State Debt

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States with the lowest debt per capita tend to be Republican states. State debt is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau[1] as are population totals.[2] The following is a ranking of states by debt per capita, current as of 2013 (the most recent year for state debt data), their Democratic advantage according to Gallup,[3] Representatives/Senators in Congress by party,[4] party breakdown in the state legislature,[5] and how they voted in the 2012 presidential election.[6] Ultimately 16 of the 20 states with lowest debt per capita had Republican advantages according to Gallup polling, while 16 of the 20 states with highest debt per capita had Democratic advantages.

List of States by Debt

Determination of whether a state is Republican or Democrat is based solely on the Gallup data (Democrat Advantage); the state's ratios for Congress, the state legislature, and 2012 presidential election results are merely provided for informational purposes. For example, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Virginia all voted for Obama in 2012 but Gallup polling reveals they are primarily Republican, and thus they are labeled Republican here, particularly since their legislative elections reveal them to be Republican. On the other hand Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have elected more Republicans at both the state and federal levels than Democrats, but are labeled as Democrat states because Gallup polling shows they have Democrat Advantages. States which could be classified as definite swing states include Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

RANK STATE DEBT POPULATION DEBT/CAPITA PARTY DEM. ADV. CONGRESS STATE LEG. ROMNEY VOTE OBAMA VOTE
1 Tennessee $6.19 billion 6,495,978 $953.20 Republican -7% 9/11 R 100/132 R 59% 39%
2 Nebraska $1.85 billion 1,868,516 $988.26 Republican -16% 4/5 R NP 61% 38%
3 Nevada $3.61 billion 2,790,136 $1,293.75 Democrat 3% 4/6 R 38/63 R 46% 52%
4 Georgia $13.29 billion 9,992,167 $1,330.34 Republican -3% 12/16 R 155/234 R 53% 45%
5 Arkansas $3.95 billion 2,959,373 $1,333.79 Republican -4% 6/6 R 87/134 R 61% 37%
6 Texas $39.62 billion 26,448,193 $1,498.20 Republican -4% 27/38 R 118/181 R 57% 41%
7 Wyoming $1.02 billion 582,658 $1,751.51 Republican -40% 3/3 R 77/90 R 69% 28%
8 Alabama $9.06 billion 4,833,722 $1,873.34 Republican -11% 8/9 R 98/129 R 61% 38%
9 North Carolina $19.05 billion 9,848,060 $1,934.86 Republican -1% 12/15 R 109/170 R 51% 48%
10 Florida $37.89 billion 19,552,860 $1,937.93 Democrat 5% 18/29 R 103/155 R 49% 50%
11 Arizona $13.72 billion 6,626,624 $2,070.91 Republican -1% 7/11 R 53/90 R 54% 44%
12 Iowa $6.65 billion 3,090,416 $2,151.07 Republican -2% 5/6 R 80/149 R 46% 52%
13 Idaho $3.65 billion 1,612,136 $2,262.74 Republican -24% 4/4 R 84/105 R 65% 33%
14 Kansas $6.83 billion 2,893,957 $2,358.46 Republican -21% 6/6 R 130/165 R 60% 38%
15 Mississippi $7.11 billion 2,991,207 $2,377.82 Republican -6% 5/6 R 98/174 R 56% 44%
16 Utah $7.05 billion 2,900,872 $2,430.15 Republican -32% 6/6 R 85/104 R 73% 25%
17 Oklahoma $9.51 billion 3,850,568 $2,470.88 Republican -13% 7/7 R 112/149 R 67% 33%
18 Minnesota $13.57 billion 5,420,380 $2,504.03 Democrat 6% 7/10 D 101/201 D 45% 53%
19 North Dakota $1.83 billion 723,393 $2,535.72 Republican -25% 2/3 R 104/143 R 59% 39%
20 Ohio $33.13 billion 11,570,808 $2,863.49 Democrat 0% 13/18 R 83/132 R 48% 50%
21 Michigan $30.38 billion 9,895,622 $3,069.76 Democrat 9% 9/16 R 90/148 R 45% 54%
22 South Carolina $14.72 billion 4,774,839 $3,083.57 Republican -10% 8/9 R 103/167 R 55% 44%
23 Colorado $16.31 billion 5,268,367 $3,095.69 Republican -4% 5/9 R 50/100 R 47% 51%
24 Missouri $19.31 billion 6,044,171 $3,194.44 Republican -3% 7/10 R 142/196 R 54% 44%
25 Virginia $28.02 billion 8,260,405 $3,392.30 Republican -1% 8/13 R 89/140 R 48% 51%
26 Kentucky $14.98 billion 4,395,295 $3,409.03 Democrat 2% 7/8 R 72/135 61% 38%
27 Indiana $22.56 billion 6,570,902 $3,433.93 Republican -4% 8/11 R 111/150 54% 44%
28 Oregon $13.59 billion 3,930,065 $3,460.11 Democrat 7% 6/7 D 53/90 D 43% 54%
29 New Mexico $7.23 billion 2,085,287 $3,433.93 Democrat 11% 4/5 D 58/112 D 43% 53%
30 Montana $3.56 billion 1,015,165 $3,505.19 Republican -13% 1/2 R 88/150 R 55% 42%
31 Pennsylvania $47.02 billion 12,773,801 $3,681.01 Democrat 3% 14/20 R 149/253 R 47% 52%
32 West Virginia $7.36 billion 1,854,304 $3,966.79 Democrat 1% 4/5 R 82/134 62% 36%
33 California $152.19 billion 38,332,521 $3,970.15 Democrat 18% 41/55 D 78/120 D 38% 59%
34 Louisiana $18.59 billion 4,625,470 $4,018.93 Republican -2% 7/8 R 85/144 58% 41%
35 Wisconsin $23.19 billion 5,742,713 $4,037.77 Democrat 1% 6/10 R 80/130 R 46% 53%
36 Maine $5.37 billion 1,328,302 $4,046.16 Democrat 6% 2/4 D 98/186 D 41% 56%
37 South Dakota $3.43 billion 844,877 $4,054.35 Republican -17% 3/3 R 84/103 R 58% 40%
38 Washington $30.47 billion 6,971,406 $4,371.33 Democrat 7% 8/12 D 75/147 D 42% 56%
39 Maryland $26.07 billion 5,928,814 $4,396.60 Democrat 20% 9/10 D 123/188 D 37% 62%
40 Illinois $63.66 billion 12,882,135 $4,941.75 Democrat 17% 11/20 D 110/177 D 41% 57%
41 Vermont $3.33 billion 626,630 $5,314.52 Democrat 19% 3/3 D 118/180 D 31% 67%
42 Hawaii $8.32 billion 1,404,054 $5,924.56 Democrat 24% 4/4 D 67/76 D 28% 71%
43 Delaware $5.75 billion 925,749 $6,216.14 Democrat 17% 3/3 D 37/62 D 40% 59%
44 New Hampshire $8.76 billion 1,323,459 $6,621.54 Republican -4% 2/4 R 253/424 R 46% 52%
45 New York $136.01 billion 19,651,127 $6,921.46 Democrat 25% 20/28 D 137/213 36% 63%
46 New Jersey $64.26 billion 8,899,399 $7,221.22 Democrat 16% 8/14 D 72/120 41% 58%
47 Alaska $6.22 billion 735,132 $8,458.84 Republican -20% 3/3 R 37/60 55% 41%
48 Connecticut $32.36 billion 3,596,080 $8,997.80 Democrat 16% 7/7 D 108/187 D 40% 58%
49 Rhode Island $9.57 billion 1,051,511 $9,099.57 Democrat 23% 4/4 D 97/113 D 36% 63%
50 Massachusetts $76.16 billion 6,692,824 $11,379.43 Democrat 21% 11/11 D 159/200 D 38% 61%

Notes

  • Nebraska's state legislature is Nonpartisan/Unicameral and thus party breakdown cannot be provided, this is indicated by a value of "NP."
  • Since Independents overwhelmingly caucus as Democrats, they were classified as Democrats when counting Congress/State Legislature ratios. The only state really affected by this was Vermont which had 11 Independents at the state level and 1 at the federal level.
  • A "T" at the end of a rank indicates a tie between states for that rank.

Analysis

Gallup polling generally lines up with how states voted for president in 2012. While states have increasingly become more Republican since 2012, the Gallup polling largely represents the ideology which has governed state employment in recent years, and a state's identity is generally clear. There are two states which should arguably be identified as Republican despite Gallup polling indicating they are narrowly Democrat, Kentucky and West Virginia. According to Gallup they narrowly polled Democrat, with 2% and 1% Democrat advantages respectively, yet both have elected more Republicans to both the state and federal legislature, and voted for Romney in 2012.

Sources

  1. American FactFinder (2013). 2013 Annual Survey of State Finances. United States Census Bureau. <https://www.census.gov/govs/state/>
  2. United States Census Bureau (2013). Population Estimates - State Totals: Vintage 2013. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. Saad, L. (2014, January 29). Not as Many U.S. States Lean Democratic in 2013. Gallup. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/167030/not-states-lean-democratic-2013.aspx>
  4. Members of Congress: North Dakota. GovTrack.us. <https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/ND>
  5. Legislative Control 2015. StateScape. <http://www.statescape.com/resources/partysplits/partysplits.aspx>
  6. 2012 Presidential Race. NBC News. <http://elections.nbcnews.com/ns/politics/2012/all/president>