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Blue Model Blues
The Most Trusted State Governments Are Red

Bad news for the blue model at the state level: According to a recent Gallup poll, red states are home to some of the most trusted state governments in the country, and blue states are home to some of the least. The four states whose governments have the highest “confidence” ratings—North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana—are all red, while the four states whose governments have the lowest ratings—Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey—are all deep blue. (Note: The terms red and blue refer to governing models, not partisan affiliation of the current state leadership; blue New Jersey has a Republican governor, and red Montana has a Democratic governor).

Three of the four blue states most facing a confidence crisis are suffering from acute blue model decay in the form of runaway public pension costs. Illinois, according to the New York Times, is “facing one of the worst fiscal crises of any state in recent decades, largely because it has mismanaged its pension system.” Connecticut, despite being the wealthiest state per capita in the union, “has roughly half of what it needs to pay future retirement benefits for its workers,” according to the Wall Street Journal. And Moody’s recently warned New Jersey that it could face yet another credit downgrade if it loses a forthcoming pension lawsuit. (Rhode Island’s situation is less urgent, but still worrisome). Meanwhile, of the red state governments topping the list, all are comparatively fiscally healthy.

Of course, not all red states beat out their blue competitors. Louisiana and Kansas both do relatively poorly (we’ve written before about why Kansas’ “red dawn” fizzled out). But the states with the biggest entrenched blue model bureaucracies are some of the most poorly governed in the country, and that their residents know it. How long before they stand up to Big Blue and try something new?

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  • Pait

    The 5 top states – the red states before the 1st blue one appears – are all small, with combined population close to that of Massachusetts, the bluest of the blue, which is not that far behind. That suggests that the correlation is fortuitous, if not spurious. “The most trusted state governments are those of sparsely populated Western states” would be a more accurate headline. File under “torture a number, it will confess anything”.

    • Andrew Allison

      Nice try, but if we’re going to talk about population, there are orders of magnitude more Blues than Reds lacking confidence in their State governments.

      • Pait

        Perhaps, but I wasn’t trying anything – just stating that counting states doesn’t establish a pattern. I didn’t try and wouldn’t know exactly how to get the numbers you referred to – not sure I even understand what “more Blues than Reds” would mean. Count individual party affiliations? Ideological leanings? Or just which state they live in?

        • Andrew Allison

          The subject which you raised was relative numbers of residents of Blue and Red states.

          • Pait

            No, I was sticking to Blue and Red states as in the article, and I pointed out that the Red states where government is best regarded have something else in common.

            As I wrote it wasn’t a try, just a notice that it is difficult to support any theory with little data.

          • Andrew Allison

            “The 5 top states – the red states before the 1st blue one appears – are all small, with combined population close to that of Massachusetts, . . . “

          • Pait

            It is not clear what you are trying to say here.

        • bannedforselfcensorship

          Louisiana and Kansas are red states. which other states are you claiming are red?

    • jhp151

      Valid point on population. Rhode Island on the list of least trusted causes a problem with that theory. I propose a counter theory: Trusted governments tend to be ideologically united with a super majority of their populous. That the trusted / distrusted is really a representation of the perception of government bending the rules to achieve a goal that the populous disagrees with.

      • Pait

        Everyone seems to agree that Rhode Island government is a mess, but it enjoys a consistent majority of the voters, so I’m not sure I agree with your theory. Perhaps on the contrary, disputed and fractious governments might work better because the powers don’t get too comfortable.

        (Massachusetts might be an argument for the theory. Government was not so great for quite a while. Now an overwhelmingly Democratic voters have been picking a 100% Democratic legislature and more often than not Republican governors. None of them are very good – Romney was less absentee of the bunch although his heart wasn’t really there either, except for passing Romneycare. Nevertheless, the state of the Commonwealth seems to be improving 😉

        I still think that data is insufficient to judge.

        • jhp151

          Rhode Island leans Democrat based on number of registered voters, however based on recent elections (and pundits) there is a distinct divide within the state. As an example the most recent race for Governor resulted in a 40.7% D / 36.2% R / 21.4% M vote split between three candidates. The Providence Mayoral Election was even more divided. The State also has a new bloc of Democrat leaning voters fighting for control with an existing bloc of Democrat leaning voters.

          • Pait

            Makes a lot of sense for the voters to want change, considering what I hear from government there.

      • werewife

        “Populace.” Not to be pedantic (even though that’s exactly what I am being – sorry!), but placing the homophone adjective in the place of the noun distracts one from your interesting point.

    • victoria wilson – mn

      I think there is a tie between the size of the state and its ability to enjoy an unencumbered social economic model- and the conservative philosophy follows the more natural principles of work through reciprocity to achieve a public commitment. But when the size of a group grows there is tendency to break off into sub-groups who create their own reality of public, of the hierarchy of need within that group. Haven’t you heard an individual with complete sincerity ask how they can possibly live on $!50K/yr? Meanwhile a whole neighborhood nearby subsides on family incomes of $28K/yr. The larger the state the more rutted the subgroups, where the social realities of a five-mile-afar community is as foreign as one in Liberia. And hence the deterrence of reciprocal relationships so vital to social economics. The Liberal solution is to translate such work- the transference of goods and services through person to person exchanges sharing the same public objective- into dollars. But the beauty of the socially unfettered dollar that gave birth to the industrial revolution is the bane to solving our social issues. For unfettered social dollars are easily stolen and hence attract thieves and corruption.

      • Pait

        I think you make a good point. Something similar can be said about smaller countries – it’s simply easier to get a consensus in Denmark or Sweden than in the US. The consensus may or may not be the one preferred by any given ideology, but things just work more smoothly.

        On the other hand…. there had to be an other hand… Rhode Island may be a current counter example (I’m not 100% sure but it’s reasonable to think so). More fundamentally, some things are hard to do in a small country, or an excessively independent minded state – national defense for sure, and environmental policy as well. Enemies care less about how smoothly your internal affairs are, and more about how large your army is. And pollution doesn’t know national or state borders.

        • victoria wilson – mn

          At the state level police forces are the ones to ensure personal security. Low crime rates in recent years would indicate successful social interactions between the police and the communities they serve. And the (for the most part) peaceful yet persistent activity of Black Lives Matter also exemplifies a successful feedback mechanism between those who can show a flaw in the system and those who need to address it.

          National defense, being perhaps the oldest if not most fundamental public good, draws consensus quite easily through multilayers of social group organization. Our entirely volunteer force is a ready indication of a shared ideology to serve one behalf of our nation’s security. But most recently the off shoot community support for servicemen/women at time of deployment, for their families left behind, for their job search efforts upon their return all exemplify micro markets that return to them some of the value of their public work. Quite a change from the 70’s!

          The flaw in the national defense system comes, not surprisingly, when government officials try to impose their perceptions of social market needs on- say- the requisition function. Developing formalize criteria of how to order from who in the name of public defense, trying, simply because they can, to wrap in a variety of other social objectives, warps the natural market. And in creeps costly corruption.

          • Pait

            Good points. Let me just say that I didn’t disagree that it is possible, perhaps relatively easy, to achieve a consensus on national defense. My point was that in smaller states or countries (Idaho, Denmark…) where is is also relatively easy to achieve a consensus on domestic issues, defense is not a strong deterrent without a larger nation – where consensus on domestic issues is hard to achieve.

            So, Idaho and Denmark do have to compromise their values in order to belong to larger, safer entities. Discord ensues, and the role of politics is to find a compromise.

    • MartyH

      So let’s look at the ten largest states, see how they rate, and put them on the red/blue governance spectrum:

      Florida-57%-Red (governed as red-fully funded pensions, no deficits)
      New York-46%-Blue
      Pennsylvania-46% Blue/Purple?
      Ohio-59%-Red/Purple (maybe-government in R hands)
      Georgia-59%-Red (I was going to guess red purple, but they have the fourth lowest per capita government debt)
      North Carolina-55%-Red

      From this list, large red governed states are happier than large blue governed states. California is the only blue state with 50% or better satisfaction.

  • JR

    Socialists always run out of other people’s money. In places like IL and NY/NJ this is leading to real hardship for citizens which are leaving as soon as they are able. Note that lowest level of trust exists in state with really high taxes. Not a coincidence.

    • John Morris

      Which is why Red States need to be crafting “Anti-Blue Laws” intended to poison the well, preventing the refugees from deciding to come to their States and bring the sickness with them. Because they never admit that THEY were the problem, THEY made the mess; so they move to a nice stable Red State and start screwing it up as soon as they are eligible to vote in their new home. No more Colorados! should be the battle cry.

      Pass laws you might not even like, but that would be a deal breaker for any Prog looking to resettle.

  • Terenc Blakely

    Leftists talk a good game but where they’ve held sway for extended periods of time always end up as hellholes of racism, inequality, rampant crime rates and cesspools of corruption. Places like Austin, Tx are interesting because while the city government has been leftist for decades it can’t fully devolve like Detroit because it’s in a very red state. They forces of racism, inequality, rampant crime and corruption are present in Austin because of an active leftist majority they just can’t fully bloom because of the conservatism of the state government and a significant conservative minority in Austin. If you want to see a city government in hock to it’s eyeballs and beyond, Austin is your city.

  • Ritchie The Riveter

    How long before they stand up to Big Blue and try something new?

    Not until the pain inflicted by Blue Model failure increases – a LOT.

    And not until even conservatives are willing to slaughter the sacred Blue cows grazing in their fields … from their pet tax deduction, to the government grant that funds their job, to the status quo of Social Security and Medicare.

    All of the above, is because the Blue Social Model is all the vast majority of this nation knows, as a form of governance … it is part of the conventional wisdom of this nation; accepted as The Way Things are and beyond challenge except at a few isolated points along its periphery.

    Until the blind faith in credentials/position/popularity/presentation as a reliable indicator of the human omniscience – the underlying assumption of the Blue Social Model and its reliance upon “experts” and “leaders” to make our decisions FOR US – is forsaken …

    … and replaced with reliance upon the responsible exercise of individual initiative, neighborly interdependence outside of the coercive force of law, and governance that focuses only upon securing the unalienable rights needed for such exercises …

    … we will continue to make ourselves vulnerable to the errors, greed, mendacity, and delusion of the “experts” and “leaders” we place in power over us.

  • VictorErimita

    Residents of deep blue states distrust their governments…and consistently vote for ever more of the same.

  • PaulS47

    The Left never learns that big and then bigger government dependency politics can’t produce prosperity; it’s a take philosophy, not a make strategy. The reality of mathematics sets in eventually; increasing hostility to the private sector’s job creation ability, especially at the level of small businesses, speeds up the process.

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