There’s another new poll that appears to show that Washington, D.C., is really, radically different from the rest of the country.
In a survey of all 50 states plus D.C., the nation’s capital is the only place with a positive rating on the 2013 Gallup Economic Confidence Index. That index is a composite measure of how Americans view the economy today, and what they think the prospects are for the future, based on a -100 to +100 scale. D.C. comes away with a +19 on the index, followed by Massachusetts at a -1. At the other end is West Virginia, which has a -44 (!) on the index. The national average for 2013 was -16.
That’s an obviously huge gap. So what could explain it? It’s not that D.C.’s economy is booming compared with the rest of the country. Washington still had a relatively high, 8.1 percent, unemployment rate in December, compared with West Virginia’s 5.9 percent rate or with that month’s national rate of 6.7 percent.
Other ideas? Gallup points to partisanship, which definitely makes some sense. Obama’s approval rating in Washington dwarfs the level in any other state, with 80.8 percent approving of the president in 2013. West Virginia, on the other hand, thought worse of the president than nearly any other state in 2013, with only a quarter of its residents approving of his performance.
But that doesn’t really explain why the economic confidence gap between the District of Columbia and the rest of the country would be so large — especially when states such as Hawaii, which had the second-highest Obama approval rating in 2013, still ran outside the top 10 on the confidence index, at -12.
The real thing that makes D.C. different from every state in the country, and makes it a constant U.S. outlier, is that it is a city. It’s not a state. And constantly comparing the city to states can be misleading.
It’s the same reason Gallup recently found that D.C. is the nation’s most liberal “state,” beating out the likes of Vermont, which elected a self-described socialist to the Senate. Or why The New York Times last year called D.C. the gayest place in the America, a claim that The Washington Post‘s Mark Berman (no relation) dissected a few months back. That dissection fits the new superlatives, too:
The problem: D.C. is a city, not a state. So comparing D.C. ( population: more than 632,000; land area: 61 square miles, according to the Census Bureau) with, say, Oklahoma ( 3.8 million people; 68,000 square miles) or Montana ( 1 million people; 145,000 square miles) doesn’t really work.
This sort of thing happens all the time. Surveys regularly lump D.C. in with the 50 states, despite the inherent dissonance in comparing an urban jurisdiction with states that can house a mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas. And reporters, myself included, will write about these reports, adding in caveats about how it is like comparing apples and oranges (if the oranges were 10 or 20 times as large as the apples).
As a city, D.C. is a pretty skewed sample for a poll of states — especially much larger, realer states such as Texas and California. D.C. may be a supremely liberal city, a very gay (if not the gayest) city, or an abnormally economically confident city. But to compare it to states kind of misses the point, and makes the city seem more removed from the rest of America than it really is.
What We're Following See More »
"Sen. Bernie Sanders, a loyal soldier for Hillary Clinton since he conceded the Democratic presidential nomination in July, plans to push liberal legislation with like-minded senators with or without Clinton’s support if she is elected— and to aggressively oppose appointments that do not pass muster with the party’s left wing." Sanders and other similarly inclined senators are already "plotting legislation" on climate change, prison reform, the minimum wage, and tuition-free college.
"The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use."
Baseball great Curt Schilling says he still needs to clear a challenge to Sen. Elizabeth Warren with his wife, but in the meantime, he's found something to occupy him: the former hurler is going to host a daily online radio show on Breitbart.com. "The show marks Schilling’s return to media six months after ESPN fired him for sharing an anti-transgender Facebook post."
The New Yorker has endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying that "barring some astonishment," she will become the next president. Calling Clinton "distinctly capable," the magazine excoriates Donald Trump as a candidate who "favors conspiracy theory and fantasy, deriving his knowledge from the darker recesses of the Internet and 'the shows.'" Additionally, the historical nature of the possibility of "send[ing] a woman to the White House" is not lost on the editors, who note the possibility more than once in the endorsement.
AT&T agreed to a deal on Saturday to buy Time Warner Inc. for a reported $85.4 billion, a merger that would turn AT&T into a media giant. The two companies announced that they hope to have the deal closed by the end of 2017. However, the completion of the deal will likely not be smooth sailing, as the deal faces potential backlash from antitrust workers, as well as lawmakers. Following the merger's announcement, multiple lawmakers raised skepticism and said they plan to scrutinize the deal further, with Minn. Sen. Amy Klobuchar calling for a hearing.