Pre-Elections, Mapping Foreclosures, and Poverty

By Patrick Ottenhoff

It's tough to throw a pin on a map these days without hitting an area in some kind of economic distress. So today, when the Washington Post and Mint.com released maps of home foreclosures and poverty levels, respectively, it looked like just about the whole nation was facing hard times. 

Map of the Day
The first map from the Post about home foreclosures highlights the tricky politics that Democrats face. A moratorium on foreclosures could freeze up the whole market, but it might be a political winner with liberals and working class voters thirsty for some populism. The Post notes that the last thing Harry Reid wants are TV images of Clark County voters being tossed from their homes. 

The second map from Mint.com shows poverty in America, which is unfortunately on the rise. Many of the worst areas have long legacies of poverty -- Appalachia, the South's Black Belt, south Texas, Indian reservations -- but I was surprised to see counties in Florida, Arizona, and other Sun Belt locales with such high levels of poor residents. 

The only states that seem to not have at least some high pockets of home foreclosures or poverty are Nebraska, Kansas (wheat boom), Wyoming (oil and gas boom), and Minnesota (health care boom and strong Lutheran work ethic). I would include Virginia (government spending boom), Iowa, Wisconsin, and most of New England if it weren't for higher than average foreclosure rates. 

It's no surprise that The Atlantic named Wyoming the best economically performing state in a study that measured debt per capita, unemployment, home price change, and median household income. Second place went to North Dakota, followed by Iowa, Vermont, and Minnesota. Bringing up the rear? Arizona, California, and Kentucky. 

Taken as a whole, the maps shows an economically sick county, which more than anything else sums up the 2010 elections.

  Washington Post Home Foreclosure RatesMint's Poverty in America

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/10/pre-elections-mapping-foreclosures-and-poverty/64817/