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%

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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

27 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.

    • While fiction can certainly be fun, most intelligent people find reality to be even more compelling. 63% of welfare recipients are black or Hispanic, and those groups vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

    • Against a national average of 32.62 percent [of a State’s budget] being federally subsidized, the blue states received 30.80 percent. Purple states were almost exactly at the national level with 32.92 percent coming from Washington. Red state budgets averaged 35.75 percent federal money.

      A problem with this metric is that although federal funds make up a larger percentage of red states’ state budgets, the budgets in those states are generally lower overall than those of the free-spending blue states. If, instead of comparing federal funds to state budgets, we look at how much the federal government spends in intergovernmental grants per resident of a state, the results are turned on their heads.

      Against a national average of $1,935 in intergovernmental spending per American, red states receive just $1,879. Blue states get considerably more, at $2,124 per resident. Purple states see the least of their money returned to them per capita, at just $1,770.

  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.

  6. This article accuses the NYT of using faulty data but then does the exact same thing. The author should have crossed referenced voter registration data with government records of welfare, medicare, and medicaid recipients instead of basing his entire premise on a random phone poll with no verifiable accuracy. Very hypocritical and misleading click bait article.

  7. I can see the liberals don’t like FACTS. Democrats suck the life out of Republican states (and democrat states) alike. With all the regulations, minimum wage mandates, and all your whining and crying. . . Just cut it out. Your feelings don’t matter. Learn to live like the rest of us. Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps, start saving your money instead of blowing it on transgender surgeries, and wasting it on Nancy Pelosi (who doesn’t have your best interest in mind). Save money for your kids’ college so you don’t have to take out high interest loans, pay off your car so you don’t have a car payment, etc. life doesn’t have to be hard….but you MAKE hard. LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. Nobody is trying to keep up with the Joneses anymore.

    • 16.7 % of rural people live in poverty while 13. percent of city dwellers live in poverty check you facts. Also the percentage of employed rural people is declining.

  8. The 10 states with the highest unmet obligations to their citizens are ALL Democrat Governors with Democrat Legislatures, except for Kentucky, which is split. The 10 states with the highest surplus per taxpayer are ALL Republican Governors with Republican Legislatures. I will quote Milton Friedman for the hard-headed liberals out there; ” There is no such thing as a free lunch.” When you spend money, it is either your money, or someone elses. Democrats LOVE to spend other people’s money (debt) while Republicans like to keep a budget (spend their own money). One of the reasons you hear people bitch about “student loan forgiveness” is…some people save, do without, then scrimp to put their kids through college. Then they see their neighbor, new car every 2 years, vacations, eat out, new fashionable clothes….and then borrow to send kids to college. And they just say “heck with THAT noise!” Pay your bills!!!

  9. well why the $&&) aren’t the other remaining 20-40% welfare recipients voting democrat? those people who are taking gov assistance with one hand then turning around and voting for the republicans- well, why you little ungrateful self-defeating hypocritical ingrates…..

    • Because some people on government assistance do really need it and only do it for a short time. Duh. It also said 25% are on disability. I’m on disability and fully support Republicans. Under Trump I saw more money and having to spend less on insurance every month. Under OBama I got the 4% cost of living, but then they raised my insurance costs, so I made an extra $10 or so

  10. How about we just use common sense. Democrats give more of the working man’s money to people who don’t work. Duh, let me see who I’m going to vote for: well Democrat of coarse. If I’m a dog I run to the person who is going to give me the most food. COMMON SENSE, or should I call it uncommon sense.

    • I don’t much see any references to the population of republican states vs. democratic states. How many Republican states are more rural? With less people to make. these statistics on, what makes the numbers? Of course more rural states are republican and in lower numbers. How do you justify percentages? 50% of the people in say, Kansas would be quite different from 50% of the people say from Texas or Florida.

  11. I’m glad I got to Bobby Daughtery’s comment because I felt I was in twilight zone reading some of the other comments. There might be an equal number (or near equal number) of whites and blacks on welfare, but there are around 5 times as many whites in the US, so the percentage of blacks on welfare is much higher than the percentage of whites on welfare. Everyone knows (because CNN tells us constantly) that something like 90% of Blacks vote democrat. This statistic alone would leave the Democrats with a higher percentage of welfare recipients. This is exactly why the Democrats cater to welfare recipients and those without healthcare. The Democrats don’t try and hide this. However, because of the liberal super rich I wouldn’t be surprised if taxes paid by Democrats and Republicans are similar (or even skewed toward the democrats). Regardless of which party pays the most taxes it is almost a foregone conclusion that there are more Republicans paying taxes. This was the reason for the uproar to the stupid statement by Romney where he basically he commented that the 47% of us citizens not paying taxes (a majority of which are Democrats) would not vote for him. Yes, I understand that alot of people not paying taxes have good reasons (retirement, disability, loss of job, etc), but the majority of individuals not paying taxes are democrats. Georgia probably turned Blue because of all the very young new voters they enlisted that pay very little taxes (if any) for the most part. There are some welfare recipients who don’t vote with their pocketbook and vote Republican (maybe they hate abortion or feel the welfare system has nefariously addicted them to just enough money to survive on).

    • So, true, I have heard gripes from people on SSI that the stimulus did not come first to them because they needed it the most. My question was why? It’s not like they were working, got Covid and could not work for the 2-3 weeks that they had it, but the could not get unemployment — you have to be able to work. My good friend had that happen to him and he is back to work, still coughing and still fighting exhaustion. Yet, a person, who sleeps all day, watches TV thinks they should come first and yes, they are democrats and is “entitlement” bound, while my friend is a workaholic, he has to be and is happy with his job. I just think it sucks that people who don’t work, circumstances did not change end up ahead of the workers who actually got sick from the virus.


    • I would agree that northerners are pretty smart. They have the sense to get out of the states that their liberal policies have ruined. New York and California are the prime examples. High taxes, high crime, high cost of living, union control, and the list goes on. I can’t figure out why anyone would ever want to leave!

  13. Excuse me, I guess I have no right to get in this debate, as I am a Libertarian and most Libertarians I know are well educated, even if it is self-educated. To make an overall statement like that is really not well thought out. Where I lived, the Republicans regularly had meetings and studied the constitution and I am not talking about a few people showing up, it was sometimes 100. Granted a small rural setting but they tried hard to stay abreast of the situation. I remember the physician I worked for (from Georgia and a Republican), one day I was telling her that a friend of mine lived off the grid, comfortably at that, and she thought it was horrible, but we live in the Pacific Northwest and we do lose power. I told her that when the power goes out for us, it doesn’t for them. I also know a dentist in Reno who totally lives off the grid as well. I don’t think that these Republicans/Libertarians are uneducated morons. Personally, I try to study 10-15 hours a week on economics and other issues. Yes, there are some idiots, but they are on both sides. However, anybody who thinks that the government owes them a livelihood, well they are pretty lazy in my book, as I could have gone on SSI myself probably 20 years ago because of physical ailments that affected my work, but I did not because even though I am slower (I get paid for what I do and not by the hour – medical transcription) I still take pride in what I do and have taught at a local college. And those coal miners in West Virginia, they work damn hard.

    • A well educated libertarian is one of the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever heard… the entire ideology is a literal global joke. Lol

  14. Put Welfare Cessation up for a national vote and see who riots in the streets…that is the only metric you need. Red states get more welfare? Cuz they have millions of democrat voting parasites. Too bad they don’t track welfare benefits by voting record, then you would see, and why they don’t track it…they dont want you to see just how dominant democrats are at living off of others paychecks.

  15. meanwhile the 1% are screwing us all while we fight to the death over table scraps. this red team blue team mentality and im right youre not crap is why they fleece us all and we’re too stupid to see it and just fight among ourselves

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