Trump's support is negatively correlated (-.69)

                                 Clinton                                     Trump
Foreign Born*         0.57                                         -0.55

White (Pollster)      -0.30                                          0.06
White (YouGov)      -0.35                                          0.30

Black                        0.24                                          0.06

Hispanics                  0.23                                       -0.29
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute,
*In an earlier version of this story, the correlation coefficients for Clinton and Trump support in relation to a state's number of foreign-born people was inadvertently switched.

Richard Florida reports, "The results of our analysis for race are surprising.  We hear much about the racial divide in this election, and especially how Trump draws support from white voters."  What the above infographic reveals is that states with a greater Caucasian population is less likely to support Madame Secretary (a negative correlation -.30).  However, even in those states with a larger share of Caucasian population do not necessarily support Mr. Trump (the correlation is statistically minuscule).  That aside, using the YouGov poll numbers we find that Mr. Trump's support is positively correlated (.30).

The key factor in this case, as Mr. Rothwell points is the degree of racial isolation experienced by Caucasians.  Immigration has been a a white hot issue during the Republican primaries and the current general election campaign.  Given Donald Trump's anti-immigration position, it is no big surprise that his support negatively associated with the number of foreign-born people in a state (-.55), while Madame Secretary's support is positively connected with the share of immigrants (.57).

U.S, immigration stamp
Given Mr. Trump's virulent positions on immigration, we should not be shocked that he has alienated a large number of Latino voters.  Martin Prosperity Institute's survey concluded that the share of Latino population is having little impact on state-wide support for either candidate; Mr. Florida notes, "our correlations are statistically insignificant for both."

African-Americans have long formed the foundation of Democratic support.  Again, we se that the share of African-American population has had minute effect on statewide support for either candidate.  This was consistent across all three polls.

                   Clinton                                       Trump
Obama        0.95                                          -0.86

Romney     -0.94                                           0.87

Obama        0.84                                         -0.81
McCain     -0.82                                          0.82
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute, 

Setting aside Donald Trump's bizarre behavior on the campaign trail, this election cycle is not that different from the two previous cycles.  Both current candidates's support basically square with President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney's support in 2012.  Blue and Blue leaning states are correlated with at an overwhelming .95 with POTUS's state-level support in 2012; while Red and Red leaning states are correlated at .87 with the share won by Gov. Romney.

Bottom line, the Martin Prosperity Institute suggests that despite the outlier candidacy of Donald Trump during this election cycle, the United States remains a country divided along class and cultural issues.  Ron Brownstein and Leah Askarinam write in The Atlantic  ( of a bluer map during this cycle is the result of "...a relatively small number of denser more highly educated counties in swing states that are helping turn red states to blue."  However let us be honest, even if Secretary Hillary is elected President of the United States, however margin large or small, the United States remains a country divided along political and economic lines.

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