The other day I heard on the local news that Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate of the 50 states in the most recent report (Oct. 08). I also remembered seeing that Little Rhody was one of the states in which Obama faired the best. I was curious, so I looked up the stats on unemployment across the country and saw that many of the highest unemployment rates were in “blue” states and some most of the lowest rates were in “red” states. Of course there are some red states that are relatively worse and some blue states that are relatively better off, so I wanted to see how it really played out.
The easiest numbers to get were presidential election results by state. I assume that these states don’t just vote for liberal politicians in Presidential elections, they also vote for Democrats in most races. I pulled some numbers together into Excel, plotted them, and added a trendline. Below is the result for the 2008 election:
October 2008 Unemployment vs. 2008 Presidential Voting
I am not a statistician, and I recognize that the correlation isn’t the strongest (R^2 was around .1), but it sure looks like more than a coincidence. For the math-challenged, that equation basically says that unemployment goes up by nearly half a percent for every 10 percent of people that voted for Obama.
Does this shows me that the more liberal voters you have the higher your unemployment will be, or does it show the opposite? The higher the unemployment rate is, the more likely people will be to vote liberal. I realize that the 2008 presidential voting occurred after the time frame for which these unemployment numbers are valid. Some might argue that the high unemployment was the cause of the number of votes for Obama, so I pulled in the 2004 presidential election results and did the same “analysis.”
October 2008 Unemployment vs. 2004 Presidential
Here the relationship is even stronger, and the correlation tighter. The states that voted for the Democrat 4 years ago are the states with the highest current unemployment.
I realize that I’m comparing 2004 election results with unemployment stats from 4 years later, but this shows me that the states that voted Democratic 4 years ago have high unemployment now. If I was really interested and had the resources I would like to dig deeper into this, but for now I am going to take this as at least a small affirmation of my suspicions…