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Customer Review

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting material, but read the academic paper instead, October 13, 2008
This review is from: Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do (Hardcover)
I like it when books make clear that there's a paradox in the everyday way we discuss things. In Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, the paradox is as follows: rich people vote Republican, but rich states vote Democrat. Why is that?

Isn't that a lovely little problem? The answer is just as interesting: partisanship is much more important in poor states than it is in rich states. The poor in Texas and Mississippi are Democrat, while the rich are Republican. The poor and the rich in Connecticut -- the canonical other end of the wealth spectrum -- are about equally Democratic. Ohio, which is halfway between Mississippi and Connecticut on the income, is also divided in its party affiliation.

A host of questions fall out of this, among them: why, then, is Connecticut uniformly Democrat? To put it more precisely: why are the wealthy in Connecticut Democrats, where elsewhere they would be Republicans? Why are the wealthy Republicans? Why are the poor Democrats? And why does this partisan divide appear more in poor states than in wealthy ones?

The answers Gelman comes up with are quite interesting, but I'm not sure I'd recommend that you read this book to get them. Instead I might point you to Gelman's earlier paper, "Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State: What's the Matter with Connecticut?". (The title is a hat tip to Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.) The paper is a quicker read, and as such doesn't feel quite as repetitive as the book.
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