Democrats paint themselves as the party looking out for the little guy and more interested than Republicans in representing the poor and their best interests.
But according to Ken Fisher, the founder and executive chairman of Fisher Investments, best-selling author and one of the richest men in the United States, a USA Today study released earlier this month that shows the economic profile of all 50 states, ranked by household income, reveals much more.
When Fisher read what he called “a breathtaking economic profile” of the states he found in it something that was “embedded” in it that reveals what he believes is “arguably the greatest unseen political truth of our time.”
USA Today headlined its story reporting on its findings: “Wealth in America: Where are the richest and poorest states based on household income?”
But Fisher headlined his commentary about the study published in USA Today on Sunday: “Midterms: Poorest states have Republican legislatures, and richest have Democratic ones.”
“Fathom it, and you will see how politics may unexpectedly affect economics and wealth for years to come,” Fisher wrote.
Though income drives the rankings from poorest (West Virginia) to richest (Maryland), the list also includes population, unemployment and poverty rates. To unlock the political secret in these data points, cross-reference them with figures available from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) showing which party controls state legislatures.
What you see is exactly the reverse of our cultural mythology: Heading into midterms, Republicans are very much the party of the poor and Democrats are the party of the rich. This seemingly sounds nuts. It isn’t. Thirty-two states have Republican-controlled legislatures.
Eighteen of the 19 poorest states have legislatures where both chambers are Republican controlled. New Mexico (46th richest, fifth poorest) is Democratic. But there isn’t another blue or purple state until you get to purple Maine (31st richest, 20th poorest) with its “split” legislature of one party in each chamber. All the states in between (such as Tennessee and Florida) are Republican, both chambers. So is Michigan, where Republicans hold all high state offices (where Donald Trump won in 2016). Above New Mexico, you jump all the way to middle of the pack Vermont (27th richest, 24th poorest) to find a state with both legislative chambers held by Democrats.
All of the five richest states — Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Connecticut — have legislatures controlled by Democrats, Fisher discovered.
And overall, Democrats dominate in the 20 richest states.
“Conventional wisdom has long proclaimed Republicans the party of the rich and Democrats the party of the poor!” Fisher wrote. “Forty years ago that was largely true.”
“The poor almost everywhere elected Democrats,” Fisher wrote. “That is how most media portray it now.”
Even if Democrats are the party of the urban poor, Fisher wrote, at the “grassroots level” Republicans own the “low-to-no income vote.”
“Media simply don’t report what they don’t live in and see,” Fisher wrote.
Fisher argues that understanding these facts is not an academic exercise. Instead, it’s all about money. And the midterms will be a retest on how the poor will vote.
“If America’s poor states remain Republican at the bottom, so will our Electoral College and the Republicans’ growing ability to win the presidency and control the Senate with a minority of the national popular vote,” Fisher predicts.
If a blue wave develops it could put the country on the road to Democratic economic and social policies in the legislative branch and at the White House.
“The balance of power in electing presidents and controlling the Senate lies in the hands of our poor, largely our non-urban poor,” Fisher wrote.
In other words, the outcome of the midterm elections will determine which one of “two very different economic and money policy futures for America” will prevail.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter