Richard Florida uses some data to flesh out Defense Secretary Robert Gates recent comment that there is a growing gap between American civilians and the military. Florida suggests part of the issue is the origin of the military personnel: they tend to come from two particular parts of the country.
Aside from relatively high concentrations in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington state, and North Dakota, the military is overwhelmingly concentrated in two distinctive areas of the Sunbelt: The southeast running from Virgina and North Carolina through Kentucky and down through South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi; and the corridor fromTexas through Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming. Texas and California now drop out. The upper mid-west and the northeast, especially New England, which tend to be more liberal and left-leaning than the rest of the nation, have very low concentrations of military personnel.
A couple of thoughts:
1. I don’t think this is terribly surprising (though it is helpful to see it in map form).
2. A question: does the military think it might be worthwhile to try to even out these geographic distributions? If so, how could this be done?
3. Are these differences only due to political views (conservatives vs. liberals) or is this really due to social class?
4. I’m glad Florida added data that accounts for differences in population size – the initial map simply showed more military personnel come from more populous states.