What’s Up with the Georgia 14th?

Congressional district, that is. It’s the place which keeps sending Marjorie Taylor Greene to represent them in the House of Representatives. This is a question that hit me the other day after reading about MTG’s latest idiotic diatribes (this time involving Dr. Fauci).

In the interest of full disclosure, my initial question was “what kind of bozos would elect someone like MTG?” That’s not a reasonable or fair question since, while I strongly disagree with every policy position she’s taken a stand on, that’s politics.

But I think there’s a valid question lurking in there regardless. Re-framed, it reads more like “what’s different about the people who live in the Georgia 14th compared to [fill in the blank]?”.

Put that way, it occurred to me it’d be interesting to compare the demographics of GA14 to our own district, the California 15th, where we are represented by Kevin Mullin. I know Kevin from being on the city council circuit years ago, and, while I don’t agree with all of his policy positions either1, he’s far and away a more thoughtful, compassionate, discerning Congressperson. And just as passionate about doing his job. It’s just that, among other things, he’s not an insane bomb thrower.

It turns out Congress and the Census Bureau make all sorts of interesting demographic information available on a district-by-district basis, so drawing simple comparisons is easy. The entire Excel file is available here, but the following PDF contains some selected highlights I found particularly interesting:

For starters, the districts are roughly the same size (no surprise; that’s apportionment for you) and have roughly the same male/female split. The median ages are pretty similar, too, although GA14 is a couple of years younger (39.1 vs 43.1 years).

But then things get more interesting. 90% of GA14 self identifies as being “mono racial” while 85% of CA15 does. A much bigger difference shows up in ethnicity, with GA14 being 69% White while only 31% of CA15 defines itself that way. And while 91% of GA14 was born in the United States, only 59% of CA15 was.

Moving on to employment differences, more than twice as many people work from home in CA15 than GA14. Interestingly, while I always think of the traffic around here as god-awful, the average commute time is almost the same (27.7 minutes for GA14, 26.6 minutes for CA15). Over 50 percent more of the workforce is in management/business/science/arts type jobs in CA15, while more than twice as many people work in manufacturing or production/transportation/material movement jobs in GA14. On the last page you’ll see (assuming I’m interpreting the descriptor correctly) that far more people work in information (technology) jobs in CA15 (87,171 vs 1,877). Similarly, far more people work in professional/scientific/technical jobs in CA15 (45,199 vs 5,001). The total earned income of CA15 dwarfs that of GA14, too: $78 billion versus $9 billion.

Some of the biggest differences show up when you look at the highest educational level of the people in both districts:

GA14 is, overall, less well-educated than CA15. That’s probably a reflection of the different economic engines of the two districts.

What does all this mean? I’m not sure. While it’d be easy to jump to the conclusion GA14 wants a firebrand conservative nutjob as its Congressional representative because it’s less well-educated, less diverse and not as prosperous, you can’t draw that conclusion based on comparing simply two districts — you’d have to look at a lot of districts and see if similar patterns repeat. Even then you wouldn’t have determined causality, because as any good statistician will tell you, correlation is not causation.

But it’s still interesting. Maybe we should run an experiment and see what happens if, say, we subsidize more higher education and higher-knowledge-skill-based jobs in a place like GA14 to see if it shifts the politics.

Hell, I’d be willing to pay more taxes to run that experiment. Because if it worked, it’d be a cheap price to pay to have Marjorie Taylor Greene exeunt stage left. Or right, in her case :).

  1. That’s always the case. The only person who might agree with your policy positions is you…and even then sometimes that’s not true. At least, it’s not true over time, if you’re honest and open enough to keep learning about the world. 

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