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data and quotes after the jump

Everybody by now knows that last week, the AP reported Mitt Romney's bigoted remarks on prosperity versus culture:

"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."

emphasis added by me

Yesterday, in an opinion piece in the National Review Online, to try to explain away his gaffe, Mitt Romney wrote:

Culture Does Matter
By Mitt Romney
July 31, 2012 8:00 P.M.

"...the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity..."

Clearly, a data savy businessman like Romney must believe that the red states are less prosperous than the blue states because most red states are culturally deficient.

The 2010 US Census data shows that most of the poorest states are red states. In fact, 14 of the 15 states with the lowest per capita income are states which Romeny is currently counting in his win column:

1    D    Connecticut    $56,001.00
2    D    Massachusetts    $51,552.00
3    D    New Jersey    $50,781.00
4    D    Maryland    $49,025.00
5    D    New York    $48,821.00

36    R    Georgia    $35,490.00
37    R    Montana    $35,317.00
38    R    Tennessee    $35,307.00
39    R    Arizona    $34,999.00
40    R    Indiana    $34,943.00
41    R    Alabama    $33,945.00
42    R    South Dakota    $33,865.00
43    D    New Mexico    $33,837.00
44    R    Kentucky    $33,348.00
45    R    South Carolina    $33,163.00
46    R    Arkansas    $33,150.00
47    R    West Virginia    $32,641.00
48    R    Utah    $32,595.00
49    R    Idaho    $32,257.00
50    R    Mississippi    $31,186.00


While checking my data source I realized that only the population data was from the US Census. The economic data is from the US Dept of Commerace, Bureau of Economic Analysis. And the data was for the 2010 mid-year estimate, not the end of year actual data. In the 2010 end-of-year data the rankings shift around a small bit. The most notable change in rankings is that Michigan slipped down into the red-zoned neighborhood. So that rather than there being 14 out of 15, there are 15 out of 17 of the states in Romney's bad-culture category are red states (or 14 out of 17 if you think North Carolina is a toss-up).

Here's the actual per capita income at the end of years 2010 and 2011, sorted by the 2011 ranking:

RANK    R/D    STATE    2010    2011
34    R    Oklahoma    $35,389.00    $37,277.00
35    R    Montana    $35,053.00    $36,573.00
37    D    Michigan    $34,714.00    $36,533.00
36    R    Tennessee    $34,921.00    $36,533.00
38    R    North Carolina    $35,007.00    $36,164.00
39    R    Georgia    $34,747.00    $36,104.00
40    R    Arizona    $34,539.00    $35,875.00
41    R    Indiana    $33,981.00    $35,550.00
42    R    Alabama    $33,504.00    $34,650.00
43    D    New Mexico    $33,342.00    $34,575.00
44    R    Arkansas    $32,805.00    $34,014.00
45    R    Utah    $32,517.00    $33,790.00
46    R    South Carolina    $32,462.00    $33,673.00
47    R    Kentucky    $32,316.00    $33,667.00
48    R    West Virginia    $32,042.00    $33,513.00
49    R    Idaho    $31,897.00    $33,326.00
50    R    Mississippi    $31,071.00    $32,176.00

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