Thursday, November 06, 2008

What the Election Tells Us About the South

During this election, there was a crack in the Confederacy. Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia voted for Obama. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee went for McCain. Why did this happen and what does it mean?

Obama won those states because his campaign targeted them. They picked those three states and Georgia (where he came close) for two reasons: They had large black populations, and they had large white populations who had moved there from Democratic states. We can see why Mississippi wasn't targeted - we have a large black population but not many white Democrats move here. I wondered why people don't move here.

People in other states have a negative opinion of the South. Obviously, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia have done something to overcome that opinion. What do they have that Mississippi doesn't? I decided to go to the US Census web site to see what I could find.

These states are definitely growing. Since 1990, Florida's population has increased 41%, Georgia's 47%, North Carolina's by 37%, and Virginia's by 25%. And Mississippi has grown by only 13%. Why?

There was one interesting finding - a difference in the major industries. The main reason people move to another state is work. We were much lower in professional, scientific, management, and information industries - so we are not attracting these types of employees. Financial industries were also lower, but we might be grateful for that right now. We were higher in manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture. These are not industries that will bring people from out of state. One highlight was that we were higher in arts, entertainment, and recreation. Unfortunately, probably one reason this industry is high is due to our dependence on casinos. However, arts, entertainment, and recreation are areas where Mississippi has a good reputation, and we should probably put more of our resources into attracting these industries.

To be continued. . .

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