Uncomfortable Truths About Living in a Blue State

United States Activism
by Amanda Machado Jul 13, 2015

1. Blue states have the country’s highest levels of income inequality.

A Brookings Institute study looked at ten years of Bureau of Labor Statistics data and compared the wages between the top and bottom 25th percentiles in every state. The study found that in 2012, states that voted for Obama generally had the most income inequality. At the top of the list was Washington, DC followed by California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois.

The study also found that in the last ten years, these income gaps grew more in blue states than in red states. In blue states, the ratio between high and low incomes grew by almost 8%, whereas in red states, it barely reached 5%.

2. They also contain the most segregated schools in the country.

A report by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project found that out of all the regions in the United States, black students are most segregated in the Northeast. The paper found that in 2011, 51.4% of black students in the Northeast were enrolled in schools that were 90-100% students of color, the highest out of any other region in the States.

Looking at cities specifically, New York City had the highest rate of school racial segregation. 19 of 32 New York City school districts had a white student population of less than 10%. Every single district in the Bronx had this percentage, as did two-thirds of the districts in Brooklyn. For many black and Latino kids, their entire school experience involved never having a white classmate. On average, black students went to schools where only 17.7% of kids were white.

Segregation has a direct impact on student performance. Several studies have shown that students of color who attend segregated schools perform worse than students from schools with more racial and economic diversity.

3. They have the greatest inequities in public school funding.

From 2011 to 2012, several blue states led the nation in providing more money to students in wealthier districts than in poor ones. Pennsylvania topped the list: per-pupil spending in the state’s poorest school districts was 33 percent lower than its spending in the wealthiest school districts. Vermont came in second with a difference of 18 percent, followed by Illinois, Missouri, and Virginia with a difference of 17%.

Missouri and Virginia prove that this isn’t just a blue state problem. Nationwide, all states on average spend 15% less per pupil in poorer school districts than in more affluent ones. Yet for liberal states that often pride themselves in their inclusive politics, such substantial inequality in school funding seems significantly misaligned with their political values.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan decried these statistics claiming that they made clear that our public school system was still “separate and unequal.”

4. Living in a big city in a blue state is essentially unaffordable for the middle class.

Blue state big cities have rents so high that they’ve become essentially inaccessible to the middle class. Topping the list: San Francisco, followed by New York, Boston, DC, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Miami, Seattle, and San Diego — all cities found in states that voted for Obama in 2012. San Francisco’s median price per month for a studio apartment came in at $2,295, while tenth ranked San Diego still had a pricey median studio apartment rent of $1,095.

According to an Atlantic article, this trend is common among many blue cities. A study divided the country’s largest cities into 32 “red” cities, 40 “light-blue” cities where Obama won by fewer than 20 points, and 28 “dark-blue” cities where he won by more than that. The pattern continued: the bluer the city, the more housing affordability was a main concern.

5. Though their policies may be liberal, their citizens are not necessarily open-minded.

Though New York and Boston are two of the most liberal cities in the United States, in two of the most heavily blue states in the country, they were also ranked first and second respectively in 2011 among all US cities for the number of hate crimes reported. Los Angeles came in third.

If you looked at data on a per capita basis, Boston would easily take the top spot. With a population of only 625,000 residents, the city’s 200-plus cases of hate crimes is an astoundingly high ratio compared to the ration in New York or Los Angeles. The whole state of Massachusetts ranked fourth among all US states in amount of reported incidents and Harvard University was the higher education institution with the most reports in the country. Almost half of Boston’s reported hate crimes were race related.

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