We College football fans know that among the game’s charms are the traditions its steeped in — family traditions, trading memories with aunts and uncles about how worked up grandpa used to get as we all gathered to watch games over Thanksgiving — institutional traditions, when age-old rivals pair off yet again in late-season games — and personal traditions, when alums use going to a game as an excuse to find time to gather with friends from their youth.

One of the oldest of these traditions are the debates ignited by polls that rank teams. Fans ceaselessly debate what theses rankings really mean. Is some team’s schedule too soft? Does another get rewarded for running up the score? Do the polls have a bias against western teams? Does the BCS unfairly exclude most colleges from even a shot at a national championship? When TCU ended its season undefeated over the weekend, it added yet another wrinkle to this ancient end-of-season ritual.

Inspired by all this, I thought the Dark Horse ought to do some rankings of its own and see if it can’t spark some debate. So in what I hope will be the first of a series of rankings, I’ve here listed all 50 states by how healthy they are, and matched them with whether they voted for Team Obama (“Go Blue!”) or Team McCain (“Go Big Red!”) in the last election. So with a playful, tongue-firmly-in-cheek spirit, here’s what this ranking looks like.

You can find the ranking of all 50 states at the end of this blog.

Who’s #1? Vermont, the Green Mountain State, wins this honor, and we wonder if the fact that its former Governor, Howard Dean, was a physician has anything to do with this.

A quick glance shows that Team Obama dominated the top rankings. 9 out of the top 10 states went Blue, as did an impressive 13 of the top 15, and 14 of the top 20.

If we dip down to see the top 25, Team Obama grabbed 18 of those. To put this differently, Team McCain managed to win just 28% of the games played in the top-25 healthiest states.

And notice where the 7 most-healthy Red states are located. All are west of the Mississippi, and not one of them is southern — the region that most reliably supports the GOP at the presidential level. Virginia, the only old southern state to crack the top-25, left the Republican fold in ’08.

Now let’s look at those states that bring up the rear. The bottom 10 are a mirror image of the top 10 — Team McCain won an eye-opening 9 of the 10 contests among the nation’s least-healthy states. It prevailed in 12 of the matches waged in the 15 least healthy states. That’s an 80% winning percentage, for those of you who don’t have a calculator at hand.

So what’s it all mean?
 Does this help explain the position the two parties have taken on health care reform?
 Are sick Americans a heretofore unappreciated part of the GOP base?
 Are Democrats the sort of vegetarian-eating, skim-milk drinking, holier-than-thou types that can’t throw a good party (the fun kind of party, not the political kind)?
 And what’s going on in the old South? 66.6% of the 15 most ill states in the Union come from there, and that’s if we DON’T count Oklahoma or Missouri as southern states.

Now fans of the Elephant’s Team and those who rally behind the Donkey mascot might want to dispute some or all of this. And that’s just what rankings and polls are supposed to do, so let us know what you think: Take a gander at the ranking below, and …..Let the debate begin!


State Ranked by Health & Presidential Vote

State         Health    Voted       State   Health   Voted
VT                 1        Obama        MT          26     McCain
UT                 2       McCain         AZ          27    McCain
MA                3       Obama         PA           28    Obama
HI                 4        Obama         IL           29    Obama
NH               5        Obama         MI          30    Obama
MN               6       Obama         NM          31    Obama
CT                7        Obama         DE           32    Obama
CO               8       Obama         OH            33    Obama
ME               9       Obama         AK            34    McCain
RI               10      Obama          IN              35    Obama
WA             11      Obama          FL              36    Obama
WI              12      Obama          NC             37    Obama
OR             13      Obama          MO             38    McCain
ID              14      McCain         TX               39    McCain
IA              15      Obama         AR               40     McCain
NB             16      McCain         KY              41    McCain
ND             17      McCain         WV             42    McCain
NJ             18      Obama         GA                43    McCain
WY            19      McCain         TN              44    McCain
SD             20      McCain         NV              45    Obama
MD            21      Obama         SC                46    McCain
VA            21       Obama         LA                47    McCain
CA           23       Obama         AL                48    McCain
KS           24       McCain         OK               49    McCain
NY           25       Obama         MS                50    McCain

Ranking Source: America’s Health Ranking:

We’re calling Nebraska for McCain, even though Obama did win one of its Electoral College votes. Those quirky Cornhuskers don’t award their E.C. votes on a winner-take-all basis.

States with the same ranking had identical health scores.


5 Responses

  1. That is awesome! It is interesting! I am still digesting it and I will let you know what I think!

    Good good post!!!

  2. This is really fascinating! Now I’m interested in finding out how many people in each state have health insurance. You would think that more people would have coverage in the healthy states; however, it seems like a lot of people with the best coverage are the ones who don’t support the Democrat’s plan for reform.

  3. Less tongue-in-cheek, many retirees have migrated south. Retirees are older and probably have, on the whole, more health issues. We all know, in our own lives, how difficult change is. I think this only gets more difficult as we age. Also, since retirees have Medicare and Medicade there is less incentive for them to be in favor of health reform. Further, scare tactics about how a new health system will treat the elderly further pushes them to favor the status quo. So perhaps its not that surprising that “less healthy states” say GO BIG RED.

  4. You make an interesting point regarding retires John. However most retires move to coast states and not the deep south where the majority of poorly performing states are. Poor conditions in rural states like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Kentucky, are attributable to poor health care structure and high rates of poverty not large populations of the elderly.

  5. […] } Following Dan’s recent post regarding health rankings, commenter Rachel Marshall wondered whether there was a relationship […]

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