Ask the Bellows

John Holbo highlights some absurd argumentation on the part of David Frum, who writes:

Voters sense this truth. It’s an observable fact that those voters who care most deeply about equality – deeply enough to organize their lives to live in egalitarian communities – overwhelmingly vote Republican.

Take a look at a map of the state of Missouri. A recent study conducted by the state identified a dozen of the state’s 114 counties as “equality centers.” These equality centers were located on the outer fringes of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, and Springfield. Every single one of these highly egalitarian areas of the state voted overwhelmingly Republican.

Silliness. Back in March of last year, I wrote:

Now, via Economist’s View, I find this paper (PDF) which offers another way in which growth and urbanization might blue a red area. The author, Duke economist Jacob Vigdor, suggests that attitudes regarding redistributive economic policies depend upon the heterogeneity of a community–essentially, lower income earners are more likely to favor redistributive policies if they live in a heterogenous area. The idea is that relative economic standing is perhaps more important than absolute economic standing. Residents of homogenous and generally poor areas don’t favor Republican economic policies because they believe the odds of improving their standing are great, they favor them because the benefits of redistribution are likely to be small (as they see it).

It seems likely that the areas of red states experiencing significant population and economic growth are also those experiencing increases in economic inequality and general heterogeneity. If that is the case, then to the extent this phenomenon holds increases in political power in the south and west will be inseparable from increases in Democratic proclivities.