September 18, 2014

The geography of transplant Senators

An earlier post explained why status-striving times would lead toward more of a carpetbagger pattern among those seeking and holding political office. The norms of laissez-faire and winning at any cost will allow strivers to leave their own neck of the woods if the competition is too stiff, and strike at a softer target.

This predicts that where the locals are not very deeply rooted themselves, transplant politicians will have greater success. Weakly rooted locals could be very recent transplants, or they could go back just a generation or two at most.

Our President is weakly rooted in the country he is in charge of, as was Chester A. Arthur (to a lesser extent) back in the original Gilded Age. But they are not transplants from another nation. To uncover carpetbagger behavior, we need to look at a lower level. Senators are both powerful and important players, as well as easy to study: they represent a state, so we only need to look at how rooted they are in that state (whereas Representatives represent districts, and mayors control cities).

How should we measure a person's connection to a place, from deeply to weakly rooted? We could look further back into their family history or look at where they currently have family ties and get a better picture, but for ease of study I'm going with an individual-level measure.

I looked at where they were born, where they went to high school, where they graduated from college, and where they received an advanced degree. Where they went to high school seemed like the best single measure of where they were from. Where they were born was fairly good, too, but it's not uncommon to be born in one place and move during early childhood to another, where you come of age. College and professional school attendance is a weaker level of connection, but at least it's something. The least rooted people didn't even go to school where they live.

Why not things like operating a business? By the time you can successfully operate a business, your brain is no longer impressionable, and you no are no longer imprinting on your surroundings. You may like the place, and the place may like you, you may even intend to stay there for the rest of your life, but it is still your adoptive place. Following its norms and interacting with its locals is like speaking a second language with native speakers, a language you had to study and learn because it was not your mother tongue.

The same goes for starting a family in a certain place: by that age, you're no longer impressionable.*

I've put the entire table of Senators and their rootedness at the end of this post for those who want to dissect it further. Some interesting findings:

Nearly 1/3 of the Senators (29 or 30) did not come of age in the state they now represent.**

Rootedness is not associated with party: 17 of 53 Democrats, 10 of 45 Republicans, and 2 of 2 Independents were not rooted in their state. Setting aside the Independents, the apparently higher rate of rootlessness among Dems was not statistically significant (p = 0.4). Even throwing in the Independents, who show a strong bias toward being outsiders, gave only a marginally significant link between party and rootedness (p = 0.1).

However, Republican transplants headed to states where they would not upset the partisan status quo -- Arizona, Kentucky, Idaho, Utah, etc. Conservatives don't like rocking the boat, so it's unlikely that Republican citizens and office-seekers would invade, say, Minnesota and in one great big electoral troll, transform it into a staunch red state.

Fun fact: John McCain, who LARPs as a Wild West gunslinger, is an East Coaster. He was born in Panama, raised in the DC suburbs of Virginia, went to college in Maryland, and only headed out West at the age of 41 after leaving the Navy. Also, Orrin Hatch, while always a member of the Mormon culture whose center is in Utah, was born and raised around Pittsburgh.

Democrat transplants are more shameless, and were more likely to head toward "swing states" that used to be red but are now blue -- Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina. This is part of the broader trend in the population of blue-staters colonizing red states that were formerly thought to be flyover wastelands or southern backwaters. But hey, if Manhattan wannabes could gentrify Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, and Jersey City in... New Jersey, then surely the NY and DC wannabes can gentrify Virginia and North Carolina.

Regardless of party, which states have elected the least rooted Senators? Both of the state's Senators are outsiders in Colorado, Indiana, New Mexico, and Virginia. Of these, the worst offenders are Colorado's and Virginia's. Michael Bennet (D-CO) was born in India, went to high school in DC, and did undergrad and above in Connecticut. Mark Udall (D) at least comes from the region: he was born and went to high school in Arizona, and did undergrad in Massachusetts. Mark Warner (D-VA) couldn't be any newer to Old Dominion -- born in Indiana, high school in Connecticut, undergrad in DC, and law school in Massachusetts. He serves with Tim Kaine (D), who hails from even farther away in the Midwest: born in Minnesota, high school and college in Missouri, law school in Massachusetts.

The following states have one Senator who did not come of age in their state: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming.

These states have at least one Senator who has no roots there at all, from birth, high school, college, or advanced education: California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

The Mountain states are pretty rootless themselves (what fraction of the population was born and raised there), so naturally they're more open to transplant leaders. New England citizens are fairly rooted, but their would-be leaders have brain-drained out of the region. New Englanders are fairly demoralized, so they don't mind being led by outsiders. The farther out toward a coast, the more transplant friendly. The closer-in toward flyover country, the less.

Notice that the centers of Establishment power (not to be confused with cultural influence) tend to have local Senators -- New York, Texas, Illinois (i.e. Chicago). Every power-seeker with impressive credentials and a ruthless attitude would be attracted to them, so local roots is one of the few traits that could tip the scales toward one or another. The power-seekers who would fail in their own state are going to head out to others -- every state has two Senate seats up for grabs, unlike the House seats that are proportional to population.

Local office-seekers in the colonized states would have an advantage in rootedness, but in credentials and ruthlessness are not going to stand up to the carpetbaggers.

Unless of course the local voters prize rootedness above fancy credentials. Much of the Deep South learned this lesson with the original carpetbaggers during the first Gilded Age, and the region is now mostly impenetrable by faggotizing foreign forces.

The following states have both Senators who were raised locally from birth through their highest education level: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Carolina. Voters in these states don't trust politicians who haven't spent their entire lives there. That's quite a barrier to status-strivers -- not only does it keep out the carpetbaggers, it also ostracizes the local boys who got too big for their britches and went off to an elite college or law school, none of which are in these states. Lord only knows what degenerate influences they could bring back into their home state after becoming infected in college out-of-state.

The following have one Senator who is fully local: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia. Voters in these states are willing to give a pass to one of their Senators, but the other one must have lived their entire lives there.

A final reflection: one Senator from Maryland is fully local, and the other one was born, went to high school, and took a law degree there, but went to college in nearby Pennsylvania. So, strange as it may seem, Marylanders demand more rootedness from their officials than Virginians. But like I said before, these days hardly anyone from Virginia is from Virginia. I attribute this to Maryland having been a greater seat of power historically, and hence had a long entrenched Establishment, whereas Virginia was a center of the military but not of the broader power structure, and so proved more vulnerable to colonization.

Particularly when you move outward from DC, where the strivers all want to be. To the northwest, Montgomery County has had ring after ring of wealthy suburbs for many decades, and PG County and northeast toward Baltimore has been a no-go ghetto for just as long. On the Virginia side to the south and west, you have to go pretty far down south toward Richmond to reach anything like a PG County or Baltimore ghetto barrier. Before then, McLean is just about the only major center of Establishment wealth and power. Otherwise, the more middle-class Arlington and Fairfax counties right outside of DC were ripe for colonization by blue-state transplants.

It's depressing to think that what saved Maryland from becoming as fucked-over politically as Virginia is having a longer history of incredibly wealthy and powerful people squatting on the desirable land near DC, and frightening levels of crime, drugs, and violence around Baltimore. Whereas the more egalitarian and white counterpart regions of Virginia had neither Establishment muscle nor scary black hordes to discourage would-be colonists.

Of course, Virginia would not have needed to deter gentrifiers if it were not located right next to a central target of status-strivers. Ditto for North Carolina if it were not home to Research Triangle. You can be egalitarian and homogeneous far away from power centers, like the Dakotas.

But once that kind of place finds itself near a power center, its egalitarian and homogeneous qualities will only amplify its attractiveness to carpetbaggers who could give a shit about preserving those very qualities -- "You mean I get to hipsterize an up-and-coming nabe, NOT have to pay out the ass to dislodge an entrenched elite, AND not have to save on rent by living near violent dark-skins? AWESOME SAAAAUCE."

The carpetbaggers hoard their gold, truck in immigrants to pay lower wages for their upscale lawn maintenance, in-home foster care for career-mommy's neglected children, and so on and so forth. In a few short generations, the whole place is wrecked, and it will take a miracle to rebuild it, if it happens ever. Still, the fact that citizens in the Deep South have managed to throw up barriers, having preserved the memory of being stung by carpetbaggers over 100 years ago, shows that the phenomenon can be reversed and guarded against in the future.

I wanted to focus mainly on the geography of carpetbagging, although there are surely other ways to analyze the data on Senators' level of rootedness. Compared to the Senate as a whole, are carpetbaggers more likely to be male? Older or younger? Incumbent or entrant? Etc. I don't think there will be as many illuminating patterns there -- just what it takes to be an amoral entrepreneur. The main interest here is which places are more affected, and why.

You could also look into which states produce the most Senators, or which colleges and law schools, to study the "over-production of elites." If there are too many aspiring elites on the East Coast, they'll have to head somewhere else like Colorado, where local elite production is not so kicked into overdrive.

* You may intend for your kids to grow up there, which is a way of casting your lot with your adoptive place -- but then you might very well move the family to some other place. That won't sting as much for transplant parents either.

Childless cosmopolitans shop around for the city and neighborhood that are most to their liking and within their price range, a geographical decision that may change several times and by large distances during adulthood. But the same is true for family-raising suburbanites in status-striving times. Wherever mommy and/or daddy can find a higher-status job, enjoy a higher-status house, lifestyle, and so on, is where they're going to go -- whether the kids are already attached to some place or not.

Urbanites feel less anxious city-hopping because they expect certain things to be in place no matter which particular cosmopolis they're setting off for, and the same is true for suburbanite parents who don't mind uprooting their children because, they rationalize, the suburbs are all basically the same (in a good way), so what does it matter which particular 'burb the kids are growing up in this year?

Obviously having no kids provides even less friction for location-hopping, but raising a family does not provide as much glue in status-striving times to qualify the parents as being rooted in a place.

** I put Cornyn as rooted in Texas even though he graduated high school in Japan, where he stayed for only two years while his father was stationed there in the military. He was born, went to college, and got his law degree in Texas.

Appendix: Rootedness of American Senators, 2014

These are sorted alphabetically by state for two groups -- transplants first, then natives. Transplants have a value in the final column, age at which they began residing in their state if they're not a native. Natives have a blank in this column. The age estimates are close-enough guesses, based on graduating college, beginning law school, etc., or using other dates from their biographies to ballpark the age in question. You can sort the table however else you want in a spreadsheet program.

state senator party birth hs grad uni grad adv grad age residing, transplants
AZ John McCain  R Panama VA MD
CA Barbara Boxer  D NY NY NY
CO Michael Bennet  D India DC CT CT 30s
CO Mark Udall  D AZ AZ MA
CT Richard Blumenthal  D NY NY MA CT 20s
DE Tom Carper  D WV OH OH DE 27
GA Saxby Chambliss  R NC LA GA TN 20
ID Jim Risch  R WI WI ID ID 20
IN Dan Coats  R MI MI IL IN 27
IN Joe Donnelly  D NY NY IN IN 20
KY Rand Paul  R PA TX TX NC 30
MA Elizabeth Warren  D OK OK TX NJ 43
ME Angus King  I VA VA NH VA 28
NC Kay Hagan  D NC FL FL NC 25
NE Mike Johanns  R IA IA MN NE 23
NH Jeanne Shaheen  D MO PA PA MS 26
NM Tom Udall  D AZ AZ AZ NM 27
NM Martin Heinrich  D NV MO MO
OR Ron Wyden  D KS CA CA OR 23
PA Pat Toomey  R RI RI MA
RI Sheldon Whitehouse  D NY NH CT VA 30S
UT Orrin Hatch  R PA PA UT PA 20
VA Mark Warner  D IN CT DC MA 30s
VA Tim Kaine  D MN MO MO MA 25
VT Bernie Sanders  I NY NY IL
WA Maria Cantwell  D IN IN OH
WI Ron Johnson  R MN MN MN
WV Jay Rockefeller  D NY NH MA
WY John Barrasso  R PA PA DC DC 30
AL Richard Shelby  R AL AL AL AL
AL Jeff Sessions  R AL AL AL AL
AK Lisa Murkowski  R AK AK DC OR
AK Mark Begich  D AK AK

AZ Jeff Flake  R AZ AZ UT

AR John Boozman  R LA AR AR TN
AR Mark Pryor  D AR AR AR AR
CA Dianne Feinstein  D CA CA CA

CT Chris Murphy  D NY CT MA CT
DE Chris Coons  D CT DE MA CT
FL Bill Nelson  D FL FL CT VA
FL Marco Rubio  R FL FL FL FL
GA Johnny Isakson  R GA GA GA

HI Mazie Hirono  D Japan HI HI DC
HI Brian Schatz  D MI HI CA

ID Mike Crapo  R ID ID UT CT
IL Dick Durbin  D IL IL DC DC
IL Mark Kirk  R IL IL NY DC
IA Chuck Grassley  R IA IA IA

IA Tom Harkin  D IA IA IA DC
KS Pat Roberts  R KS KS KS

KS Jerry Moran  R KS KS KS KS
KY Mitch McConnell  R AL KY KY KY
LA Mary Landrieu  D VA LA LA

LA David Vitter  R LA LA MA LA
ME Susan Collins  R ME ME NY

MD Barbara Mikulski  D MD MD MD MD
MD Ben Cardin  D MD MD PA MD
MA Ed Markey  D MA MA MA MA
MI Carl Levin  D MI MI PA MA
MI Debbie Stabenow  D MI MI MI MI
MN Al Franken  D NY MN MA

MN Amy Klobuchar  D MN MN CT IL
MS Thad Cochran  R MS MS MS MS
MS Roger Wicker  R MS MS MS MS
MO Roy Blunt  R MO MO MO MO
MO Claire McCaskill  D MO MO MO MO
MT Jon Tester  D MT MT MT

MT John Walsh  D MT MT NY

NE Deb Fischer  R NE NE NE

NV Harry Reid  D NV NV UT DC
NV Dean Heller  R CA NV CA

NH Kelly Ayotte  R NH NH PA PA
NJ Bob Menendez  D NY NJ NJ NJ
NJ Cory Booker  D DC NJ CA CT
NY Chuck Schumer  D NY NY MA MA
NY Kirsten Gillibrand  D NY NY NH CA
NC Richard Burr  R VA NC NC

ND Heidi Heitkamp  D MN ND ND OR
ND John Hoeven  R ND ND NH IL
OH Sherrod Brown  D OH OH CT OH
OH Rob Portman  R OH OH NH MI
OK Jim Inhofe  R IA OK OK

OK Tom Coburn  R WY OK OK OK
OR Jeff Merkley  D OR OR CA NJ
PA Bob Casey, Jr.  D PA PA MA DC
RI Jack Reed  D RI RI NY MA
SC Lindsey Graham  R SC SC SC SC
SC Tim Scott  R SC SC SC SC
SD Tim Johnson  D SD SD SD SD
SD John Thune  R SD SD CA SD
TN Lamar Alexander  R TN TN TN NY
TN Bob Corker  R SC TN TN

TX John Cornyn  R TX Japan TX TX
TX Ted Cruz  R Canada TX NJ MA
UT Mike Lee  R AZ UT UT UT
VT Patrick Leahy  D VT VT VT DC
WA Patty Murray  D WA WA WA

WV Joe Manchin  D WV WV WV

WI Tammy Baldwin  D WI WI MA WI
WY Mike Enzi  R WA WY DC CO

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