Inequality and Partisan Politics: A Discussion Between Andrew Gelman and David Frum

Follow the links from Gelman:

David Frum, author of “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again,” wrote an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday that has some interesting insights and but also suffers from some of the usual confusions about rich and poor, Democrats and Republicans. Overall I think Frum has some interesting things to say but I want to point out a couple of places where I think he may have been misled by focusing too strongly on the D.C. metropolitan area.

Income inequality and Democratic voting

Frum writes: “As a general rule, the more unequal a place is, the more Democratic; the more equal, the more Republican.” At least at the state level, it’s not so clear. Below is a map of the states with high income inequality (in dark colors) and low inequality (in light colors), revealing high-inequality Democratic states such as California and New York but also high-inequality Republican states such as Texas and Arizona, with the most unequal states being those with high immigration. Overall, the Democrats’ vote share by state is slightly correlated with income inequality, but much less than the correlation with income itself. It is in the rich states, but not consistently the unequal states, that Democrats are doing best: