According to a new analysis of tax and census data, Mitt Romney’s economic plan is heavily tilted towards big cities, but tough on the rural areas that comprise the GOP’s base. Barack Obama’s economic proposals lean the other way, offering little to wealthy urbanites, while delivering broad tax savings to the middle- and lower-class Americans spread across the South and Midwest.
The findings, released Thursday by a start-up called Politify, present a novel way to view the diverging economic promises in this recession election. In a race dominated by the rhetoric of deficits and the 99 percent, Politify says it offers unassailable data and objective answers for voters wondering how the candidates’ plans will affect their wallet, their neighborhood, or the whole country.
The most dramatic image—which organizers believe will spread quickly online—provides a geographic model of how the candidates’ plans for taxes and benefits will impact individual households. All the data is from the IRS and a US census survey. Nikita Bier, Politify’s founder, says this is the most granular model of campaign policy impact ever created. After he first ran the numbers, Bier recalls that he was “shocked” to see just how severely the results favored Obama’s plan:
The map clearly shows that Obama’s proposals benefit a larger portion of the electorate, but the visual effect is exaggerated, since the map is not weighted for population density.
Inquiring voters can also zoom in on any neighborhood for more detailed snapshots.
Take the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where the median price of a home is $1.3 million. There, 73 percent of residents do better under Romney’s plan than Obama’s.
The same goes for liberal enclaves in San Francisco: in one tony area on the Bay, 67 percent of residents would take home more under President Romney.
Yet in the heartland, the economic map skews just as strongly towards Obama. It is almost impossible, for example, to find any large areas of Ohio that don’t fare better under Obama’s plan:
Ohio remains a key swing state, of course, precisely because it is not reliable Obama country. Bier believes that could change if his model goes viral.
“If the candidates are clearly favoring your town and your household,” he says, “there’s very little reason you should vote opposite to that.”
Then again, Democrats have spent years asking people to stop “voting against their interests.” In the canonical 2004 book, What’s the Matter with Kansas, journalist Thomas Frank cataloged how Republicans convinced a generation of working-class voters to ignore their material interests in favor of “vague cultural grievances.” Through this “backlash culture,” Frank explains, the GOP campaigned on social issues but governed on “pro-business economics” once in office.