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

10 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.

  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.

  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…..

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