## College Degree Rate and Political PartiesL. David Roper (E-mail: roperld@vt.edu)

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(Go to data table at bottom.)

The college-degree rate (number/1000) varies greatly among the states in the United States. (See table at end for 1996 rates.)

An interesting question to ask is: Is there any correlation between the college-degree rate and the strength of the two political parties in the states?

I compared different state's college-degree rate (CDR) data for 1996 with the results of the 1996 presidential election for each state. (See table at end for votes in the 1996 election.) A correlation calculation yielded the following:

 Correlation Rate Democrat vote +0.223 Republican vote -0.265

That is, the Democratic votes for the states had a 22% positive correlation with increasing CDR and the Republican votes had a 27% negative correlation. States with high college-degree rate vote more Democratic than Republican and vice versa.

 This is a plot of the college-degree rate (CDR) sorted by rank of the states compared to the Democratic votes and the Republican votes. (See table at end for the data.) Also shown are linear fits to the two votes. This shows visually the positive correlation of CDR with the Democratic vote and the negative correlation with the Republican vote. Note the huge difference between the highest state (Wyoming with 33.5) and the lowest state (Alabama with 14.6).

What can one conclude from these results? Whatever factors cause some states to have high college-degree rates, they and/or other factors cause those states to tend to vote Democratic.

My Republican native state, Oklahoma (rate=20.5), ranked 15 of 50 and my Republican adopted state, Virginia (rate=28.0), ranked 44 of 50 for increasing college-degree rate in 1996.

Data taken from http://www.census.gov/prod/3/98pubs/98statab/sasec4.pdf
 U.S. College Degree Rate 1996 election State % College Deg. Democrat Republican Rank Arkansas 14.6 53.7% 36.8% 1 West Virginia 14.7 51.5% 36.8% 2 Indiana 16.2 41.6% 47.1% 3 Tennessee 17.1 48.0% 45.6% 4 Kentucky 17.6 45.8% 44.9% 5 Louisiana 18.1 52.0% 39.9% 6 South Carolina 19.2 44.0% 49.8% 7 Alabama 19.3 43.2% 50.1% 8 Idaho 19.4 33.6% 52.2% 9 Arizona 19.5 46.5% 44.3% 10 Nevada 19.9 43.9% 42.9% 11 Maine 20 51.6% 30.8% 12 South Dakota 20.1 43.0% 46.5% 13 North Dakota 20.5 40.1% 46.9% 14 Oklahoma 20.5 40.4% 48.3% 15 Mississippi 20.9 44.1% 49.2% 16 Michigan 21 51.7% 38.5% 17 Nebraska 21.3 35.0% 53.7% 18 Ohio 21.5 47.4% 41.0% 19 Florida 21.7 48.0% 42.3% 20 Iowa 21.7 50.3% 39.9% 21 Wyoming 22.2 36.8% 49.8% 22 Georgia 22.3 45.8% 47.0% 23 Texas 22.4 43.8% 48.8% 24 Wisconsin 22.4 48.8% 38.5% 25 Hawaii 22.5 56.9% 31.6% 26 North Carolina 22.6 44.0% 48.7% 27 Missouri 22.9 47.5% 41.2% 28 Pennsylvania 22.9 49.2% 40.0% 29 New Mexico 23.6 49.2% 41.9% 30 Vermont 23.7 53.4% 31.1% 31 Oregon 24.3 47.2% 39.1% 32 Illinois 25 54.3% 36.8% 33 Montana 25.2 41.3% 44.1% 34 Rhode Island 25.7 59.7% 26.8% 35 New York 25.8 58.3% 30.0% 36 Washington 26.1 49.8% 37.3% 37 Utah 26.7 33.3% 54.4% 38 Delaware 26.8 51.8% 36.6% 39 New Hampshire 27 49.6% 39.6% 40 Alaska 27.5 33.3% 50.8% 41 California 27.5 51.1% 38.2% 42 Kansas 27.5 36.1% 54.3% 43 Virginia 28 45.1% 47.1% 44 Minnesota 28.3 51.1% 35.0% 45 New Jersey 28.5 53.7% 35.9% 46 Colorado 28.9 44.4% 45.8% 47 Connecticut 30 52.8% 34.7% 48 Maryland 32.2 54.3% 38.3% 49 Massachusetts 33.5 61.5% 28.1% 50