Saturday, January 07, 2012

Racial variation by state

++Addition++Razib explains why the quest for the representative state is doomed to fail.

I should point out that I'm not arguing much of anything in this post but instead have created a list that does just what it is purported to do--show by what amount each state deviates from the national mean when it comes to the racial composition of its population. And yes, I'm aware that Hispanic is technically a linguistic and/or cultural label, not a racial classification, but for all intensive purposes, Hispanics are treated as a distinct racial group in the US as much as Asians are.

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Andrea Mitchell's highly publicized assertion that Iowa is 'too' white, rural, and evangelical made me wonder which state is the most racially representative of the country as a whole.

The proceeding table is constructed from 2010 census data. I took the absolute differences between each state's (non-Hispanic) white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and other (primarily Native American) population percentages and that of the US as a whole in each of the respective racial categories and then added those values together to come up with a racial variance score for each state. The higher the score, the more divergent a state's racial demographics are from the national mean, the lower the score, the more racially representative the state is of the country it is part of:

State
Variance
1. Illinois
3.8
2. New Jersey
12.0
3. New York
14.2
4. Connecticut
15.0
5. Virginia
17.2
6. Florida
19.2
7. Delaware
20.8
8. North Carolina
21.0
9. Colorado
21.4
10. Rhode Island
25.4
11. Massachusetts
25.8
12. Arkansas
27.2
13. Nevada
28.2
13. Washington
28.2
15. Michigan
29.0
16. Kansas
29.8
16. Kentucky
29.8
18. Oklahoma
31.4
18. South Carolina
31.4
20. Pennsylvania
31.6
21. Tennessee
32.0
22. Arizona
32.8
23. Oregon
33.0
24. Alabama
33.8
25. Missouri
34.6
26. Ohio
34.8
27. Maryland
35.0
28. Utah
35.2
29. Indiana
35.6
30. Georgia
35.8
31. Nebraska
36.8
32. Louisiana
38.8
33. Wisconsin
39.2
34. Minnesota
39.6
35. Alaska
40.2
36. Idaho
41.4
37. Texas
42.6
38. Wyoming
46.4
39. Mississippi
48.8
40. Iowa
50.0
41. New Hampshire
57.2
42. South Dakota
57.6
43. North Dakota
59.0
43. West Virginia
59.0
45. Montana
59.6
46. California
60.0
47. Vermont
61.2
48. Maine
61.4
49. New Mexico
74.2
50. District of Columbia
76.2
51. Hawaii
118.8

Here is a visualization of the table, the lighter the shading, the more racially representative the state is.

My presumption was that the Upper Midwest would be the country's most representative region. It has a small but significant and historically established black population, and while it's not nearly as Hispanic as the Southwest, the brown wave has begun lapping up on its shores. With Illinois at the top of the list with a racial composition that nearly mirrors that of the entire country, that presumption might look pretty impressive. However, excepting Illinois, a big chunk of the other most representative states come from the Northeast (excluding the Northeast's lily white northeastern section!) and Mid-Atlantic.

It comes as little surprise that the seat of our federal government rests in one of the most demographically unrepresentative places in the country.

Iowa (and New Hampshire) are both near the bottom of the list on account of being substantially whiter than the country on the whole. Florida, which holds primary #4 at the end of January, is the first in the nominating process that isn't too something, although it's highly doubtful that we'll hear any major media types suggest that South Carolina, which comes before Florida, is "too black".

Parenthetically, the putative "too evangelical" rap is off the mark, setting aside contentious reactions to the supercilious use of the word "too". The Pew Religious Landscape Survey finds that 24% of Iowans are evangelical, compared to 26% of the US population on the whole. The state is, from a religious perspective, one of the country's most representative.

As for rurality, Iowa comes in as the country's 36th most densely populated. Missouri, at 28th, most closely reflects the US as a whole.

5 comments:

Son of Brock Landers said...

The NY Times race maps also show which states who supposedly look close to the national average are in fact just anchored by one large metro area that makes them look diverse. What is Illinois without Chicago's black and Latino pop? Missouri w/o St. Louis? Aside from the South for blacks and the Southwest for Hispanics, it is amazing how clustered minorities are in America.


It reminds me of a joke from a friend in Maine. Maine is .6% black (maybe 10K total statewide), but every Sat night you'll find 20 at the strip club.

Jokah Macpherson said...

To the extent that a trend exists, it looks like states are slightly more representative the closer they are to the geographic center of the country. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise.

Jon Claerbout said...

When I see Vermont right next to California I wonder if you have come up with a statistic with no sensible interpretation.

Audacious Epigone said...

Son of Brock Landers,

When it comes to the primaries, I'd guess the argument is, it's one person, one vote, so even though whites in Iowa tend to have about the same amount of meaningful interaction with blacks as whites in Mississippi do, in Iowa it's only whites who are doing the voting, while in Mississippi blacks get a say, too.

Of course, this is irrelevant when it comes to Republican politics, since whites are the only ones voting in GOP primaries anyway, whether it be in New Hampshire or South Carolina (or hell, even DC for that matter).

Jon,

Right. There's not much to draw from this list other than exactly what it purports to show--how far each state deviates from the national mean when it comes to the racial composition of its population.

Mark said...

Andrea Mitchell is an ugly, rat-faced Jewess that dyes her hair blonde to try and appear White.

She was married to a Negro.

Of course she hates White people and especially when there are too many of them. Oy vey, if she has to compete with White women she loses every time.