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Massachusetts Has Sharpest P-RADAR, Best At Picking Good Presidents and Avoiding Bad Ones

Taking local candidates out of the mix, the states most improved during this past century at spotting non-local talent include New York, by far the best (with a 81.0% improvement), followed by Indiana, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, and Maine, all of these being states that have improved 30% or more. Of states whose capability to spot non-local talent has eroded, Ohio holds the bottom spot with a net decline of 99.6%, followed by Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Florida, Massachusetts, and Kentucky all of which declined at least 50%.


Why do certain states have better P-RADAR than others? We can clearly presume that the vast majority of Americans sincerely want better leaders, if only for reasons of national pride and self-preservation. Yet, people often disagree on what priorities a good leader ought to focus on -- some feel long term stewardship of the nation's economy, defenses and status in the world is most important, others feel the focus ought to be on the immediate needs of the less fortunate.

So then, who wins this horse race? Which segments of the populace end up best selecting successful leaders while shunning bad ones? Is it the amount of education in the voter populace? How urban a state is? How wealthy? How evenly individual income is distributed?

I compared my P-RADAR data against a number of census databases to see which might correlate most closely with the state results --


The strongest correlation, by far, ended up being tied to, wait for it... GENDER. Apparently, the higher the ratio of men to women in a state, the better the odds the state selected for what are widely considered good presidents. Yet, this is far from the whole story. The next strongest correlations were to states with fewer retirees, more people stashing away money for the future, higher personal education levels, states with a younger populace (not necessarily young people, but a younger skewing population), and higher state economic growth rates.

There was also some correlation between states with higher average personal income and a state having fewer welfare recipients -- both were weakly correlated to a higher P-RADAR. High voter turnout rates and the ratio of rural vs urban population seemed to have minimal effect on P-RADAR, and there seemed to be no correlation at all when it came to lower individual income tax burdens. The results are as follows:

  • 9.0 Greater male to female ratio
  • 5.2 Lower percent of households receiving retirement income
  • 5.0 Higher A.G. Edwards Nest Egg Index
  • 4.3 Higher Morgan Quitno Education Index
  • 4.2 Lower median age
  • 3.6 Higher state economic growth rate
  • 2.7 Higher personal income to GDP ratio
  • 2.6 Lower percent of welfare caseloads per hundred people
  • 1.6 Higher voter turn out ratio
  • 0.8 Higher ratio of rural vs urban populace
  • 0.2 Lower individual tax burden to GDP ratio


Looking at the P-RADAR voting maps one can spot other patterns. In the first half of the 20th century, the voter terrain was relatively uniform, with the strongest P-RADAR blip being the educational and cultural center Boston and its satellite Rhode Island. This east coast garrison was balanced by an industrious midwest spanning from Ohio to Illinois and the wide-ranging western swath stretching from Texas to Washington, with Florida holding down the southeastern U.S. The real surprise is Vermont, which came in dead last in its P-RADAR rating.

Since 1960, the map has shifted -- on the east coast, Connecticut, where I grew up, turns out to be the champ, the influence of Massachusetts having diminished, spreading out into the surrounding states as well as the metro New York area. With Connecticut and New Jersey flanking New York City, one can clearly see that New York's upstate, rural sector averages out the whole state, perceptually diminishing its relative influence. In the midwest, while Chicagoland has remained a strong contendor, Michigan has had a very good P-RADAR run since the Kennedy era.

Surprisingly, Wisconsin and Minnesota have fallen to the very bottom of the list (others may discern the reasons for this). Looking to the west, the real shock is how the west coast seems to have pulled inland, to Nevada and New Mexico. I performed some background research to try to discern what led to this result, and can only guess that a lot of ambitious folks have moved out of California, to Las Vegas in the south and Reno in the north, to set up business in a lower tax climate, and that this substantial contingent basically 'runs' Nevada, to the diminishment of California.

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