Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This Just In: Republicans Are Fat

Republicans are fat. It’s hard to escape that conclusion about the U.S. electorate even though I have only state-by-state data to look at.

Using adult obesity rates released today by Trust for America’s Health and margin of victory in the 2008 presidential election from, you can’t miss the tendency for the obese states to vote for McCain.

With this data, there is a visible cutoff at an adult obesity rate of 26.7%. Obama won only five states with higher obesity rates than this. McCain won only five with lower obesity rates. The average adult obesity rate for Obama states is 24.7%. The average adult obesity rate for McCain states is three points higher, 27.7%.

And there is a clear difference between the states that each candidate won by a wide margin, of ten points or more, and the states that were closer. The so-called swing states tend to have middling obesity rates.

StatesCountAdult Obesity %
Obama 20082924.7
McCain 20082227.7
Obama by ≥ 10%2224.5
Obama by < 10%725.3
McCain by < 10%726.7
McCain by ≥ 10%1528.1

This year’s data shows higher obesity rates than a year ago, and obesity is rising faster in Republican states, resulting in a more clear-cut connection between obesity and political leanings than I had found in last year’s data.

The differences in state obesity rates are so large that they can only explained by finding that Republican-leaning voters outweigh Democratic-leaning voters, and not just by a pound or two. To find out more, we would need more than just geographical data. We would need data on individual voters that connected height, weight, political leaning, and likelihood of voting. But the latest geographical data is enough to tell us that Republicans tend to be fat.