Monday, June 30, 2014

Politics And Race In Those 10 Worst Counties To Live In In America


This morning, Taegan Goddard took a look at the much-talked-about NY Times piece from a few days ago, Where Are The Hardest Places To Live In The U.S.? Clay County, Kentucky was the hardest and the Times compared Clay to Los Alamos County by showing specific contrasts: "Only 7.4 percent of Clay County residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, while 63.2 percent do in Los Alamos. The median household income in Los Alamos County is $106,426, almost five times what the median Clay County household earns. In Clay County, 12.7 percent of residents are unemployed, and 11.7 percent are on disability; the corresponding figures in Los Alamos County are 3.5 percent and 0.3 percent. Los Alamos County’s obesity rate is 22.8 percent, while Clay County’s is 45.5 percent. And Los Alamos County residents live 11 years longer, on average-- 82.4 years vs. 71.4 years in Clay County. Clay and Los Alamos Counties are part of the same country. But they are truly different worlds."

The rankings were accomplished "looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.”
The 10 lowest counties in the country, by this ranking, include a cluster of six in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky (Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Magoffin), along with four others in various parts of the rural South: Humphreys County, Miss.; East Carroll Parish, La.; Jefferson County, Ga.; and Lee County, Ark.

As [Annie] Lowrey writes, this combination of problems is an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon. Not a single major urban county ranks in the bottom 20 percent or so on this scale.
Can you guess where the political sympathies of these poor desperately difficult counties lie? Perhaps Alexandra Pelosi's video for Bill Maher about Mississippi up top gave you a clue. When it comes to choosing between the party that spits on the poor and is slavishly serving the interests of the 1% and the party that at least has some commitment to making life better for the poor and downtrodden… well, let's look at the 2012 election results between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in each. (Spoiler: Romney won each white majority county and Obama won each black majority county.)
Breathitt, KY (98.69% White)- 3,318 (66%)- 1,562 (31%)
Clay, KY (93.92% White)- Romney 6,176 (84%)- Obama 1,111 (15%)
Jackson, KY (99.17% White)- Romney 4,365 (86%)- Obama 612 (12%)
Lee, KY (95.10% White)- Romney 1,977 (75%)- Obama 595 (23%)
Leslie, KY (97.18% White)- Romney 4,439 (90%)- Obama 433 (9%)
Magoffin, KY (98.6% White)- Romney 3,391 (69%)- Obama 1,433 (29%)
Humphreys, MS (74.5% Black)- Obama 3,399 (76%)- Romney 1,069 (24%)
East Carroll Parish, LA (67.29% Black)- Obama 2,244 (66%)- Romney 1,122 (33%)
Jefferson, GA (54.4% Black)- Obama 4,238 (58%)- Romney 2,992 (41%)
Lee, AR (55.3% Black)- Obama 2,107 (62%)- Romney 1,280 (37%)
That Pelosi video isn't really about Mississippi per se. It's about white people in all these poor counties. I wish I had the county breakdowns for addiction to Hate Talk Radio and Fox.

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