The Story of Rhode Island in the Trump-Clinton Divide


The other day, the Providence Journal published an interesting map showing that, much like the country as a whole, Rhode Island’s presidential votes were split by region, with the coastal municipalities’ going to Hillary Clinton and the interior going to Donald Trump.  The image oversimplifies, of course; several cities and towns in the northeast of the state don’t touch the coast, and Charlestown and Tiverton went to Clinton without her winning even half of the vote.

Reporter Paul Edward Parker touch on some of the nuance in the numbers:

Four of the five communities with the highest median household incomes voted for Clinton, as did seven of the eight communities with the lowest incomes.

Essentially, Clinton drew her support from the wealthiest and poorest places, while Trump drew his from the middle.

Laying this out in more detail arguably tells the story of Rhode Island’s current condition in a single chart:


In that red U, we see both the story of the “productive class” and the workings of the “company state.”

Refer back to this 2009 post on Anchor Rising, and you’ll see that the bottom of the U is almost exactly in line with the population that has been leaving Rhode Island throughout this millennium.  As those Rhode Islanders flee the state, those who remain are increasingly part of the “company state” or “government plantations” model, wherein highly paid service providers in and around government have incentive to increase the number of clients requiring subsidized services as a pretense for taking money away from those above the line for subsidies.

This model harms the economy and drives people away because it reduces the incentive and opportunity to work.  The “productive class” is characterized by the economic role of the people who tend to be within it.  It’s the broad class of people whose main function in the economy is to turn their effort and ingenuity into money that they can use to support and advance their families.

This trend is terrible for a state for a multitude of reasons, but two stand out as particularly profound and overarching.  The first is that the “productive class” is the group whose activities are the foundation of a thriving and advancing society.  They are the dynamism and hope for the future.

The second is that the erosion of this tier of the economy as a source of balance eliminates political competition. A loss of political competition will inevitably lead to a political monolith that is not only incapable of correcting itself, but also susceptible to simple, wasteful, and demoralizing corruption.

Those who sympathize with the high points of the U really need to reevaluate the long-term good of their policies.  The rest of us need to redouble our efforts to turn the tide.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I have wondered why Trump support fell off at the higher income levels. I suppose that whether the system is good, or bad, high income earners think they have found their place in it. Therefore, they are resistant to change. I have noticed a divide among my high income friends. Those in businesses that deal directly with governments tended to favor Trump.

    • Raymond Carter

      It also should be said that the rich or almost rich live in places where they are insulated from the “diversity” (read gangs and violent sociopaths) that Democrat policies bring. Hence the results in Barrington and E. Greenwhich voting Democrat for the first time I remember.
      Plus lets not forget that the bulk of those in this state that have high family incomes are part of the government/government funded non-profit “work” force. More plainly: part of the Kleptocracy.

      • Raymond Carter

        By the way that Haliejulah parody should be spread far and wide!

  • Joe Smith

    Interesting map..maybe how the GOP would more divide the congressional districts if it held power..guess that won’t be an issue when 2022 comes along..

    “Essentially, Clinton drew her support from the wealthiest and poorest places, while Trump drew his from the middle.” That statement is correct, but the logic jump to say that correlates with the income of the *actual* voters is a pretty big one. Median still means 50% of the households fall below and with the voting rate at could mean only the rich in the wealth towns stayed home and the poor in the “poorer” towns stayed home.

    probably not that extreme..but look at the sub races or questions..the vote on affordable housing was much closer in the “wealthy” towns..and many of those usually “red” wealthier towns put in split or Democrat town councils..could have been just as plausible, given the lack of meaningful state races, that normally R leaning places were fed up with the status quo and voted D…just like nationally the counties in OH, PA, MI that normally voted D went R this time..

    I’d be careful reading too much from municipal aggregate voting without looking at other proxies such as the ballot questions or contested local races..especially given the mentality by almost everyone except Trillo and Depietro that HRC was going to win RI.

    What is disturbing..that the bond questions don’t include a true financial impact! As much as we might complain about a 38 studios done by legislative fiat, groups pretty much know if they put a nice sounding title on the ballot, they’ll get funded by the voters. URI gets $45M when it hasn’t even spent the first round nor produce any evidence to support its claims..where’s the outrage over a title of “Leveraging Higher Education to Create Jobs” when there was no evidence. At least in the General Assembly there would have been recorded debate.. or “Green Economy” – bet 95% of voters couldn’t tell you what they actually voted for..

    If the state needs a couple million, why not do something about the top people/groups on this list..

    • Raymond Carter

      RI won’t EVER have to worry about Congressional redistricting again. We will be down to one big beautiful at-large district after the 2020 census.
      Couldn’t happen to a better state!