There are Red States and Blue States, rich states and poor states, and Bible and Rust-belt states. But now we must add Globe-trotting and Stay-at-home states to that list too -- that is, according to new data on the percentage of Americans who have a passport. The map below -- which has been getting a lot of attention on-line (via Grey's Blog) -- charts the trend for the fifty states.
New Jersey boasts the highest percentage of passport holders (68%); Delaware (67%), Alaska (65%), Massachusetts (63%), New York (62%), and California (60%) are close behind.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, less than one in five residents of Mississippi are passport holders, and just one in four residents of West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and Arkansas.
It's a fun map. With the exception of Sarah Palin's home state, it reinforces the "differences" we expect to find between the states where more worldly, well-traveled people live versus those where the folks Palin likes to call "real Americans" preponderate. Mostly to entertain myself, I decided to look at how this passport metric correlates with a variety of other political, cultural, economic, and demographic measures. What surprised me is how closely it lines up with the other great cleavages in America today. The statistical correlations generated by my colleague Charlotta Mellander are genuinely striking, among the strongest I have seen for virtually any measure. While my usual caveats stand--our analysis deals with associations only, correlation and causation are not the same thing--the results are intriguing and perhaps provide another window into America's divide.