Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Archived: Pro-Democrat group says 9 of the 10 poorest states are Republican

Editor's note: This is the archived version of a fact-check we have since re-rated. See our new rating here.

"Nine out of the 10 poorest states are Red states."

Occupy Democrats on Thursday, December 26th, 2013 in a Facebook post

Pro-Democrat group says 9 of the 10 poorest states are Republican

True

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Facebook post by Occupy Democrats

The partisan blogosphere is filled with arguments over whether liberal or conservative policies are better for states. No matter what is proposed -- cutting the sales tax, raising the minimum wage, etc. -- someone can always come up with a state to cite as an example of why it's a good (or bad) idea.

But we were struck by this claim posted by the pro-Democrat group Occupy Democrats on Facebook:

"If Republican economic policies are so great for America, how come 9 out of the 10 poorest states are Red states?"

We're not going to rule on the cause-and-effect question posed by the posting. Yet because Red states have a reputation for being more business-friendly, and because many argue that pro-business policies lead to better lives for everyone, we wondered whether the Occupy Democrats' claim was correct.

When we emailed Occupy Democrats, founder Omar Rivero sent us links to several sources including a sortable Wikipedia table based on the 2010 U.S. Census, along with more recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. We also did our own search of the U.S. Census database.

We’ll start with the standard definition of a Red state: one that voted for the Republican candidate in the most recent presidential election.

It should be noted that there are different ways to measure poverty. Occupy Democrats says its claim is based on per-person income. We looked at that, along with median household income and median family income.

By all three measures, 9 out of the 10 poorest states voted Republican in the last presidential election. (In fact, they voted Red in the last four elections.)

According to the latest Census data, 9 of the 10 states with the lowest per-person income levels were Red: Mississippi, Arkansas, Idaho, West Virginia, Kentucky, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma.  

The Census data also show that 9 of the 10 states with the lowest median household income were Red: Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

And 9 of the 10 states with the lowest median family income were Red: Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana and South Carolina.

The only Blue state on each list: New Mexico.

By the way, 9 of the 10 states with the highest per-person income voted Blue in the 2012 presidential race: Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia and Washington. The only Red state on the list: Alaska.

Our ruling

Occupy Democrats said "Nine out of the 10 poorest states are Red states."

Whether you look at per-person, household, or family income, nine out of the ten poorest states voted Republican in the last four presidential elections.

The judges rule the statement is True.

(If you have a claim you’d like PolitiFact Rhode Island to check, email us at politifact@providencejournal.com. And follow us on Twitter: @politifactri.)

About this statement:

Published: Sunday, January 12th, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.

Subjects: Economy, Elections, Income, Poverty, Wealth

Sources:

Facebook.com, "Occupy Democrats's Page," Dec. 26, 2013, accessed Jan. 2, 2014

Email, Omar Rivero, founder, Occupy Democrats, Jan. 3, 2014

Wikipedia.org, "List of U.S. states by income," "Red states and blue states," "List of current United States governors," "List of United States state legislatures," "United States presidential election, 2012," all accessed Jan. 2-10, 2014

BBER.UMN.edu, "Per Capita Personal Income by State," Bureau of Business & Economic Research, University of New Mexico, April 2, 2013, accessed Jan. 8, 2014

FactFinder2.Census.gov, "Median Household Income (In 2012 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars)" and "Per Capita Income in the Past 12 Months (in 2011 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars)," U.S. Census Bureau, accessed Jan. 9, 2014

Written by: C. Eugene Emery Jr.

Researched by: C. Eugene Emery Jr.

Edited by: Tim Murphy