Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in Between?" Not Exactly

After five weeks of discussing the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, James Carville's adage about Pennsylvania has become well-known and oft-repeated. But to what extent is it truly the case that Pennsylvania consists of three distinct areas: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the rest of the state (and that the rest of the state looks like Alabama)? To get a sense of this, I divided the state into three parts: the Philadelphia media market (in blue), the Pittsburgh media market (green), and the rest of the state (red).

The chart below shows how citizens in these three parts of the state rate on the various cultural measures that I used to compare PA to other states in earlier posts (using data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study). Note that the percentage of Democrats is virtually the same across the state. However, the different parts of the state vary significantly on other measures. In fact, the Philadelphia market appears to be quite distinct in many ways while Pittsburgh can be more closely compared to the rest of PA. Philadelphia citizens are much less likely to be regular Wal-Mart shoppers and much less likely to own a gun or pickup truck compared to those in the rest of the state. They are also significantly more likely to have a favorable opinion of Jon Stewart. On the other hand, Pittsburgh citizens aren't that distinct from those in Carville's "in between" areas.

I also decided to test whether the "in between" parts of Pennsylvania were really similar to Alabama. This comparison is presented in the chart below. As you can see, middle Pennsylvania appears to be quite different from Alabama. Politically, middle PA is much more Democratic than Alabama. Alabama also has a much higher percentage of regular Wal-Mart shoppers and pickup truck owners. People in middle Pennsylvania are also more likely to own stocks, less likely to own a gun, and rate Jon Stewart much more favorably than Alabamans.

Thus, there appears to be little support for Carville's claim that Pennsylvania is "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between." In fact, middle-PA and Pittsburgh are not all that different from each other and middle-PA is quite different from Alabama in a number of ways.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a Western Pennsylvanian, I will say that the HUGE Pittsburgh media market may skew the results here. I don't know the source of these polls, so it's hard for me to say a lot. However, Butler and Venango are both listed, when neither can reasonably be considered "Pittsburgh." The same is probably true of Southwestern PA.

As someone who was born in Venango, raised in Butler, now lives in Mercer, and works in Lawrence, trust me.. this is NOT an urban area.