There is a quite bizarre little feature in today’s edition of the celebrated Dallas Morning News religion section. It’s an almost random set of statistics about life in the whole red-blue age, with an emphasis on what the News calls the infrared and ultraviolet states — the really extreme examples of the two extremes.
Infrared America includes, in alphabetical order: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Ultraviolet America is California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
It’s kind of fun, but I still have no idea what the point of the exercise is.
First of all, the non-Borg (I assume, even with its new Reformed component) here at GetReligion never really thought much of the red state-blue state thing, since that really tells us more about the electoral college than it does about the American people. I do, however, think the key is the difference between red zip codes and blue zip codes. That’s where you can find the really interesting differences in beliefs and lifestyles, even in locations as stereotyped as, well, Dallas. There are blue zip codes almost everywhere and, right in New York City, there are some red zones. But I digress.
I also thought it was strange that the News didn’t really get into the “pew gap” issue in American political life, since that is the issue that turned up the flame under the red-blue pot in the first place. I would have, as always, appreciated some breakouts about people in Dallas and Texas, since that is where, I assume, most News readers live and worship.
But we do find out that ultraviolets have more education than the infrared and we learn, no surprise:
More “I do’s” among the red than the blue
Marriage is far more prevalent in infrared states. Nineteen of the 23 have a higher percentage of married adult residents than the U.S. average (Led by Idaho and Utah, at 62 percent each). Eight of the states with the lowest percentages are ultraviolet. (The lowest, by far, is the District of Columbia, at 36 percent.)
It’s a strange little feature. Are we supposed to chuckle or merely shake our heads in wonder?