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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poverty and the Election

The Census Bureau has released its second annual report, The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2011, describing a new supplemental poverty measure. The new measure uses poverty thresholds that represent spending on a basic set of goods adjusted to reflect geographic differences in housing costs. Whereas the official measure includes only pre-tax money income., the supplemental measure adds the value of in-kind benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The  supplemental measure deducts from income necessary expenses for critical goods and services such as taxes and medical out-of-pocket costs.

According to the report, the supplemental poverty measure rate was 16.1 percent last year, compared with the official measure of 15.0 percent. Neither the supplemental measure nor the official poverty rate changed much from 2010.

Using three-year averages (2009-2011), the report found 10 states for which the official and supplemental rates were not statistically different.

In 15 states or equivalents, the the supplemental rates were higher than the official statewide poverty rates: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

For another 26 states, supplemental rates were lower : Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • Of the 15 states where the new measure was higher, all 15 voted Obama in 2012.
  • Of the 26 states where it was lower,  7 voted Obama and 19 voted Romney.
It is unclear whether this relationship is coincidental or represents social and economic influences on the election.