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Poverty Level Persons by State

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A man walks down the street collecting cans on October 20, 2011 in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Spencer Platt Getty/Images News/Getty Images
This article lists persons living below the poverty level, by state, per the U.S. Census Bureau as of 2010.

This data should be quite relevant to national and state elections because those living on poverty-level wages should reasonably be expected to vote Democratic rather than Republican. The Democratic party is generally viewed as standing for those without political power or voice... low-income persons and families, labor unions, ethnic and racial minorities, immigrants, and others. In the 20th century and beyond, the Republican party is viewed as standing for the wealthiest Americans and for corporations.

The Mystery about Poverty-Level Voters
The mystery of U.S. poverty statistics is that of the top sixteen states (listed below) with very high or high level of persons living below poverty, twelve vote solidly Republican. And of those twelve Republican-red states, nine boast very high African-American populations.

This fact explains Democratic efforts to energize and mobilize African-Americans voters in these states, which include North and South Carolina, Michigan, Texas and six deep-south states.

Such Democratic efforts bore political fruit in the 2008 presidential race when North Carolina, plus New Mexico, voted for Barack Obama over John McCain. New Mexico, which has a very high poverty rate, boasts a population that is more than 46% Hispanic... the nation's highest. President Obama likely must win these two battleground states again, as well as Michigan, to be reelected in 2012.

Very High Level of Persons Below Poverty Level

  • 1. Mississippi - 21.2%
  • 2. Arkansas - 17.3%
  • 2. Louisiana - 17.3%
  • 2. Kentucky - 17.3%
  • 5. New Mexico - 17.1%
  • 6. West Virginia - 17.0%
High Level of Persons Below Poverty Level
  • 7. Oklahoma - 15.9%
  • 8. Texas - 15.8%
  • 9. South Carolina - 15.7%
  • 9. Alabama - 15.7%
  • 11. Tennessee - 15.5%
  • 12. Montana - 14.8%
  • 13. Arizona - 14.7%
  • 13. Georgia - 14.7%
  • 15. North Carolina - 14.6%
  • 16. Michigan - 14.4%
Median Level of Persons Below Poverty Level
  • 17. Oregon - 13.6%
  • 18. New York - 13.6%
  • 19. Ohio - 13.4%
  • 19. Missouri - 13.4%
  • 21. California - 13.3%
  • 22. Florida - 13.2%
  • 23. Indiana - 13.1%
  • 24. Idaho - 12.6%
  • 25. South Dakota - 12.5%
  • 26. Maine - 12.3%
  • 27. Illinois - 12.2%
  • 28. Pennsylvania - 12.1%
  • 29. North Dakota - 12.0%
  • 30. Rhode Island - 11.7%
  • 31. Iowa - 11.5%
  • 32. Colorado - 11.4%
  • 33. Nevada - 11.3%
  • 33. Kansas - 11.3%
  • 33. Washington - 11.3%
  • 36. Nebraska - 10.8%
  • 37. Vermont - 10.6%
  • 38. Wisconsin - 10.4%
  • 39. Virginia - 10.2%
  • 40. Massachusetts - 10.0%
  • 40. Delaware - 10.0%
Low Level of Persons Below Poverty Level
  • 42. Minnesota - 9.6%
  • 42. Utah - 9.6%
  • 44. Wyoming - 9.4$
  • 45. Connecticut - 9.3%
  • 46. Hawaii - 9.1%
  • 47. New Jersey - 8.7%
  • 48. Alaska - 8.4%
  • 49. Maryland - 8.1%
  • 50. New Hampshire - 7.6%
Other demographic and economic factors that could powerfully influence the 2012 elections, particularly the presidential contest, include:

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