Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are Welfare Recipients mostly Republican?

Paul Krugman is in puzzlement, having observed that Red States get more welfare funding, while Republican voters oppose the welfare state. He portrays Republicans as “Moochers” who are either hypocritical or too stupid to know their own best interest.

But as we know, states do not vote, individuals do. There is only a paradox if Republican voters receive welfare at above average rates while voting against it. From the Gellman-paradox we know that the low-income voters who drag down the Red States average tend to vote disproportionally for Democrats. Republican voters earn significantly more than Democrats, even though Red state earn less than Blue states.

Krugman reports no individual level data, so let me. The Maxwell Poll has detailed information about welfare use. The data is from 2004-2007. During this period in these polls a plurality of voters supported Democrats. I will graph the two-party vote, more data is at the end.


Hardly surprising, we see that in a two-party split, 60-80% of welfare recipients are Democrats, while full time Workers are evenly divided between parties.

You have similar results in this recent NPR-Poll. Among the Long Term Unemployed, 72% of the two-party support goes to Democrats.

It appears that once more common sense is right and the impression left by the New York Times wrong. Indeed, people who live off the government disproportionally support Democrats.

Given that Krugman is aware of the Gellman-Paradox, he should have reported the individual level data first instead of wasting everyone’s time with state-level aggregation that we already know is wrong. Instead he acknowledged that state level data is probably wrong (to get cover), then goes ahead and relies on the wrong method anyway, since it produces the results he wants. The false impression that Republicans use more welfare is already spread around the internet by liberals who still trust Krugman.

Appendix:

Share of Recipients of each program that self-identified as supporters of Republican party in 2004-2007 Maxwell Poll:

Gov. Subsidized Housing 12%
Medicaid: 16%
Food Stamps: 20%
Unemployment Compensation: 21%
Welfare or public assistance: 22%
Disability benefits from government 25%

84 comments:

  1. Well that is fascinating as usual.

    I had been wondering recently if the economic right is often associated with conservative social and religious policies as a way to attract voters who would otherwise be drawn to the left's promise of free education, free healthcare, etc. That is, they might attract poorer people especially by identifying themselves with nationalism and religion, since the promise of free markets might not be as appealing. I'm really not sure, and now you show that the poor beneficiaries of welfare tend to vote for the left anyway, so you have me reconsidering.

    I blogged about these thoughts here anyway, lest you be curious :)
    http://shaneleavy.blogspot.com/2012/01/economic-rights-god-and-nation-thing.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your original thought is correct. The right is not winning welfare beneficiaries, but low income private sector workers.

      Republicans need to paint a picture of Democrats as elites. People who want to take their money to squander on affluent public unions, global warming, welfare, opera, etc. And they need to tell voters that Democrats are against religion, and their fundamental values.

      Without poorer voters, Republicans wouldn't be able to win elections.

      Delete
    2. Interestingly the poor appear to less Religious than others in the USA.
      http://mikemagee.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/poor-white-americans-are-no-longer-attending-church/

      The less educated are disappearing from the American religious sector, as well as disappearing from the American labor market.

      Over the past 40 years, wages have fallen and rates of unemployment have risen markedly for moderately educated men, while wages have remained stagnant for moderately educated women. During the same period, the moderately educated have become less likely to hold family centered beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college educated adults. For the least educated, those without high school degrees, the economic situation has been worse, and they have also become less likely to hold family centered beliefs, and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college educated adults.

      Delete
    3. Except I believe it would be unconstitutional for a government agency to ask someone their party, so where do these stats come from? Answer they come from an assumption. Not an intelligent guess but a very partisan one.

      Delete
    4. This simplifies things.

      Ethnic minorities tend to support Democrats, African Americans especially, at over 90%, and they are also among the poorest. When you look at the actual population density of areas that receive a sizable amount of welfare, it is overwhelmingly stretched over the conservative South and Midwest.

      This is also not factoring in wasteful defense spending, which one might consider "welfare" since they are simply contractual obligations layered onto spending bills by representatives seeking to keep jobs in their districts.

      Statewide statistics are pretty essential in understanding the politics of welfare and its distribution. Rural areas tend to vote Republican and those districts generally receive MORE WELFARE PER CAPITA than do affluent cities with (ever shrinking) poor minority populations. Why is that important? Because, as I'm sure you know, district voting and its many racially motivated gerrymanderings determine the congressional makeup of this country. That's what Paul Krugman is referring to.

      Delete
  2. JW:

    It is important to know that religious and church-going depend in different ways with income.

    The poor are still more religious in many datasets, but the rich go to church more.

    Going to church is an active act of civic participation, so organized middle class people are more likely to do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another way to look at it is geographic. Many inner city churches have disappeared or cut way back on services due to lack of funding, older building upkeep, crime, and diminishing membership. Meanwhile more new suburban mega-churches have appeared in wealthier neighborhoods, too far away for poorer people to attend. Thus a decrease in poor attendance and an increase in rich attendance.

      The other factor may be jobs. People who are more well-off tend to have greater flexibility in their work hours, either working 8-5 M-F or being able to set aside specific time for church activities. Meanwhile people lower on the economic rung don't have the leverage to demand time off, tend to work weekends more often, and will put economic status over social status.

      Delete
  3. While I always enjoy the data-driven analysis that your blog provides, I think that this case is particularly fraught with potential self-reporting bias. I would imagine that republicans would be highly embarrassed to report receiving benefits in comparison to democrats who likely would not have such reservations. In the same token, what construes a 'benefit' is subject to interpretation by the respondent and this could be skewed depending on political leanings. I'm reminded of the anecdote about high percentage of elderly individuals that at once support and approve of Medicare while opposing government intervention in health-care (insert tongue into cheek here).

    Of course, my imaginative interpretation of respondents intentions and biases is fraught with my own subjectivity, but that subjectivity is no more likely then the interpretation of individuals actually telling the truth - and therein lies the problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're exactly right, I've read studies that show people who receive medicare, unemployment, workman's comp, student loans and social security all report that they do not use "government assistance". Combined with your theory about self-reporting bias I think it is pretty clear we don't have the whole picture here.

      Delete
    2. But you are both wrong. The study this is based on asked respondents very specific questions about the type of benefit received. See for yourself. The link to the data set is in this post.

      Delete
  4. Adam:

    This is a poll of the entire population asking lots of questions, not a poll of partisans asking one question. The overwhelming majority of people don't care as much as you do care about politics. Supporting Republicans or leaning Republican is not a major part of most people's identity, large enough to make them lie about welfare use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Supporting Republicans or leaning Republican is not a major part of most people's identity, large enough to make them lie about welfare use."

      LOL please tell me that was intended as sarcasm, because otherwise you are VERY out of touch with the way people in America think

      Delete
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  11. Too bad you distort the poll to exclude Independent voters from your equation. I used your article in one of my classes to illustrate the need to evaluate source material. Thanks for reinforcing the need to check sources!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This reminds me that all politics is local, and that in most parts of this country there are valid tax reasons for low-income voters to prefer Democrats over Republicans.

    I am a low-wage (max wage $8.50 per hour) worker who for many years lived in Michigan and generally voted Democrat...because Michigan Republicans never met a regressive tax they didn't like, and were quite fond or proposing and supporting regressive tax measures.

    Then I moved to a different state where Republicans hate regressive taxes just as much as they hate progressive taxes - and where Democrats are not averse to regressive taxes in the pursuit of more revenue to spend...so now I vote Republican. If I were on some government program, I'm confident I would be even more hostile to regressive taxes - and those politicians who support such taxes - than I am as a worker.

    Also, as a person which a "rent slave" mindset, I suspect there are substantial political differences between "rent slaves" (renters who have no hope or expectation of owning a home), aspiring homeowners (renters who expect to become homeowners and are making progress in that direction), and actual homeowners. I suspect that homeowners are the most "Republican" group of low-income voters and rent slaves the most "Democrat" due to tax policies affecting homeowners and renters differently. The tax breaks afforded homeowners (state and local preferential rates, etc, in addition to the federal tax breaks) often far exceed handouts given to welfare recipients, so I'm not sure that Democrats get more goodies from government than do Republicans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. " I suspect that homeowners are the most 'Republican' group of low-income voters and rent slaves the most 'Democrat' due to tax policies affecting homeowners and renters differently. The tax breaks afforded homeowners (state and local preferential rates, etc, in addition to the federal tax breaks) often far exceed handouts given to welfare recipients, so I'm not sure that Democrats get more goodies from government than do Republicans."

      That is the flawed thinking that most liberals and socialists promote. Tax breaks are NOT the same thing as benefits ("goodies"). It just means that the government is stealing less of my money overall. What is hard to understand about that?

      Delete
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  23. The errant conclusion in the above post is that the poor vote overwhelmingly democratic. While this is true on the national scale, the red States have very many poor white people that vote Republican. If they didn't, those poorer States would all be blue, not red.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Lets throw in a different dynamic: It is a fact that the poorest states in the union are and vote Republican, i.e., governor, legislature, policies. Tell me then, if the Republican economic model is the solution to this countries economic woes, and will lead us down the road to prosperity, then why has it failed so bad in these states?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Let alone the fact that the data is extremely outdated...
    Numbers lie, and in the right hands they lie for either side...

    ReplyDelete
  26. It is lunacy to write an article and attach the links from the polls you are using and then provide misinformation. You state, “You have similar results in this recent NPR-Poll. Among the Long Term Unemployed, 72% of the two-party support goes to Democrats.”

    The NPR poll states that 72% do not support the Tea Party. Period. To assume that one has to be Democrat if they don’t support the Tea Party undermines the whole use of polls to back up your information in the first place and has discredited any attempt you made to appear factual. The poll shows that 37% of the unemployed consider themselves Democrat - Factual. To state that 72% of the two party support goes to Democrats is unfounded and blatant misuse of the polling statistics to attempt to garner support for your theory.

    Your article dismisses important information located on your very link in order to come up with an argument to prove your point. For example, did you notice when the polled were asked about Federal and State assistance, over half said they received “no help at all” and over a third said “a little help.” Also interesting, the polled overwhelmingly (almost ¾) stated that they did not get help from organizations, former employers or their churches. It appears, the help has come from their “family and friends.” 42% went into their unemployment funds. Unemployment funds which of course are covered by the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, an act which is looked at as a social welfare benefit, but is also paid into by each employee during the course of their tenure. 20% stated they received food stamps. 86% stated they are not receiving unemployment benefits and 62% state they never received unemployment benefits. Over 50% have a spouse that is working or a part time job. 45% stated their jobs went overseas. Almost 40% feel they having trouble getting a job because of their age. Over half are not covered by health insurance or govt heath insurance programs at all.

    Now 60% say they vote or “nearly always” vote. Of those 37% are Democrat, 18% Republican and 34% Independent. And, to top it off, the number reporting is highest in the red dominated south.

    The use of misinformation discredited your entire article. Next time stick to the facts when making a point and you will be taken more seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Why don't you delve into the numbers at the state to state level?

    I'd like to see, for those red states specifically, how many voters receiving welfare are Democrats versus Republicans. It doesn't seem to track that those states have a lower percentage of democratic voters, and welfare voters are primarily democrats, but a receive a higher percentage of their income in welfare funding than blue states.

    This would seem to require either that there is a core group of poor people in the red states who receive a large amount of welfare funding, while making up a minority of the electorate, or something along the lines of larger percentage of the population of those red states receive some level of government handout (such as the earned income credit) and this group includes many Republicans.

    I find it strange that you would criticize Krugman for making misleading generalizations, and then turn around and post a graph which appears to be representative of the entire nation, rather than the specific red states in question.

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  29. So what you've found is that the rich (those that don't need/use help) vote Republican. Shocker.

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  33. You're report is misleading. Maxwell's survey included the following question regarding party affiliation. I've included the 2007 results.

    Q: Politically, do you generally regard yourself as liberal, moderate, or conservative, or do none of those apply? (2007)

    Liberal - 24.9
    Moderate - 28.6
    Conservative - 34.2
    None - 12.3

    ReplyDelete
  34. I don't know if I buy any figures until they come from a reputable source. I'm a Democrat that has owned several homes. I have never drawn any sort of state or federal assistance--no welfare, no WIC, no unemployment, no social security or disability. I hate the Republican mindset that "I GOT MINE, SO SCREW YOU." I only know one deadbeat, and she already gets free dental and medical, and it would take an act of God to get her to vote. Deadbeats, by definition, don't want to do anything, and that includes rolling out of bed to go to work or to vote.

    In fact, growing up in rural West Virginia, almost all deadbeats were Republican, voting red for "moral" and religious reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  35. 1. “The NPR poll states that 72% do not support the Tea Party. Period.”

    Nope, it also specifically asks: “In politics today, do you consider yourself a (Republican), (Democrat), an Independent, or what?” That is the data I used when I wrote that among the long term unemployed, 72% of the two-party support goes to Democrats.

    “lunacy” “provide misinformation”. “unfounded and blatant misuse of the polling statistics” “misinformation" "discredited your entire article”.

    Instead of a stream of anger you could have put mot effort in reading the poll, or asked me to direct you.

    2. “Why don't you delve into the numbers at the state to state level?”

    Sample size is too small, and political scientists have shown that for these issues state level is misleading.

    “This would seem to require either that there is a core group of poor people in the red states who receive a large amount of welfare funding”.

    Indeed Red states in the south have a lot of on average low-income African American voters who overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

    3. “I don't know if I buy any figures until they come from a reputable source.”
    You can click on the link to reputable NPR and see yourself.

    “growing up in rural West Virginia, almost all deadbeats were Republican.”

    Even in West Virginia, the poorest tend to vote Democrat. In 2008 (no exit polls for 2012 for West Virginia were conducted) according to CNN those earning less than $30.000 voted 62-37 for Obama while those making more than $100.000 went for McCain 59-39. I am not asking you to trust me, click on the link and see for yourself.

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#val=WVP00p2

    This is the core of Gelman’s paradox, the poor people in poor Red-states lean Democrat, and the rich in rich Blue states lean more Republican.

    Connecticut is the richest state in the country, and fairly Blue. In 2012 Obama got 73% of the vote of those making less than $50.000 while Romney actually narrowly *won* those making more than $200.000 in Connecticut.

    Knowing that Connecticut is rich and blue while West Virginia is poor and red is misleading, since within Connecticut the richer you are, the less Democrat are you while in West Virginia the affluent are Republican while the poor are Democrat. This is why state-level analyses is inappropriate.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/election-results-2012/

    4. “So what you've found is that the rich (those that don't need/use help) vote Republican. Shocker.”

    I agree, it is trivial. Republicans have higher income, and higher income individuals tend to get less welfare. What is interesting is that liberals have convinced themselves of the opposite (so they get to hate Republicans both for being rich/ greedy and poor/ on welfare) and react with rage when I point out the trivial.

    ReplyDelete
  36. All of the Republican candidates promise to create jobs and fix the economy and lower the deficit. I would like to know how this will be done if the Democrats control at least one house of congress. Why should the Democrats work with a republican president when the republicans refuse to cooperate with President Obama.

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Why should the Democrats work with a republican president when the republicans refuse to cooperate with President Obama."

      Why did the Democrats refuse to cooperate with Bush when he was President?

      Delete
  37. I don't believe Paul Krugman's puzzlement was based on the individuals receiving welfare, but the states receiving the federal dollars.
    If Welfare was handed back to the states, those red states would lose more federal dollars than they would gain from the accompanying tax cuts, meaning sharp increases in state taxes to fund the welfare that was now a state responsibility, and a net tax increase to all voters in question (well, at least those who paid taxes).

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  43. as we know, states do not vote, individuals do. There is only a paradox if Republican voters receive welfare at above average rates while voting against it. From the Gellman-paradox we know that the low-incowww.needrapidcash.com

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  47. "You have similar results in this recent NPR-Poll. Among the Long Term Unemployed, 72% of the two-party support goes to Democrats."

    You really need re-take Poli-sci 101 again to learn how to read a poll. 72% of the combined long term unemployed and long term part-time do not support the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement is not the Republican Party. As, to the party divide its basically in thirds Republican, Democrat and Independent.

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  48. "1. “The NPR poll states that 72% do not support the Tea Party. Period.”

    Nope, it also specifically asks: “In politics today, do you consider yourself a (Republican), (Democrat), an Independent, or what?” That is the data I used when I wrote that among the long term unemployed, 72% of the two-party support goes to Democrats."

    If that was case, the line in your article would read, 42% of the two-party support goes to Democrats.

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  49. The best you could hope to do is count the democratic leaning independents to get to 52%, but really this does nothing for your argument as 83% of these people do not receive welfare benefits.

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  50. The Maxwell data doesn't support your graph. 148 out of 850 Democrats received welfare according to the data you linked. 17.4% is much less than the 63% in your graph. In fact, even if you assume that all welfare recipients in that poll are democrat, which they are not, you only get 415 out of 850 for 48.8% which is of course less the 63% you claim.

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