Originally Posted by mordecai
Why? People vote for rhetoric. Republicans don't generally say "We will cut government spending but keep popular entitlement programs"
They say "We will cut government spending" and receive the votes of those most likely to benefit from increased or preserved entitlements
(which is the common platform of Democrats). Obviously there isn't black and white liberal-conservative divide, but I'm speaking in general terms here only related to the chart (taking it at face value).
I understand your point, and i think it's half good and maybe half empty. Republicans don't want to shock their constituency into voting for the other guys via drastic reforms, but the idea that they could really even achieve drastic reforms without facing interest groups, power plays from colleagues on another part of the red-blue scale, filibuster, or veto seems questionable to me.
(1) It really depends on the Republican. Plenty of them have in fact said "we will cut government spending but keep popular entitlements," namely SS and Medicare. See: Medicare part D, GOP cries of Obama "destroying Medicare" with HCR, etc. Many of them play the entitlement card when it suits them. I will grant that they are becoming more consistent on this issue, however.
(2) There is a really interesting phenomenon where rich states
tend to vote for Democrats, and poor states
for Republicans, but rich individuals
for Republicans and poor individuals
for Democrats. A lot of different explanations have been offered to explain this behavior. Personally, I'm sympathetic to the argument that in generally prosperous states, people are less likely to see resources as scarce and therefore less likely to be concerned with welfare state spending going to others.
What you really have going on, essentially, are middle-class and upper-class people in Red states who see a lot of poverty around them, often with a significant racial divide between the classes, and they vote against continuing support for those poor people. And they're able to do this with the support of some amount of working class whites voting based on cultural or racial preferences. Meanwhile, the poor folks in Red states do continue to generally vote for Democrats. If people making under $20,000/year were the only voters in '08, Obama would have swept 48 states, including the entire South except for West Virginia.
It's sort of the same thing as with race; during the Democratic primary of '08, the higher the black population of the state, the higher the percentage of the white vote that Hillary tended to win. States with more poverty tend to polarize voters and drive middle and upper class voters in higher margins to elected officials who promise to cut off aid to the poor, and this is especially true in states with high minority populations as in much of the South.