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Think blue counties are worse to live in than red counties? Think again.

Many of my Republican friends believe gun deaths and other forms of violence are worse in Blue states than in Red ones. The facts, as revealed in data from the recent census, as well as from the CDC and the IRS, tell a very different story.

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Many of my Republican friends believe gun deaths and other forms of violence are worse in Blue states than in Red ones. They deplore the poverty, homicides, suicides and drugs deaths in our largest cities, most of which are Blue.

The facts, as revealed in 2020 Census data and 2022 data from the Centers for Disease Control and the IRS, tell a very different story.

Dr. Mike Males, a senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, collected statistics that show nearly the reverse of what most Republicans claim.

Nationwide, counties governed by Republicans have an overall population of 77,933,000 people while counties governed by Democrats contain 102,801,000 people. The rest of the 350 million Americans apparently live in “purple” or “pink” counties.

Income levels

Average income levels, federal taxes paid, and GDP (Gross Domestic Product) are all higher in counties run by Democrats.

  • Income per capita is $45,900 in Democratic counties compared to $30,000 in Republican ones.
  • Federal taxes paid per capita in Blue counties is $8,111, nearly double the $4,549 in Red ones.

Deaths, homicides, suicides, and guns

  • Republican counties have more white deaths per 100,000 population (118) than do Democratic ones (86), and more non-white deaths (76 vs 69).
  • Homicides are higher per 100,000 in Red counties than in Blue ones: 4 to 2.5 for whites and 13 to 11 for non-whites.
  • Suicides per 100,000 are also higher: 23 to 17 for whites and 12 to 8 for non-whites.
  • Republican counties have 17.5 gun deaths for whites per 100k population; Democratic counties 8.7.
  • Republican counties have 17 gun deaths for non-whites per 100k population; Democratic counties have 12.

The only statistics where Republican counties are less bad than Democratic ones are in overdose deaths for non-whites, where Democratic counties have 42 per 100k population, and Republican counties 34.

Dr. Males claims these discrepancies between Republican and Democratic government make Republican America “like a second-world country” while “Democratic areas are a first world state.”

He wonders why progressive Democrats “inexplicably refuse to expose” these differences. He believes that “white economic failings” cause people to feel victimized and “that drives far-right voting that keeps them poor.” It is a vicious cycle that political leaders could end. 74% of the population in GOP counties are white while only 46% of those in Democratic counties are white. Republican leaders in these counties tell voters that evil outside forces (urban Democrats?) cause their poverty when in fact these same leaders have the power to improve the economy but chose not to do so.

High poverty rates in Red counties are evidence that Republicans do not care to invest in the lower middle and lower class. They resist investment in education, adequate health care, and other forms of social justice measures to improve human lives.

If I am wrong and the GOP wants to show that it really does care about all Americans, I suggest that Red county governments do the following:

  • Work to improve economic conditions for their people so that none of them feel the need to either sell or take drugs in order to survive in comfort;
  • Stop selling military weapons to poor, angry people. With double the gun deaths in Republican counties, I feel sure GOP lack of attention to gun violence is reducing the number of their potential voters;
  • Attract to your county businesses and factories that welcome and respect labor unions. Union wages will raise the per capita income figures and make your economy look a bit better and your workforce a bit happier;
  • Welcome more non-white people into your counties, even if they come by bus from Florida or Texas. Such folks, including refugees from wars and climate-induced food shortages in Central American countries, will work hard and raise your per capita income levels and gross domestic product levels.

These measures alone will not improve the economic balance between the Red and Blue counties, but they would be a good start, even if they are (shudder, shudder) taken from a Democratic playbook.

But I will keep that a secret if you will.


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Ken Wolf

Ken Wolf spent 40 years teaching European and World History, punctuated by several administrative chores, at Murray State University, retiring in 2008. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)



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