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Politifact: 95 of the 100 poorest counties are located in Red states

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A recent meme created by Occupy Democrats on July 27, and posted on the social media sites Facebook and Twitter, said that “97 percent of the 100 poorest counties in America are in Red states, but tell me again how Republican policies grow the economy?” This meme was recently check for its accuracy.

The fact checking website Politifact saw the meme as well as a few others all basically saying that “Republican policies" are causing poverty, but the meme by Occupy Democrats was very specific with its accusations saying that "97 percent of the 100 poorest counties in America are in Red states". That statement was the focus for Politifact.

Politifact starts out saying that it was “too subjective a question to be fact-checked”, but then they changed their minds and “decided to take a closer look”. And through their methodology they discovered that the meme was just about spot-on.

Politifact explains their methodology.

“To determine the nation’s 100 poorest counties, we downloaded data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. This data covers five years ending in 2012, and includes more than 3,000 counties and county equivalents (such as Louisiana parishes). This data enabled us to rank-order these jurisdictions based on two commonly used measurements -- median income, and percentage of the population in poverty.”

“As for determining whether a state is "red" or "blue," we decided to define it by whether the state voted for President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in 2012. This means we counted North Carolina and Indiana as red states, since Obama lost them in 2012 after winning them in 2008. (Though either way, the differences would have been marginal.)”

So how did the data turn out?

For median income, Politifact found that 95 of the 100 poorest counties were located in Red states. Here are the 10 poorest, all of them in Red states:

  1. Owsley County, KY.
  2. Jefferson County, MS.
  3. Wolfe County, KY.
  4. Brooks County, TX
  5. McCreary County, KY.
  6. Hudspeth County, TX
  7. Hancock County, TN
  8. Jackson County, KY
  9. Clay County, KY
  10. Holmes County, MS

For percentage of residents in poverty, Politifact found that 93 of the 100 poorest counties were in Red states. Here are the 10 with the highest poverty rates, all of them in Red states:

  1. Shannon County, SD
  2. Clay County, GA
  3. East Carroll Parish, LA
  4. Sioux County, ND
  5. Todd County, SD
  6. Hudspeth County, TX
  7. Holmes County, MS
  8. Corson County, SD
  9. Wolfe County, KY
  10. Humphreys County, MS

Politifact states that there are “some differences between the most recent Census data and what the meme said, but they are pretty small. Numerically, we don’t have much to quibble with.”

Politifact ruling.

The meme said that "97 percent of the 100 poorest counties in America are in red states." According to the most recent data, that’s a few percentage points high, but not by much.

However, measuring a county’s lack of affluence this way skews the map of poorest places toward rural states (which tend to be red) and away from big cities (which tend to be blue). This undercuts the simplicity of the meme’s political message.

The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, so we rate it Mostly True.