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Where Do the 47 Percent Live?

The Internet is abuzz with Mitt Romney’s remark that 47 percent of Americans pay no tax and therefore can’t be expected to appreciate his message of personal responsibility, and so on. Since Romney sees the 53 percent of Americans who are net federal taxpayers as his natural constituency, you expect him to be doing especially well in the states where they live.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Via @emsimpson, here is a map of federal income tax non-payment rates by state compiled by the Tax Foundation:

Of the states with the lowest non-payment rates, only three–Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska–are clearly in Romney’s column. These are also the states with the lowest population. On the other hand, eight of the ten states with the highest non-payment rates are solidly Republican. The exceptions are New Mexico and Florida. In short, Romney’s geographic base is in states where large numbers of households pay no net federal income tax.

Of course, it’s possible that all or most of these “lucky duckies” are voting for Obama. But it’s more likely that Romney shares the delusion that the freeloaders and looters are concentrated in the Northern, coastal cities that Democratic dominate. Actually, the states they call home are the heart of his electoral strategy.

about the author

Samuel Goldman is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at George Washington University. He earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard, where he has also taught writing. In addition to The American Conservative, Goldman’s work has appeared in The New Criterion, The Wall Street Journal, and Maximumrocknroll. Follow him on Twitter.

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