Monday, October 5, 2009

Where the Uninsured Are

NPR has a map of the uninsured by congressional district and by state.

without health insurance by congressional district map

On the face of it, it looks like the usual, albeit paradoxical, story: areas that vote more Democratic, and which support a broader social safety net, have less need of one, since fewer people are uninsured in those areas; whereas Republican-leaning areas, where support is presumably greater for the status quo (the maintaining of which seems to be the Republican approach to health care), tend to have more uninsured. Unfortunately, this map doesn't do a good job of letting you see urban congressional districts, so the appearance of the map could be rather unrepresentative of the country as a whole, and especially of Democratic-leaning areas (many of which are in cities).

However, you can also see uninsured numbers by state, which reveals that of the 26 states (counting DC as a state for wishful thinking purposes) where the uninsured are less than 15%, 21 were won by Obama in 2008. And of the 13 states where the uninsured are more than 20%, 10 were won by McCain. (McCain won 7 of the 12 15-20% states.) That's a rather striking correlation, no?

Meanwhile, Nate Silver uses math n' stuff to create a map that projects support for the public option for every congressional district:

nate silver's public option support map

Based on a few polls in certain states and districts, Nate created a regression analysis to project what support across every district in the US would likely be, based on a few variables, including poverty rate and Obama's vote share in the district. He found that:
-- The public option is estimated to have plurality support in 291 of the 435 Congressional Districts nationwide, or almost exactly two-thirds.
-- The public option is estimated to have plurality support in 235 of 257 Democratic-held districts.
-- The public option is estimated to have plurality support in 34 of 52 Blue Dog - held districts, and has overall popularity of 51 percent in these districts versus 39 percent opposed.
By implication, the public option was favored in 56 of the 178 Republican-held districts. Nate breaks out the projected support numbers for every district in his post.

Thanks to Matt Osborne for that one.

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

by definition Congressional districts are approximately equal pop so an ideal candidate for equal-area cartogram.

Andrew said...

Where is the paradox?

Couldn't it be that in Republican heavy areas, social misery factors such as these are highly concentrated among Democratic voters, while in Democratic areas, they are not?

Because, say, Republicans in the south and west could give a toot about social welfare systems that only benefit their opponents, while Democrats in the northeast and midwest take care of their own with their majority status.

Republicans, typically being married, employed, white, middle to upper-middle class family people would be very unlikely to need social welfare programs. Therefore, as a minority in the northeast and midwest, a political situation with higher social welfare spending has little effect on them, while in the south and west, they can create a political situation where a low tax regime does not permit vast spending on the rather larger number of poor Democrat constiuencies (blacks and hispanics).

Keep in mind that down south, white voters, while only about 60-70% of the electorate, vote up to 5 or 10 to 1 Republican. The social pathologies frequently chronicles on this site as affecting the Republican south are inordinately concentrated in the minority black and hispanic populations, two populations that are almost non-existant in many Democratic states like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maine, Wisconsin, etc.

Chachy said...

So in the South the Republican majority "doesn't give a toot" about the social misery of their neighbors (who are Democrats), but in other parts of the country the Democratic majority "looks after its own" by supporting a strong safety net? But that doesn't explain anything. Why don't non-Southern whites lean Republican in the same proportions as southern whites? Or why aren't southern whites more concerned for the social welfare of non-whites? The question is why southern whites vote Republican in the first place.

(And note that in the West, the Democrats are plenty competitive in most of the areas that have high rates of uninsured.)

Richard said...

Seems that the answer is because in the South, political affiliation/goals/motives are divided on racial lines while elsewhere, they are not.

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