Per Capita U.S. State GDP Rankings in 2018 Sorted by States That Supported Trump in 2016

October 15, 2020

President Trump has not disguised his contempt for states that supported his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election. He has again pretty much written off such blue state stalwarts like California, New York and Illinois this year. This note presents my findings from cross-checking state per capita GDP in the most recently available year (2018) with the lists of states whose electoral votes went respectively to Trump or Clinton four years ago. The interesting conclusion of this exercise is that Trump’s America generates considerably less per capita GDP than the part of the country that disagrees with his politics.

National per capita GDP in 2018 was $50,577. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia had higher per capital GDP than the national average, and the per capita GDP of the other 29 states was less. The top GDP ranking on a per capita basis went to Massachusetts (a blue state), and the lowest ranked state was Mississippi, which preferred Trump. In 2018, the per capita GDP in the Bay State, $64,545, was more than double the $31,881 per capita GDP of Mississippi.

States with per capita GDP below the national average were heavily skewed toward those that gave Trump more votes than Clinton. In fact, only five of the 29 states with per capita GDP below the national average endorsed the Democratic candidate, while 24 of such states picked Trump. Alternatively, only a third of the 21 states with a higher per capita GDP than the national average went for the Republican candidate in 2016. The other 14 states plus the District of Columbia, which had 3 electoral college votes, chose Clinton.

This pattern has a negative implication for future U.S. growth should Trump retain the presidency for another four years. An administration that predominantly addresses the desires of people living in states with low per capita GDP is apt to favor the less productive parts of the economy. It’s reasonable to expect from a second Trump term more laws that especially penalize residents from blue states, such as the cap on deductions for state and local taxes from federal income taxation that was legislated during Trump’s first term. At the same time, Republican control of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court has in fact met the cultural demands of its base but done very little to lift the standard of living of people in red states. Likely healthcare changes in a second Trump term are likely to impact red-state GDP particularly badly.

Copyright 2020, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.

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