Are Welfare Recipients Mostly Republican?


Paul Krugman is in puzzlement, having observed that Red States get more welfare funding, while Republican voters oppose the welfare state. He portrays Republicans as “Moochers” who are either hypocritical or too stupid to know their own best interest.

But as we know, states do not vote, individuals do. There is only a paradox if Republican voters receive welfare at above average rates while voting against it. From the Gellman-paradox we know that the low-income voters who drag down the Red States average tend to vote disproportionally for Democrats. Republican voters earn significantly more than Democrats, even though Red state earn less than Blue states.

Krugman reports no individual level data, so let me. The Maxwell Poll has detailed information about welfare use. The data is from 2004-2007. During this period in these polls a plurality of voters supported Democrats. I will graph the two-party vote, more data is at the end.

Hardly surprising, we see that in a two-party split, 60-80% of welfare recipients are Democrats, while full time Workers are evenly divided between parties.

You have similar results in this recent NPR-Poll. Among the Long Term Unemployed, 72% of the two-party support goes to Democrats.

It appears that once more common sense is right and the impression left by the New York Times wrong. Indeed, people who live off the government disproportionally support Democrats.

Given that Krugman is aware of the Gellman-Paradox, he should have reported the individual level data first instead of wasting everyone’s time with state-level aggregation that we already know is wrong. Instead he acknowledged that state level data is probably wrong (to get cover), then goes ahead and relies on the wrong method anyway, since it produces the results he wants. The false impression that Republicans use more welfare is already spread around the internet by liberals who still trust Krugman.


Share of Recipients of each program that self-identified as supporters of Republican party in 2004-2007 Maxwell Poll:

Gov. Subsidized Housing 12%
Medicaid: 16%
Food Stamps: 20%
Unemployment Compensation: 21%
Welfare or public assistance: 22%
Disability benefits from government 25%

About Tino Sanandaji 39 Articles

Tino Sanandaji is a 29 year old PhD student in Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and the Chief Economist of the free-market think tank Captus.

Visit: Super Economy

5 Comments on Are Welfare Recipients Mostly Republican?

  1. Tino Sanandaji:
    Good summary.
    Please note the Krugman data from NYTs included federal welfare payments co-mingled with federal contributary retirement program payments (Social Security and Medicare), which are required for career employed people, not “Moochers”.

    Retirees have no choice but to participate, and these programs are treated as “contributer paid”, not welfare, even though the payments are inadequate.

  2. “Hardly surprising, we see that in a two-party split, 60-80% of welfare recipients are Democrats, while full time Workers are evenly divided between parties.”

    So are the Dems “moochers,” or is their labor being exploited? Maybe a combination of the two?

  3. This graphic is extremely misleading. The sample it refers to has many more Democrats in it. The percentage of Republicans that are on welfare in the sample is higher than that of Democrats. Download the associated excel file and see for yourself.

  4. Higher percentage is not equivalent to numbers. For example, 50% of 10 people is 5, while 25% of 20 people is also 5. Please do not mislead the reader with statistics without sample sizes not explicitly depicted.

  5. What an incredibly stupid article. After looking at the actual “polling” data this is a joke on so many levels I don’t even know where to start.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.