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Relative and absolute poverty in Colorado

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Relative and absolute poverty in Colorado effects on political participation
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Hundsdorfer, Tim
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vi, 94 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

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Poor -- Political activity -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Political participation -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Political participation ( fast )
Poor -- Political activity ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 84-94).
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Department of Political Science
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by Tim Hundsdorfer.

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Full Text
RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE POVERTY IN COLORADO:
EFFECTS ON POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
by
Tim Hundsdorfer
B.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 1988
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
1999


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Tim Hundsdorfer
has been approved
by
Glenn Morris
Date
11


Hundsdorfer, Timothy D. (M.A., Political Science)
Relative and Absolute Poverty In Colorado: Effects on Political Participation
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Tony Robinson
ABSTRACT
Relative poverty is a well-studied sociological phenomenon. Unlike absolute
poverty, which involves the inability to meet the needs of one's self and one's family;
relative poverty involves a comparison of socioeconomic status. There are
fundamental differences in the political philosophy behind each measure of poverty.
With globalization and de-industrialization of our nation's economy, many
scholars had already demonstrated how the disparity between socioeconomic classes
is rising, increasing relative poverty. Colorado's economy is quite advanced, in a
global/post-industrial sense. This paper examines the political effects of this new
political economy in our state, with particular attention to the possible effects of
increasing relative poverty.
The effects of social stratification generally manifest themselves in declining
support for social institutions in poor and low-income areas. These institutions are
considered by many scholars to be very important for disseminating political
information and encouraging forms of formal political participation such as voting.
Voter turnout generally correlates negatively with poverty and positively with
income: areas of high poverty should have lower voter turnout. Therefore, it is
reasonable to assume that in an advanced and socially stratified post-industrial
political economy we would expect to see voter turnout on the decline, particularly in
high poverty counties. However, in Colorado counties, there appears to be little
correlation between relative or absolute poverty and political participation.
in


Reasons for this unforeseen phenomenon appear to be a combination of rapid
growth, political culture and political leadership, all of which have different effects in
different counties across the state. Lack of a relationship between the variables of
poverty and participation emphasize the importance of careful attention to the
research design.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend
its publication.
IV


CONTENTS
List of Figures..................................vi.
List of Tables..................................vii.
CHAPTER
1. RELATIVE POVERTY................................1
2. POVERTY LINE AND ABSOLUTE POVERTY..............11
3. GLOBALIZATION/POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY AND THE
GROWTH OF RELATIVE POVERTY......................17
4. COLORADO AS A POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY..........25
5. RELATIVE POVERTY AND ITS POLITICAL EFFECTS.....38
6. ANALYSIS.......................................44
7. CONCLUSION.....................................61
APPENDIX
A. "SECOND HOME" VOTERS INFLUENCE TURNOUT.........70
B. MAP OF COLORADO COUNTIES.......................73
C. GRAPHS.........................................74
BIBLIOGRAPHY
84


FIGURES
Figure
C. 1 Real Annual Income of Poor, Middle Class and Rich Households......74
C.2 Turnout versus Relative Poverty....................................75
C.3 Turnout versus Absolute Poverty....................................76
C.4 Turnout and Education..............................................77
C.5 Turnout and Household Income.......................................78
C.6 Turnout 1996 General (Denver City Council Districts)...............79
C.7 Non-White Population, Colorado Counties...........................80-81
C.8 Turnout versus Non-White Population...............................82
VI


TABLES
Table
4.1 Relative Poverty Rates (Selected Counties), 1980-1990...............27
4.2 Absolute Poverty Rates (Selected Counties), 1980-1990...............29
4.3 Voting Age Population (Selected Counties), 1980-1990................30
4.4 Absolute and Relative Poverty in High Turnout Counties..............51
vii


CHAPTER 1
RELATIVE POVERTY
It has never been easy to live on the wrong side of the tracks. But
in the economically robust 1990s, with sprawling new houses and three-
car garages sprouting like cornstalks on the Midwestern prairie, the sting
that comes with scarcity gets rubbed with an extra bit of salt (Johnson,
1998).
Dirk Johnson tells the story of a 13-year-old girl in Dixon, Illinois. While not
living below the poverty line, Wendy Williams' family is among the poorest in town.
Unlike students in some urban pockets, isolated from affluence,
Wendy receives the same education as a girl from a $300,000 house in the
Idle Oaks subdivision. The flip side of that coin is the public spectacle of
economic struggle (Johnson, 1998).
As opposed to stories like Wendy's, Jonathan Kozol (1988) tells stories of
bitter poverty: families desperately seeking shelter for the night; kids playing on toxic
playgrounds; schools crumbling apart around students who cannot stay awake in class
because of malnutrition. Wendy's story is not the same. Certainly, in many ways her
story is not as horrible, but potentially more dangerous. Wendy's story is one of lost
potential, marginalization and isolation.
A bright girl with a flair for art, writing and numbers, Wendy stays
up late most nights, reading books. "The Miracle Worker" was a recent
favorite. ... But when a teacher asked her to join an elevated class for
algebra, she politely declined. "I get picked on for my clothes and living
in a trailer park," said Wendy, who never brings anyone home from
school. "I don't want to get picked on for being a nerd, too." ... Her
mother, who watched three other daughters drop out of school and have
1


babies as teen-agers, has told Wendy time and again: "Don't lose your
self-esteem" (Johnson, 1998).
This paper is an examination of the situation of Wendy and millions of
children and adults like her. While able to meet basic needs, the pain of their relative
poverty is just as real. Her treatment is an important commentary on class relations in
the U.S. and how they are evolving as we move to a post-industrial political
economy. Certainly, this is not the first time American political culture has been
characterized by polarized socio-economic classes, and the dynamics driving class
difference may be cyclical (Piven & Cloward, 1977), but social stratification in hard
economic times has historically been a focal point of unrest. This paper will attempt
to distinguish whether the change in class dynamics has a political effectas we
would expect given the body of literature which shows an overall lack of political
participation among the poor.
America treats its working poor much like Wendy's classmates at Ronald
Reagan High School treat her. In a consumer society, those who fail to consume are
punished and ostracized (Greider, 1997). Failing to keep up with the rest of the
crowd means one is left out. This is just as true in rural Colorado as it is in rural
Illinois. The unskilled working impoverished are alternately blamed or simply left
behind in the success enjoyed by so many in the 1990's (Braun, 1997; Henwood,
1996; Mann, 1998; Mischel, 1995 & 1997; Reich, 1992). Most Americans believe
success is perhaps more accessible today than ever before (Wolter, 1999), but in
2


reality economic success depends on access to capital (Greider, 1997) and special
skills (Reich, 1992), rather than hard work alone. The post-industrial economy makes
access to capital and employment skills more important than hard work in the ability
to achieve economic success (Reich, 1992 & 1998).
There is some question whether work is even a way out of poverty. Work,
and willingness to work, has been suggested alternately by conservative Lawrence
Mead (1992) and liberal Mickey Kaus (1992) as the primary way to raise people out
of poverty. Certainly, the dogma that one can work one's way out of poverty
dominates the political debate. While work certainly is responsible for an increase in
income, in many cases a substantial enough increase to raise a family out of poverty
(Baldwin, 1995), a number of factors intervene to make it unlikely for work alone to
raise people out of poverty.
Access to affordable housing (England-Joseph, 1992; Fitchen, 1995; Sard &
Daskal, 1998; U.S. General Accounting Office, 1993), education and skills (Baldwin,
1995; Books, 1996 & 1997; Cooper, 1968; De Haan & Gunvalson, 1997; Krantzler &
Terman, 1997; National Center for Children in Poverty, 1997); and access to job-
related benefits such as health insurance (Perreault, et al., 1997; Pollack, 1998) are all
important factors in poverty. There are many questions surrounding access to the
labor market for the poor, especially for the non-white poor (Deseran, 1992; Duncan,
1992; Dudenhefer, 1993, 1994; Fitchen, 1995, Wacquant, 1995). The individual's role
in poverty and how poverty may be overcome is a frequently discussed issue. The
3


question raised is whether it is possible to work one's way out of poverty (much less
to achieve economic success), and, if not, how does this problem affect our society
and our democracy? While there is a wide variety of theories of social poverty, two
major forms stand out: absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is a
threshold of wealth or income beneath which a person, family or community is unable
to meet basic human needs (Shaw, 1996; USDHHS, 1998). Relative poverty is a
measure of one's socio-economic status in relation to one's neighbors or compatriots
(Shaw, 1996).
For the purposes of this paper, relative poverty is roughly the bottom quintile
of incomes in any given county. That is, households with less than 40% of the
median county income are in relative poverty. The percentage of these households as
opposed to the total number of households reporting income is the relative poverty
rate.
The different measures of poverty have drastically different theoretical,
psychological and political connotations. The absolute measure of poverty is very
important because it is a point below which a person fails to meet basic needs.
Politically, those living in absolute poverty live in a dual relationship with society.
Most live in dependence on the government, yet have every reason to be isolated
from it (Piven & Cloward, 1977). Like a character from Dickens or Hugo, these
people are likely to be scratching for survival, rather than seeking a political cure for
their predicament. These people are unlikely to have the time to be patient and wait
4


for political changethey may be more concerned with personal survival than social
revolution. Usually, their choices do not revolve around voting or not, much less
whom to vote for. The system works against them and provides daily tasks to ensure
that the poor have little time to contemplate the social justice of their position (Kozol,
1988; Piven & Cloward, 1977). Jonathan Kozol describes a typical dilemma faced by
the poor on a daily basis in Rachel and Her Children:
A lawyer in Los Angeles describes a scenario repeated daily in
America: A homeless family applies for AFDC. The social worker comes
to the decision that the children are endangered by their lack of shelter.
The children are taken away and placed in foster care. The parents are
no longer eligible for AFDC now because they don't have children. So
the family as a family receives nothing. The children are institutionalized.
The family, as such, ceases to exist. (Kozol, 1988)
Absolute poverty is a measure used to formulate and test the effectiveness of
public policy on the percentage of people in society that cannot meet their most basic
needs (and those of their family.) However, absolute poverty, as a political
springboard, is used to raise judgmental questions regarding individual responsibility
and society's role in protecting children and the indigent. There are times, of course,
as in Paris in 1786 and Russia in 1917, when the absolutely poor may become a
political force. Piven and Cloward argue that the New Deal was a sort of
prophylactic against the socialist machinations of the working classes. In 1990's
America, however, we find the impoverished not much of a political threat. It is
much more likely that they are politically isolated (Cohen & Dawson, 1993). If the
stakes are constantly expanding, the prevailing view holds that it is not the fault of the
5


wealthy if the poor fail to secure their share they are ultimately responsible for their
own positionthe opportunity is (allegedly) there. Prevailing American values assert
that government's only role may be (depending on one's moral bent) to assure that
people have a sort of safety net in hard economic times.
Relative poverty, on the other hand, has an entirely different set of theoretical
dynamics. Rather than Dickens, Hugo or Orwell, the philosophy here is that of
Rousseau, writing in 1753 in his Discourse on Inequality:
...but from the instant one man needed the help of another, and it
was found to be useful for one man to have provisions enough for two,
equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became necessary,
and vast forests were transformed into pleasant fields which had to be
watered with the sweat of men, and where slavery and misery were seen
to germinate and flourish with the crops (Rousseau, 1984).
The political and philosophical use of relative poverty is to provide a
measuring stick for tackling the problem of gross inequalitiesif indeed one considers
it a problem at all. Rousseau's contention that the wealthy succeed at the expense of
the poor is patently at odds with traditional American political culture-that of the far
horizon and rugged individualist. Yet Americans like to think of themselves as
among the most politically egalitarian people and this must be reconciled with the
decline in social equality. American public discourse is married to the concept of one
person, one vote though in reality economic considerations have been warping this
concept since perhaps the very beginning. The right to express one's self in terms of a
6


financial campaign contribution conflicts with the goal of political egalitarianism and
increased social stratification raises the stakes in this conflicts.
Rousseau's contention is that civil society necessarily produces strata of
winners and losers. Those that possess the means to produce always and necessarily
hold advantage over those whom, either through squandering of resources, reduced
aptitude or fate, do not:
...when estates became so multiplied in number and extent as to
cover the whole of the land and every estate to border on another one, no
estate could be enlarged except at the expense of its neighbour; and the
landless supernumeraries, whom weakness or indolence had prevented
from acquiring an estate for themselves, became poor without having lost
anything, because, while everything around them changed they alone
remained unchanged, and so they were obliged to receive their
subsistence-or to steal itfrom the rich; and out of this situation there
was born, according to the different characters of the rich and the poor,
either dominion and servitude, or violence and robbery (Rousseau, 1984).
Therefore, at some point the division of labor creates a situation in which all
members become dependent in varying degrees upon other members. From this
dependency arises the "unnatural" condition of social inequality:
...behold man, who was formerly free and independent, diminished
as a consequence of a multitude of new wants into subjection, one might
say, to the whole of nature and especially to his fellow men, men of whom
he has become a slave, in a sense; if he is rich he needs their services; if
he is poor he needs their aid; and even a middling condition does not
enable him to do without them (Rousseau, 1984).
This theme is the heart of Walden, usually considered a founding document
of the environmental movement (which indeed it is), Walden is also a statement about
7


the source of inequality a la Rousseaucivil society develops inequality necessarily
as a result of inflated wants. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau argues that:
Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not
for want of necessities, but for want of luxuries... (Thoreau, 1966).
Want of consumer goods, Thoreau argues (a sentiment Rousseau would
clearly echo) is a means of entrapping the poor into a system that puts them at a
disadvantage. In order to codify and justify their advanced standing, people with
wealth create systems of justicesystems that legitimize their own right to more at the
expense of others. Relative poverty, then, is a product of the system which is
necessarily created by property rightsrights which, according to Rousseau, are
unnatural and a construction of civil society.
This is the role of relative poverty as I see ita new and more important way
of keeping score in society. I believe that we can see the triumph of individualism
over community as the root cause of a number of social ills. Economic domination,
coupled with other forms of privilege including gender, race, language and
generational, almost certainly leads to political domination. As Dolbeare and Hubbell
(1997) put it, can we have political democracy without some semblance of economic
democracy? Even if, as is certainly the case, the relatively poor do not find that there
is anything unjust about their neighbor's economic success, we would certainly expect
American values to reject the idea that economic success should bring political
power. Nevertheless, most Americans now believe that money does amplify political
8


power (Citizens for Campaign Finance Reform, 1998). Even the Supreme Court
considers money (or at least the option to spend or contribute it to political causes) as
protected political speech guaranteed by the Constitution (Colorado Republican
Federal Campaign Committee et al. v. Federal Election Commission, 1996; Buckley
v. Valeo, 1976).1 2
America is characterized largely by its lack of class-consciousness, but if it
were to develop one on a national scale, we would expect to see it first among the
relatively poor. The relatively poor live in a position where they are exposed to the
largest degree of social stratification. That is, their relative economic position is
farther behind their neighbors than people in less stratified communities.
In this research, I hope to examine whether this position makes the relatively
poor more isolated from political institutions than people in more economically
homogeneous communities. Poor people from communities where there are large
numbers of relatively poor people may actually have a greater degree of isolation than
counties where there are large numbers of poor people, but less relative poverty.
By examining the political behavior of Colorado counties relative to levels of
absolute and relative poverty, I hope to show that increasing social stratification leads
1 "(b) The First Amendment requires the invalidation of the Act's independent expenditure ceiling, its
limitation on a candidate's expenditures from his own personal funds, and its ceilings on overall
campaign expenditures, since those provisions place substantial and direct restrictions on the
ability of candidates, citizens, and associations to engage in protected political expression,
restrictions that the First Amendment cannot tolerate. Pp. 39-59." (Findlaw.com, 1999)
2 With the exception of class critiques articulated by fringe opposition groups.
9


to political isolation and a decline in voting. I will compare the percentage of the
voting age population casting ballots in presidential elections to Colorado counties
poverty rate and the percentage of residents in the lowest income quintile. In this
way, it is hoped that an understanding of the effects of Colorado's rapidly globalizing
economy on the political culture of our state.
10


CHAPTER 2
POVERTY LINE AND ABSOLUTE POVERTY
The poverty theory most frequently used by political scientists and public
policy makers in United States is one of absolute poverty, as expressed by the official
poverty line. Discussion of "poverty" as it relates to political participation, especially
voter turnout, usually involves the "official" poverty rate. Many authors use the
official poverty line without defining the term or putting it in context. Because the
concept of the poverty line and where it came from is so poorly understood, this
omission is problematic. Without an adequate understanding of what the poverty line
is, those outside academe (and more than a few within) are bound to have
misconceptions about the concept being addressed.
The federally established poverty line is a measure of absolute poverty
(USDHHS, 1998). That is, it is a threshold means test of one's ability to meet basic
necessities. Failing to achieve a certain income threshold means that one is in
poverty, thus beneath the poverty "line." The poverty line is abstracted and
somewhat arbitrary, as we shall see.
The "official" poverty line was developed in 1941, by nutritionists within the
U.S. Department of Agriculture. These experts were sent into the market to purchase
the minimum nutritional needs of a family. The costs of their purchases were
11


averaged and then multiplied by three (it was felt that a family should spend a third of
their income on food3) and the result was established as the 'poverty line.' Thus, the
poverty line represents the barest minimum of survival needs for a family (Shaw,
1996; USDHHS, 1998).
This basic formula has survived even to this day. It is tied to the consumer
price index (CPI), which means that in theory it is a good measure of one's ability to
meet nutritional needs, even sixty years after it was developed. There have, however,
been minor modifications. In 1964, the government began to take into account family
size as a mitigating factor in poverty. The poverty line increased as one took into
account more family members.4 In 1974, the government decided that since families
couldn't be in poverty for extended periods, only short-term nutritional needs needed
to be taken into account and the minimum nutritional needs were recalculated,
reducing the poverty line by $3 for every $1 in grocery savings (Shaw 1996).5
The official poverty line has a number of problems, few of which are widely
known. For one thing, it has failed to keep up with American spending habits. For
example, whereas in 1941, automobiles were a luxury, in 1998 they are, if not vital,
much more necessary than fifty years ago. They are also much more expensive to
3 This is known by poverty statisticians as the Engel's Coefficient (Shaw, 1996).
4 The Orshansky
5 5 Because of the mathematical application of the Engel's Coefficient, each $1 spent on food modifies
the poverty line by $3. The redefinition of the nutritional needs of the average American was adopted
by the Nixon Administration and was termed the "Thrifty Food Plan." Obviously, the result was to
12


operate. Housing costs have advanced more quickly than the CPI, as have the costs
of health care and regressive taxes. Furthermore, the nature of the foods we purchase
in 1998prepackaged and processedis entirely different than it was in 1941 (Shaw,
1996; USDHHS, 1998). The changing nature of what food we purchase and where
they are purchased has been widely studied (Shaw, 1996), but these studies have
never had an impact on the poverty line.
In fact, politically, there is little impetus to draw a more accurate poverty line.
Politicians and policy makers generally work to show how their policies have
diminished poverty, even if this is merely a slight of hand.6 7 Once a change reducing
the number of people in poverty is accepted, it is unlikely to ever be rescinded, even
one as ludicrous as the 'Thrifty Food Plan,' because to do so would apparently
increase poverty during the new administration's watch.
The official poverty line also recognizes no difference between rural and
urban poverty. Those in rural poverty presumably have some opportunity to grow or
hunt at least a portion of their food. They may pay higher transportation costs, but
they also have lower housing costs. Overall, the entire U.S. only makes two
redefine millions of people out of poverty without raising their incomes at all (Shaw, 1996; USDHHS,
1998).
6 This is not limited to Republican administrations; the Clinton Administration ruminated on including
food stamps and charity gifts as 'income,' a move that would have redefined a million people out of
poverty. Like so many policy balloons floated during the first Clinton administration, this bad idea
was eventually scrapped.
7 7 Ostensibly because public transportation is not an option. If both rural and urban commuters are
forced to drive, it will be more expensive to drive in the city, of course, with parking fees and
13


allowances for areas of high cost of livingAlaska and Hawaii. Despite the massive
differences in cost of living between areas like Aberdeen, South Dakota and San
Francisco, California, the poverty line remains the same in both areas (USDHHS,
1998).
Perhaps most important is the need for the measurement to account for the
long-term nutritional needs of those living in poverty, particularly children. Children
are much more likely to be in poverty for longer periods of time than any other social
group (Eller, 1995). What is more, the social costs of allowing children to under-
develop because of malnutrition are tremendously high (NCCP, 1997; De Haan &
Gunvalson, 1997; Jensen & Eggebeen, 1994). Yet politically motivated attempts to
redefine people out of poverty by making arbitrary decisions about nutrition have
eroded what were initially established as the 'bare minimum' needs .
It is important to understand that the absolute poverty measure is flawed
because it is a consistently cited determinant of suppressed political participation.
For the reasons I demonstrated, over time the poverty line is likely to understate
poverty. This may mean that over time, the relationship of absolute poverty to
political participation may be changing and should, therefore, become more
pronounced. However, the measure of relative poverty, as a comparison of incomes
and independent of the problems I identified with the "poverty line," should maintain
insurance costs. Nonetheless, if public transportation is an option it will be the most cost-effective
transportation means for the poor.
14


a consistent relationship with political participation regardless of the time period
involved.
The chief point in discussing the official poverty line and the problems that
surround it is that many scholars use it as an identifier or determinant of political
participation, without identifying its problems or even where it came from.
Aside from problems with the official poverty line that I have described,
perhaps it is more important, particularly in today's globalizing economy, to look
beyond the simplistic measure of absolute poverty altogether. As the relative position
of people in society begins to slip further and further behind the wealthy segment,
will middle and lower class Americans be increasingly isolated and politically
inactive?
The isolating and alienating effects of absolute poverty are well-studied
(Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Wacquant; 1995; Wilson, 1996). Those living in absolute
poverty often have less social, economic and political contact than those who are
better off (Cohen & Dawson, 1993). Social isolation makes it difficult for the poor to
receive the important type of political information needed to make informed decisions
and encourage participation. Economic alienation reinforces the situation of the
absolutely poor, making it difficult for them to work their way out of poverty
(Wacquant, 1995). Finally, lack of political contact, whether with elected officials or 8
8 This includes President Reagan's famous attempt to classify ketchup as a vegetable.
15


party operatives almost certainly reinforces beliefs that government works for the
wealthy and deprives the poor of structural mechanisms that might otherwise
encourage their participationeven if this is on a purely superficial, cosmetic level.
The isolation of the absolutely poor has demonstrable effects on their
probability of formally participating in the political system (Nie, Verba & Petrocik,
1976; Stephenson, N.D.; Verba, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993). What effects does
poverty have on the relatively poor? It is widely speculated that the new global
economy will bring with it an increase in relative poverty. If this is the case, what are
the political consequences for our democracy as America (and particularly Colorado)
moves towards a post-industrial economy.
16


CHAPTER 3
GLOBALIZATION/POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY AND
THE GROWTH OF RELATIVE POVERTY
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (1992) divides the globalized
economy into the winning sectors (made up of those whom he terms symbolic
analysts) and the losers (routine producers and, to a lesser extent, in-person service
providers.) Reich's characterization is based on the new global economy and its
polarizing effects on local and national economy. For my purposes, the most
important effect is the escalating disparity between these winners and losers. Reich's
perceived outcome, which is mirrored by Brouwer (1993), Greider (1997), Henwood
(1996), Mead (1998), Mishel (1997 & 1995), Murray (1992), Phillips (1993), and
Rifkin (1996), is important for my thesis. My hypothesis is that the increasing social
stratification resulting from disparity in the division of spoils is a significant influence
on declining political participation and, therefore, increasing political isolation.
The global, post-industrial economy increases social polarization (and with it
relative poverty) in a number of ways. Mobility of capital between national markets
has enforced a number of changes on the national political and economic landscape
(Reich, 1992, 1998; Greider, 1997a; 1997b; Mead, 1998). As different geographical
areas compete for the location of job-creating investments, wages and non-wage labor
costs are driven down, as investors seek the lowest possible costs to improve profits.
17


Mechanization and simplification of production has enabled relatively unskilled
workers in undeveloped countries to successfully compete with more educated and
experienced workers in America, Europe and Japan. Better communications and
transportation has enabled investors to freely roam for the lowest possible labor and
tax costs. Those hardest-hit have been traditional, heavy-industrial workers where
wages are high and areas where social services are strong.
An increasingly deregulated labor force ensures capital access to a low wage
workforce with low non-wage labor costs (e.g. payroll taxes, fringe benefits and paid
leave) (Reich, 1992; Greider, 1997a, 1997b; Mead, 1998). This fact has manifested
itself in drastically reduced rates of U.S. unionization between the 1960's and 1990's
(Brouwer, 1992). De-unionization has been aided by automation through reducing
skills needed for routine production positions. This, in turn, makes it possible to
move routine production jobs overseas, to cheaper labor markets (Reich, 1992;
Greider, 1997; Henwood, 1996; Rifkin, 1996). Given these global economic
dynamics, it should come as little surprise that the real incomes of the lowest two
quintiles (40%) of Americans have dropped since 1973 (Brouwer, 1992; Cassidy,
1995; Henwood, 1999) (See Figure 1.) Richard Gephardt put it, "A rising tide has not
raised all boats; it has only raised some boats" (1997).
Mobility of capital on a global scale also demands that progressive taxation
must be curtailed (Cassidy, 1995; Kantor, 1988). A constant decline in the maximum
individual effective tax rate, lower effective corporate tax rates and a reduction in the
18


capital gains tax rate have all resulted in reducing the tax burden of the wealthiest
Americans (Brouwer, 1992). Meanwhile, the real combined federal, state and local
tax rate on the poorest Americans has never been higher (Brouwer, 1992).
At the same time, the social welfare net is also being deconstructed, partially
to reduce government spending, but also to ensure a pliable, low cost labor market
(Greider, 1997; Piven & Cloward, 1977). The leadership guiding the European
Monetary Union, for example, emphasizes reduced government debt and stable
monetary policy over low unemployment (Greider, 1997). The atmosphere is hardly
different in the U.S. Reich holds certain sentimental attachments to the ability of
training to raise living standards, but the reality of the de-skilled post-industrial
economy may be that advanced training will probably lead to under-employment
(Mead, 1998; Henwood, 1996; Rifkin, 1996). Work-tested welfare reform assures
U.S. companies access to a workforce capable of performing most post-industrial
service positions in return for a very low standard of living. Congressman Gephardt
calls this "a demeaning of work" (1997). For example, although there has been some
improvement in recent years, full time employment at the minimum wage remains a
fraction of what is required to raise one above the poverty line (Henwood, 1999;
Mishel, 1995). Virtually alone on the public stage, Gephardt says the way the to
protect the American standard of living is by protecting workers' rights (1997).
Another effect of the post-industrial economy is the growth of suburbs and the
rise of economic segregation (Reich, 1992; Marcuse, 1997; Wacquant, 1995). The
19


slowing of the suburban trend and gravitation toward urban recreation centers, does
little to counteract economic segregation, instead resulting in a sort of geographic
imperialism of the wealthy classesgentrification (Robinson, 1996). The re-
urbanization has taken place across the nation as young, usually childless
professionals seek to establish chic centers of recreation on the urban frontier,
supplanting low-income neighborhoods. Re-urbanization on a New York model is
clearly underway in Denver, as downtown loft living has grown drastically in the past
decade.
Economic segregation manifests itself on the smallest of scales, as shown in
Johnson's examination of Dixon, Illinois:
The stock market, although it is sputtering now, has made
millionaires of many people in Main Street towns. Building developers
here recently won approval to build a gated community, which will be
called Timber Edge. ... "Wendy goes to school around these rich kids,"
her mother said, "and wonders why she can't have things like they do."
(Johnson, 1998)
The quote above reveals two things. First, Wendy sees the advantages and
material wealth of her classmates and feels deprived of them. Second, the wealthy
are removing themselves from the unwanted company of Wendy and the rest of the
relatively poor. This process is not confined to Dixon, Illinois. All across America,
and in Colorado, the wealthy remove themselves from the company of other
economic classes (Reich, 1992). This phenomenon can take several forms, such as a
displacement of the poor through increasing rents, prices and property values or
20


through coercive urban renewal programs like those that began in Denver in the
1970's and continue today (Robinson, 1996). It may also involve planned
communities that restrict income levels through planning or zoning (MacKenzie,
1994). Not only does this separation create real (sometimes literal) barriers between
rich and poor, it allows the wealthy to withdraw their fiduciary support from public
institutions traditionally funded by tax dollars, e.g. public schools and police
protection (MacKenzie, 1994).
It is exactly this conflictover income distributionswhich makes the
question of relative versus absolute poverty important. Declining real median
income, concurrent with an increase in real average compensation (Mishel, 1995,
1998), underlines the changing nature of our economy and the conflict between the
expanding pie theorists and zero-sum theorists.9 The fact that real median income
declines over the past 20 years while the unemployment level has decreased puts lie
to the myth that "all boats are rising" and reveals the importance of the study of
relative poverty.
Reich leaves the question of the new global economic system's ultimate
sustainability open. Seven years after Reich's writing, it remains a vital question.
Reich and other global economic scholars (especially Greider) address the problem of
who wins and who losses in the global economy (Reich, 1992, 1998; Greider, 1997a,
21


1997b; Mead, 1998). Solutions, for Reich and others, generally revolve around
ensuring that as many Americans as possible move to the winner category. There
seems to be an acceptance that there will be losers, probably large numbers of losers.
Unfortunately, for many scholars, including Reich, the ultimate solution for the losers
appears to be acceptance of the new economic order. There is, however, no
indication that people will accept the new economic order peacefully or without
political consequence.
Ted Gurr (1967) draws a particularly disconcerting picture of the ends
resulting from the growing disparity of social classes:
Our supposition is that theory about civil violence can fruitfully be
based on systematic knowledge about those properties of men which
determine how they react to certain characteristics of their societies. ...
The central premise of the theory is that the necessary precondition for
violent civil conflict is relative deprivation, defined as actor's perception
of discrepancy between their value expectations and their environment's
value capabilities. Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life
to which people believe they are justifiably entitled. The referents of
value capabilities are to be found largely in the social and physical
environment: they are conditions that determine people's chances for
getting or keeping the values they legitimately expect to attain. ( Gurr,
1967, pg. 3).
Gurr goes on to theorize about mitigating and complicating factors with
regard to violent civil conflict. While centered on comparative political behavior and
deeply rooted in the anthropological causes of violence and aggression, Gurr's 9
9 Expanding pie theorists believe that the economy is an expanding pie and that all stakeholders share
in the benefits of economic growth. Zero-sum theorists believe that in order for one stakeholder to get
a greater share, that stakeholder must win at the expense of another stakeholder.
22


argument appears to have a great deal of face validity in today's political/economic
climate.
Gurr is examining the gap between an individual's expectations and their
capability (which is different than relative poverty). It is worth asking ourselves
whether the gap between rich and poorobservable to a 13-year-old girl like Wendy
is not also a source of relative deprivation that might produce similar effects.
While under all economic systems there are winners and losers and certainly
the modem U.S. economy is no exception to this rule, the impact of the post-
industrial economy seems to be that there will be more losers and that the costs of
losing will be much higher. There are more losers in the global economy because the
'losers' under a global economic system are not necessarily absolutely poor. The new
global economy produces many low wage jobs, but unionization and high-wage
routine production jobs decline. Therefore, while employment is plentiful, such
employment is often insufficient to raise one very far above the poverty line, even
with two incomes.10 Furthermore, losers are likely to be deprived of social welfare
programs and segregated into losing communities or neighborhoods, with poor
schools (Reich, 1992, 1998; Greider, 1997a, 1997b; Gephardt, 1997; Mann, 1998;
Mead, 1998; Mischel, 1995,1997; Pollack, 1998).
10 Wilson (1987) considers the two-income family a key component in the fight against poverty. For
Wilson, the lack of marriageable black males constitutes an important cause of black poverty.
Stabilizing families might assist people in advancing out of absolute poverty, but unless one of the
wage-earners is well above minimum wage, it will not raise them out by much.
23



Herein lies an important distinction between absolute and relative poverty.
Unless one is living in a fantasy world, the difficulties associated with life below the
absolute poverty line are fairly self-evident. But in some cases, relative poverty is
less perceptible. Distinctions between a decline in wages, a decline in real wages
(adjusted for inflation), underemployment and advances made by increasing the
number of household work hours make it difficult to determine one's place in the
hierarchy of the new global economy.
Thus, it is clear that the post-industrial economy seems to be leading us
toward a more stratified economy, with larger numbers of economic "losers" and a
large gap between "winners" and "losers." While there is growth in the "winning"
sectors of society, these sectors are far outnumbered by the "losing" sectors and those
sectors that are simply holding their status quo. What is most important for this
research is the extent to which the postindustrial economic model applies to Colorado
and the political effects of economic stratification. I will explore these concepts in
the next two sections.
24


CHAPTER 4
COLORADO AS A POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY
Colorado exhibits many elements of a post-industrial economy. The Colorado
economy, once heavily dependent on the energy sector, has rebuilt itself on a wider
foundation following the slump of the 1980's. Denver has enjoyed eleven
consecutive years of economic growth, has a diverse base of construction, service and
tourism industries to compliment a healthy high-tech (and high value) manufacturing
industry. Leadership in the communications industry, massive capital investments in
biotechnology, high-technology and transportation, and publicly-financed
infrastructure improvements point to Denver's cognizant drive to globalize.
Furthermore, Denver's growing prominence as an "economy of consumption" and the
"cultural commodification" of the American West indicate the degree to which
Denver has asserted itself beyond the regional and even national level (Robinson,
1997).
Denver, as a leader in telecommunications, high-tech production and tourism,
is even argued to be considered a "global" city within a global economic system
(Robinson, 1997). In addition to being global, Denver is also exhibits low rates of
unionization, low non-wage labor costs, and a friendly business climate (RPCCED,
1992).
25


As a result of this economy, we would expect to see relative poverty in
Colorado counties on the rise. In fact, as of 1990 this was not the case. As of 1990
(the date of the last census), relative poverty was about the same as in 1980. In fact,
in a number of key suburban Denver counties, there was a significant drop in relative
poverty in these years. However, it is important to remember that Census dates rarely
correspond to economic milestones. This is particularly true in the case of Denver,
where the census dates (1980 and 1990) are poor indicators of the economic picture
today. However, in assessing relative poverty county-by-county depends on census
datathe only time in which individual income is reported meaning that the
millennial census will be a much better indicator of whether relative poverty is
growing than 1980-1990.11 Prima facie evidence suggests that income differentials
will show a marked increase after the 2000 census, especially in communities where
long-term residents are being replaced by newer, more affluent ones.
The results of the 1980 and 1990 census reject the idea that relative poverty is
growing, even in the metropolitan Denver counties where we would expect this to be
the case, as exhibited by Table 4.1:
11 This is clearly a major limitation of this research. Information on Colorado counties by decile is
only available once every ten years, following the census. This obviously does not conform to
economic cycles.
26


Table 4.1
County Relative Poverty Rate, 1980 Relative Poverty Rate, 1990
Adams 20.5% 16.6%
Arapahoe 14.1% 16.4%
Boulder 18.7% 21.2%
Denver 29.7% 24.4%
Douglas 25.8% 12.7%
Jefferson 27.4% 15.4%
Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993,1984
If Colorado exhibits a post-industrial economy, why is relative poverty on the
decline in key counties, where we would expect the effects of a post-industrial
economy to be most pronounced?
To some extent, this points to a weakness in the use of county-level data for
the purpose of determining relative poverty. The metropolitan county data reflects
exactly the sorts of spatial patterns we would expect to see in a post-industrial
metropolitan area (Kempen & Marcuse, 1997; Marcuse, 1997). That is, the reduction
in relative poverty in most of these counties shows that spatial concentration may
well be taking place, although it may be taking place across the boundaries of the six-
county area. For example Douglas County consolidating its position as an enclave for
the wealthier elements, displacing or swamping the numbers of relatively poor with
27


rapid growth. Apart from whether there is a methodological problem basing relative
poverty figures on counties, this outcome certainly raises a question about the spatial
boundaries of how economic strata arrange themselves and how this manifests itself
in the Denver metropolitan area. Denver's suburbs, exurbs and satellite cities
arguably reach, unbroken, from Fort Collins in the North to Colorado Springs in the
South. The process of segregation into enclaves described by Marcuse (1997) is vital
to understanding the spatial nature inherent in relative poverty, and clearly takes place
at a larger spatial level than the county.
Furthermore, the data presented here really sets up the coming millennial
census, when we would expect to see an increase in relative poverty resulting from
globalization of Denver's economy. Between 1980 and 1990 there was a bust and
then the beginning of a boom. Denver's steps toward globalization were taken toward
the end of the 1980's, with a conscious plan to move Denver in a global direction
(Robinson, 1997). Therefore, census data from the past ten unchecked years of
economic growth in a global direction should produce numbers closer to expectations.
Colorado's current economic growth has fueled employment, but the number
of unemployed remains largely unchanged during the period of each census snapshot
(at just over 6,000) (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998). The decrease in the
unemployment rate arguably has more to do with population growth than the real
number of poor people finding jobs and increasing their relative position in society.
28


While relative poverty declined, absolute poverty rates in the six Denver
metropolitan area counties grew substantially between 1980 and 1990 (remained
constant in Douglas County) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983, 1992), as shown in
Table 4.2:
Table 4.2
County Absolute Poverty Rate, 1980 Absolute Poverty Rate, 1990
Adams 6.0% 10.4%
Arapahoe 3.3% 5.9%
Boulder 5.0% 11.0%
Denver 10.3% 17.1%
Douglas 3.2% 3.2%
Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993,1984
Drastic increases in absolute poverty, particularly in Boulder and Denver
counties, coupled with a general decline in relative poverty, creates a number of
important questions with regards to the relationship of population growth, absolute
and relative poverty.
Obviously large numbers of jobs were being created during 1980 and 1990
(USDOL, 1998; Peck, 1994). The impact of these jobs on the poor, however, appears
negligible. Relative poverty rates can be drastically influenced by how much and in
which demographic groups an areas population is growing. Massive growth in
29


middle income population can diminish relative poverty, at the same time that the
absolute poverty rate is increasing.
Population growth in metropolitan Denver counties is substantial:
Table 4.3
County Voting Age Population, 1980 Voting Age Population, 1990 Change 1980-1990
Adams 167,594 188,203 +12%
Arapahoe 205,221 285,274 +39%
Boulder 142,381 173,728 +22%
Denver 381,488 365,449 -4%
Douglas 16,152 41,636 +153%
Jefferson 253,809 322,459 +24%
Total 1,168,625 1,378,739 +18%
Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993,1984
These drastic population increases in suburban Denver are due to shifts in the
Front Range Colorado economy, drawing skilled workers from other parts of the
country (Robinson, 1996). Furthermore, these increases are expected to continue or
even escalate for the 2000 census, with the exception of Denvers population
turnaround.
Growth in absolute poverty rates during this period suggest that numbers of
the lowest economic stratum are increasing, while the growth in middle income
families might be statistically offsetting the effect of growing numbers of absolutely
30


poor in the calculation of the relative poverty rate. Therefore, the lack of growth in
relative poverty does not mean that Colorado is not a globalized state, but rather that
it is very successful in attracting middle-income workers. Therefore, in the key post-
industrial counties in Colorado, job growth and the influx of a large number of
middle-income families have prevented the appearance of wide social stratification.
Suburbanization is clearly a powerful demographic force in the economy of
the Denver Metropolitan Area between 1980 and 1990 (Peck, 1994). Denver shed
3.4% of its total employment between 1980 and 1990, while the suburban counties
(Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas and Jefferson) added 183,668 jobs, a 47.5%
increase (Peck, 1994). Furthermore, the voting age population of the five suburban
counties grew by 29% between 1980 and 1990, while the population of Denver itself
shrank by 4% (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983, 1992). In 1980, the five suburban
counties made up 67% of the Denver Metropolitan voting age population. By 1990,
they made up 73% of the Denver Metropolitan voting age population. This change
does not necessarily represent flight from Denver, but rather that further population
growth is more difficult in Denver, as it is constitutionally restricted.
The inability to discern relative poverty in these counties is to some extent the
result of planned unit developments in suburban counties. Growth of these
economically homogenized communities (largely responsible for housing the middle
income families discussed above) is certainly a powerful way to reduce relative
poverty. Inhabitants of planned unit developments tend to be of similar income
31


(MacKenzie, 1994). This means that a planned unit development of 2000 units
exhibits a powerful mathematical weight on relative poverty in a county.
Growth of planned unit developments in Colorado is substantial. According
to David Laffone, of Home Builder's Research in Highlands Ranch, almost all
housing starts in the Denver metropolitan area (and Elbert County, which isn't
ordinarily included in Denver metro statistics) are now part of a planned
development. This growth reached 117,609 condominium, townhouse and single
family housing starts between 1980 and 1990. This growth has continued in the
1990's, having reached 102,065 starts through 1997 (Laffone, 1998).
Colorado clearly exhibits signs of socio-economic segregation and
colonization by the wealthy, described by Reich as "secession" (1992). Robinson
(1977) describes the transformation of three Denver neighborhoods as a result of
globalization. In particular, the capital "Flood" occurred in the Lower Downtown
(Lodo) area, where Single resident occupancy hotels were eliminated in favor of a
recreation district and high-end residential lofts. Public investment in a professional
baseball stadium fueled rapid growth in one of Denver's most sought after
neighborhoods. Single resident occupancy hotels are often the last alternative to
homelessness, thus their destruction assured the transformation of the area from
among Denver's poorest in 1980, to a mixed neighborhood in 1990 to one of the most
wealthy in 1998 (Robinson, 1997). Lower downtown's transformation can be seen as
a kind of inward looking, retrogressive imperialism. Even architectural styles suggest
32


fortresses on the urban frontier. Alarms, narrow windows and wide fields of view
give wealthy inner-city residents a sense of security. The radical upward trend in real
estate prices assure that Lodo is no longer a low-cost home for the poor. This trend
should increase relative poverty in the City and County of Denverassuming the low-
income residents being displaced can economically afford to stay in Denver.
The capital "drought" affects the Northeast Downtown (Nodo) area. While
within the same proximate area with Coors Field as Lodo, Nodo has been left behind
as a center for low-end service providers (pawnshops and liquor stores) (Robinson,
1997). Nodo is home to a wide array of social service providers as well, a
concentration which has increased with the enrichment of Lodo (Robinson, 1997).
The concentration of the poor into a confined (and clearly defined) urban space is also
probably an indication of post-industrial geographic patterns of poverty. Despite
moderate growth in the number of absolutely poor people in urban areas, the urban
space allotted for them is declining, thus increasing concentration. Increasing
concentration of poor is the result of declining public investment in subsidized
housing, which results in higher housing costs and increased demand in highly
concentrated, private low-cost housing areas (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995).
Finally, Robinson uses Auraria-Lincoln Park as an area of "gentle irrigation."
Home to the University of Colorado at Denver, Auraria-Lincoln Park was the target
of urban redevelopers in the early 1970's (Robinson, 1997). After a fight, half the
neighborhood was displaced in favor of the urban campus of the University of
33


Colorado system (Noel, 1997). The other half of the neighborhood languished in
Denver's worst poverty between 1980 and 1990 (City and County of Denver, 1994).
Among other neighborhood activists, the rise of a not-for-profit community
development corporation (NEWSED) has led to a number of gradual improvements
(Robinson, 1997). It remains to be seen whether this gradualist approach is vastly
superior, from a progressive perspective. The impact of community development
corporations can be substantial (Quammen, 1996). These improvements, however,
may be attracting middle class young people to the neighborhood, driving up property
values. The end result remains to be seen. If low-income people in such
communities are given opportunities to advance economically, this should reduce
relative poverty in the City and County of Denver, but it is worth reiterating that such
a phenomenon would run counter to national trends (Mishel, 1995).
If there is an influx of more affluent people coming into Denver, particularly
in trendy places like Lodo, why is relative poverty in Denver declining? The problem
with using county-level data to describe a supra-county phenomenon and the rapid
growth of the Denver metropolitan area (including, probably Denver proper), has
some effect.
However, it is probably the difference between present perceptions and past
data that accounts for a great deal of this problem. The census taken in 1990 is likely
to have been the low point for Denver. Lodo was a series of abandoned warehouses
when this census was taken. The 2000 census will no doubt produce different results.
34


Estimates of current average and median income based on mathematical formulas are
insufficient to develop a relative poverty rate~a relative poverty rate depends on
individual reports of income distributions available only after a decennial census.
Economic segregation is clearly underway in Colorado's mountain
communities as well. Telluride is an excellent example (Telluride Publishing, 1998).
The town of Telluride itself dates back to the 1860's. While nearly becoming a ghost
town with the silver bust (1893), the town established a ski area in the 1970's and
developed a stable resident population. The success of the town drew more and more
wealthy skiers, drawn by the town's reputation, isolated location and scenic beauty.
As a result, housing prices went up, drastically. Mining huts (remodeled or not) now
routinely sell for $250,000. But even more stark is nearby Mountain Village.
Connected to Telluride by the ski area's gondola12 and directly attached to the ski
area, Mountain Village is a politically distinct community that is specifically designed
to provide secure living space for the wealthy while still providing easy access to the
culture, clubs, stores and nightlife of Telluride. Mountain Village requires a pass to
enter past the multi-level security checkpoints. Visitors to Mountain Village are
limited to thirty minutes parking. Mountain Village has swimming facilities, a golf
course, ski-in, ski-out access to virtually every home and lighted tennis courtsnone
of which can be used by Telluride residents. While growth of relative poverty in San
12 Proudly touted as the world's only gondola that is part of a mass transit system.
35


Miguel County was slight (going from 19.9% in 1980 to 23.4% in 1990), growth of
real income between 1980 and 1990 was an astounding 34.1% (Census Bureau,
1993).
The impact of growth and social stratification is being felt on the Front Range
as well (Laugesen, 1999). In fact, towns like Lyons (in Boulder County) are being
tom apart by political tensions between lower income longtime residents and more
affluent newcomers (Miller, 1999).
The elements of a post-industrial economy are observable in Colorado. The
rapid rise of economic segregation, both on the urban frontier and in planned unit
developments in the suburbs, also suggests the post-industrial economy is entrenched
on the Front Range and in the mountains of Colorado. Significant growth in key
Denver metropolitan middle-class counties, however, obscures the rise in relative
poverty we would expect to see in global economies.
Such economic stratification, between 1980 and 1990, may be hidden by
growth rates in many key counties. This is a problem for the study of relative poverty
as it relates to pohtical participation. However, the rise in absolute poverty rates
suggests that, as we would expect in a globalized economy, growing numbers of
people are becoming poor, even if they are statistically not as large a proportion of the
population because of the middle-income population growth in those counties.
Furthermore, the study of relative poverty by county may well be flawed. The
best unit of comparison for Colorado could be a community or neighborhood in some
36


people are becoming poor, even if they are statistically not as large a proportion of the
population because of the middle-income population growth in those counties.
Furthermore, the study of relative poverty by county may well be flawed. The
best unit of comparison for Colorado could be a community or neighborhood in some
cases and a region in others. However, such groupings would require profound
knowledge of the political culture, economy and politics of every area of the state.
Currently, even the best analyses of the state are quite general and a little dated
(Cronin & Loevy, 1993).
It is important here to bring up the fact that Colorado, like all states, is only a
year away from a new census. This new census will probably have key data that may
prove important for this study. For the first time, the census data being compared
(1990 and 2000) will reflect Colorado in similar economic situations. However, as
will be demonstrated in the next section, the reality appears to be that neither relative
nor absolute poverty shows very strong relationships with political participation.
Therefore, the question of how this relationship is evolving may be somewhat moot.
37


CHAPTER 5
RELATIVE POVERTY AND ITS POLITICAL EFFECTS
Absolute poverty has a number of demonstrated effects on political
participation (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Abramson & Claggett, 1989; Bennett &
Klecka, 1970; de la Garza & DeSipio, 1996; Greenberg, 1974; Katznelson, 1981;
Miller & Schanks, 1996; Verba, Lehman Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993;
Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994). Scholarship generally points to economic status as
a key indicator of political participation of any sort (Cohen & Dawson, 1993;
Abramson & Claggett, 1989; Bennett & Klecka, 1970; Verba, Lehman Schlozman,
Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994). The same is true of the most
formal practice of casting a ballot in an election (Miller & Schanks, 1996; Verba,
Lehman Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993).
The mechanisms that determine lower turnout in areas of poverty are difficult
to sort out as causes or effects. However, scholarship consistently points to the
decline in functioning social institutionsa decline that generally is associated with
poverty areasas a major cause of declining participation (Cohen & Dawson, 1993;
Erbe, 1964; McClerking, 1998; Miller, 1998; Miller & Shanks, 1996; Wilson, 1987).
Such institutions are vital places of dissemination of political information (Cohen and
38


Dawson, 1993). They are important sources of a psychic connection to the
community (Erbe, 1964; McClerking, 1998; Miller, 1998).
Miller and Shanks (1996) suggest that people formally participating in politics
(by voting) do not share sociological characteristics with people who choose hot to
participate:
The overall conclusion at this stage of our inquiry is that persons
who exhibit above-average social connectedness, hold a sense of party
identification, show an interest in elections, and have more formal
education were visibly less likely to contribute to declining turnout over
time as a consequence of generational differences. Those who are non-
identified, disinterested, less integrated socially, and less well educated
exhibited a larger consequence for turnout resulting from generational
behavior. (Miller & Shanks, 1996, Pg. Ill)-emphasismine.
Intuitively, Miller and Shank's argument makes sense. People who are less
connected to the government and society in general are less likely to feel the
motivation to vote than those who feel they are in some way stakeholders. The
question moves from why people are less likely to formally show support by
participation to why people feel less connected to political institutions.
This is not to diminish the idea that increased relative costs of voting are very
influential in declining voter turnout among the poor. The relative cost of
participation is more difficult for the poor to bear and obviously presents an obstacle
to rational participation (Downs, 1953). Rational choice theory alone, however,
cannot fully explain voting behavior. Involvement in certain social institutions, such
39


as schools, churches and social or political clubs has a demonstrated impact on voting
behavior (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Miller & Schanks, 1996; Miller, 1998).
This disconnection from politically positive social institutions and lack of
social integration potentially manifests itself in a number of ways, but I will broadly
use the term "political isolation" for all of these manifestations. Political isolation is
the disconnection of the individual from political institutions.13 Disconnection
discounts, discredits and effectively removes socially reinforced incentives to
participate in the political system. These are the socially reinforced incentives that
Anthony Downs (1953) suggests are the real drivers of political participation.
Without them, we are left with a rational choice as the sole motivation of whether to
formally participate or not~with costs generally outweighing benefits. The opposite
of motivation is not necessarily isolation,14 but isolation is certainly oppositional to
motivation.
Institutional involvement appears to mitigate such isolation. Institutions
provide individuals with opportunities to empower themselves and exchange
information. Institutional membership increases the likelihood of an individual
13 A case could be made that the politically isolated persons are actually active in non-tradition or
informal institutions, but Cohen & Dawson (1993) and Wilson (1987) suggest this is not the case.
14 Many suggest that lack of motivation stems from satisfaction (Stephenson, N.D.). This may be the
case when one is considering more deep measures of political participation, such as protesting or
working on a campaign (Bennett & Klecka, 1970; Erbe, 1964; Lyons & Lowery, 1986; Thomas, 1982;
Verba, Lehman, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994), but there is usually
some social pressure to vote in satisfied communities. While often cited as a cause of declining
participation, there is little academic evidence that suggests that satisfaction has caused statistically
significant numbers of people to withdraw from the political system.
40


participating in community activity as an activist, as well as formally (by voting)
(Cohen & Dawson, 1993; McClerking, 1998).
Certain civic institutions might also be a rare opportunity to break the barriers
between social classes. Churches, parks, public spaces and community centers are
often used by a wider socio-economic demographic sector than those that work
together or live in the same neighborhood. Particularly in some small, homogeneous
communities, institutions might tend to have a social integration function that builds
community spirit and counteracts the effects of increasing social stratification. Even
if the wealthy chose to send their children to a private school, for example, middle
and lower class people will still enjoy the fruits of an educational institution fiscally
supported in large part by the wealthy. In this way, resentment and envy is probably
reduced and support for the system is maintained and even strengthened (Kaus,
1992).
We can see that there are probably real advantages to people living in
relative poverty (Kempen & Marcuse, 1997)as opposed to relative wealth in an area
of extreme absolute poverty where institutions have been degradedprovided that
community institutions are truly open to them and they have opportunity to take
advantage of those institutions. Advantages might include an opportunity to attend a
better school or to mix in higher strata social networks. In a global economy,
however, this advantage is less likely to work in favor of the poor, both because of
planned real estate developments that restrict socio-economic mixing (MacKenzie,
41


1994) and reduced support for publicly financed institutions (Reich, 1992; Wacquant,
1995) .
The duality on the relationship between the relatively poor and wealthy
underlines another of the differences between past social stratification and
stratification resulting from the global economy. In the past, social stratification has
not taken on the same spatial dimensions that it has under the new economic reality.
While there has always been the wrong side of the tracks and millionaires row,
the millionaires have rarely before incorporated and fenced off their town to avoid the
tax burden of supporting the relatively poor. In addition, in the late 1990s they have
gravitated toward a single geographic area where they can gain political
predominance or drive out lower income people with high rents and restrictive
zoning.
The global economy, despite its tendency to polarize society in general
actually may economically homogenize individual (particularly small) communities
and therefore cause a decline in social institutions in poor communities (Reich, 1992;
Greider, 1997a; Kaus, 1992; Wilson, 1987,1991 & 1992). According to scholars like
Reich (1992) and Grieder (1997a), we would expect a post-industrial, globalized
economy to exhibit signs of economic stratification and starkly delineated class space.
This spatial dimension has tragic consequences when applied to absolute
poverty (Wilson, 1987, 1996; Wilson & Aponte, 1985; Wacquant, 1985). Marcuse
(1997) has explored the totalization of all spatial economic distributions. That is, in a
42


global economy, the tendency is for class space to move toward exclusivity.
According to Marcuse, rather than sustaining a mix of classes, ghettoes, enclaves and
fortresses become communities exclusively of like socioeconomic classes.
If the global economy speeds the decline in public institutions and these
institutions are recognized as causal factors driving formal political participation
(voting), it is logical to expect declining voter turnout in broad areas (such as
counties) of an advanced economy and high relative poverty. This raises the
questions of which institutions have positive influence and which have negative
influence. Furthermore, the question might legitimately be asked whether the
influence of institutions are causal or whether decline in such institutions is the result
of increasing social isolation. In fact, the decline in public institutions and increasing
political isolation are probably interrelated (Miller, 1998). By reducing the positive
impact of public institutions, we may surmise that increasing stratification of social
classes in the U.S. may lead to increasing social isolation and declining participation
(Brouwer, 1993; Cassidy, 1995).
43


CHAPTER 6
ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
I chose to study political participation in Colorado counties because both the
census poverty data and the elections data were relatively easy to get. My initial hope
was to gather data for individual communities, but this proved to be much more
difficult.15
Colorado had 63 counties in 1998.16 For each county, I studied two decennial
censuses and two elections in order to maximize the number of data points. Some
counties create problems because of low population. Hinsdale County has but 467
inhabitants (according to the 1990 census). Mineral County has only 558 and San
Juan County only 745 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1992). In all, there are 19 Colorado
Counties with less than 5,000 inhabitants. However, the problem is obviously much
worse using only "communities" as a study group, since over a third of Colorado
communities have less than 1,000 inhabitants.
15 Colorado election returns are kept by county at the Secretary of State's Office. Election results by
precinct are kept by County Clerks in the individual counties.
16 Under the Colorado State Constitution, the boundaries of all counties are fixed, and may only be
changed by a statewide referendum. The city of Broomfield, spanning Jefferson, Adams and Boulder
Counties petitioned to become an autonomous county and the measure passed in November of 1998
adding a county in 1999.
44


In order to determine political participation, I chose ballots cast divided by
voting age population (VAP). Using voting age population rather than registered
voters eliminates the process of self-selection, however it complicates the equation a
bit by including resident aliens, military personnel choosing to vote in their state of
residents via absentee ballot and incarcerated persons.
I chose ballots cast for the Presidential Elections in 1980 and 1992, because
these elections are close to the census. Readers should be aware that there is a
significant problem with voter "drop off'; that is, voters vote for high profile races
and quit voting at some point along the ballot. Rodney Hero (1997) does an excellent
job of exploring the problem voter drop off in Latino/a communities in Colorado.
This interesting and important problem, however, must be left for another paper.
Absolute poverty, defined as the official poverty line, is available from a
number of sources, including the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. I use numbers from the Census Bureau collected at
the 1970, 1980 and 1990 censuses.
Relative poverty is a bit more problematic. Income distributions were not
reported in 1970 and were reported differently in 1990 and 1980. There is, for this
reason, some small difference in relative poverty from 1980 to 1990, as I will explain
later, but the difference should not be enough to reduce confidence in the findings.
45


The qualitative aspects of relative poverty must be set aside. While at some
point it may be possible to bring the expertise together to study income inequality in
Colorado, it may be more useful and effective to study a single geographic area, such
as the Denver metropolitan area. An adequate qualitative study of relative poverty in
Colorado, taking into account the precise community boundaries and characteristics,
would require extensive knowledge of all areas of the state and such extensive
analysis seems unjustified given the generally weak nature of the relationship
between relative poverty and political participation.
For 1990, income distributions are given for numbers of persons reporting
income within relatively small ranges. To determine the percentage of people in
relative poverty I multiplied the median income by .4. This provides an income level
below which one is considered relatively poor. In effect, this is the bottom 20% of
incomes; because the median is the middle and 40% (or .4) of that number should be
the approximate bottom quintile. The number of persons reporting income within or
below the income range containing the result is divided by the total number of
persons reporting income. The result is the approximate percentage of people in
relative poverty. This is an approximation, but one which should be adequate for my
uses. 17
171 also gathered election and absolute poverty figures for the 1972 election and 1970 census. Alas,
income distributions for this time were not available, preventing me from developing a relative poverty
figure.
46


For 1980, the income distributions were much wider and were reported as
percentages of people earning incomes within that range. For purposes of
determining a relative poverty rate, this raw data required more precision than the
smaller ranges in 1990. I again multiplied the median income by .4. This result again
provided the threshold beneath which one would be considered in relative poverty.
Because the ranges were wider, I rejected rounding the threshold up. Instead,
I included a share of the range based upon where the threshold fell within it. For
example, if the threshold were $5,000, it would fall within the "Less than $10,000"
range, where 14% of the people fell. In this case, $5,000 is 50% of $10,000, which
means that 7% of the people were considered to be in relative poverty.
In any case, the 1980 relative poverty number is not entirely accurate and not
directly comparable to 1990 figures. Nevertheless, they are useful and the best that
can be accomplished without going back to raw Census Bureau data, which is
protected information; its use requires special permission from the Bureau of the
Census in order to protect the privacy of individuals completing the census.
The mechanics of the relative poverty figures is a bit opaque, but as we will
see later, the outcome is not significant in this research. The figures for both years
fall into similar ranges and we do not see wide differences in any county. Essentially,
very similar numbers are being used, but different data-smoothing measures are being
taken.
47


One question that I considered carefully was the use of median income rather
than mean income to determine the threshold. I chose median because it was easier to
find the data, though solid arguments could be made for using mean income (which is
almost always higher than median income). If anything, by choosing median income
I have understated relative poverty.
This brings me to the findings of this researchthe nature of the relationship
between political participation and relative poverty (see Figure 2). Surprisingly, on a
county level, the data showed virtually no correlation between relative poverty and
political participation. In other words, counties that have high relative poverty rates
generally did not vote less (or more) than other counties. Different conclusions can
be reached with regard to the reasons for this relationship and I will explore some of
the possibilities a little later.
This finding must be considered a major setback for my hypothesis and would
almost certainly be the end of the investigation, but I was also surprised to find little
correlation between voting and absolute poverty as well (see Figure 3). As stated
earlier, income and political participation is a well-recognized relationship. Since
absolute poverty is a function of income, we can safely assume that counties with
high absolute poverty should have significantly lower voter turnout. This is
obviously not the case in Colorado, however.
Furthermore, even traditional variables such as education and household
income do not correlate with turnout very closely among Colorado Counties.
48


According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census data, counties with high rates of college
graduate residency are barely more likely to turn out to vote than counties with less
college graduates (see Figure 4). Education is generally held to be a very strong
predictor of political participation behavior (Abramson & Claggett, 1989; Bennett &
Klecka, 1970; Miller, 1998; Nie, Verba & Petrocik, 1976; Verba, Lehman,
Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994). Household
income, another widely held predictor of political participation (Nie, Verba &
Petrocik, 1976; Verba, Lehman, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993), does not correlate
well either (see Figure 5). The weakness of these relationships in Colorado counties
is curious and requires an examination into possible explanations.
However, if we look at the relationship between turnout in the 1996 general
election in Denver alone, using City Council Districts rather than counties, we can see
a rather strong relationship (see Figure 6.) The low number of council districts
elevensuggests a low degree of confidence in this data. Further study focusing on
urban data in Colorado (particularly the Denver metropolitan area) is an obvious next
step in this research. Perhaps an effect can be seen in urban areas alone which is
unobservable statewide.
The first question that must be asked revolves around whether the thesis is
fundamentally flawed. Is poverty, relative or absolute, relevant in the study of
political participation? Evidence presented here suggests that in Colorado, at least,
poverty is not a very important factor in determining political participation.
49


However, the high degree of deviation in the statistics points to another result: in
some places poverty does have an influence, in other places it does not. This is not
necessarily a problem for this research. Indeed, it is a very important discovery.
While poverty may influence political participation, it does not do so necessarily. It
is this high degree of deviation that requires us to examine other factors that influence
high degrees of participation in Colorado in areas with high levels of poverty.
It is important to remember that voter turnout rates across Colorado are high
as compared to voter turnout nationally, with 66% of the voting age population
casting ballots in 1992. Nationwide, this rate is approximately 55% (AVC, 1999).
This above-average rate indicates a high degree of political motivation and strong
feelings of political efficacy in Colorado in virtually all areas of the state.
Certainly, there seems be a methodological problem in using data from
counties. Again, counties may be too large or too small a community to influence
feelings of relative deprivation. Counties are chosen because the information is
readily available and uniform. Whether relative poverty thresholds are calculated on
a community, county or regional level, while we might expect the relative poverty
rate to be more or less pronounced, it really should have little effect on the
relationship with political participation. The lack of a positive or negative correlation
(both with relative poverty and absolute poverty) makes it seem unlikely that such
manipulation will yield different results.
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One important explanation for low correlation and high deviation of the
turnout figures is the drastic deviation of a number of counties from expected results.
A primary goal of this research is to identify areas that drastically deviate from
expectations and qualitatively study them for explanations).
There are four counties that drastically deviate from expected results. Despite
poverty (in many cases both relative and absolute), low educational attainment and
high numbers of non-white population, these counties turn out fairly well. Conejos,
Costilla, Huerfano and Saguache Counties are all poor (in terms of both relative and
absolute poverty), yet political participation in each was well above average:
Table 6.1
County Absolute Poverty Rate Relative Poverty Rate Turnout18
Conejos 33.9 32.5 75.4
Costilla 34.6 34.9 79.5
Heurfano 25.7 30.3 70.1
Saguache 30.6 28.8 71.4
State Average 11.7 21.0 66.0
Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993,1994
There are two powerful reasons for this high voting turnout. First, a unique
mix of political subcultures, as explained by Thomas Cronin and Robert Loevy
51


(1993) may be an important reason why participation fails to correlate with poverty.
Cronin and Loevy (1993) use Daniel Elazar's theory of American political subculture
to explain conflict in Colorado politics. Usually, these tensions are between the
moralist (essentially liberal) and the individualist (essentially conservative), with the
individualist subculture dominant (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). According to Cronin and
Loevy (1993), Elazar's third type of political subculture, which Elazar calls
"traditionalist," manifests itself in Latino/a political culture in Southern Colorado,
although this characterization is certainly oversimplified.
While Cronin and Loevy (1993) do not discuss voter turnout as it relates to
political culture, they bring up a couple of interesting points. The first point is the
real and lasting tension between individualist and moralist political cultures (Cronin
& Loevy, 1993).18 19 Since Democrats are more likely to be "moralist" than
Republicans (Cronin & Loevy, 1993), this conflict is likely to promote elections
between candidates with real differences in their stands on important issues.20 Since
the candidates are likely to hold differing political views, elections (especially
18 Again, this is ballots cast divided by voting age population.
19 The use of these terms ("moralist" and "individualist") creates some problems. Clearly, I am
oversimplifying by labeling "moralist" as liberal and "individualist" as conservative. For a better
analysis of these terms, see Cronin and Loevy.
20 This is from the Colorado Citizens Poll, conducted by Talmey-Drake, a polling firm, in 1990. In this
poll, citizens were asked which of the following statements they agreed with most: 1) "Each individual
should take care of him- or herself." (Individualist, according to Cronin and Loevy) 2) "Government
should work to make people's lives-and community life-better." (Moralist, again according to Cronin
and Loevy) Seventy five percent of Republicans chose number 1, compared to 50% of Democrats.
Twenty percent of Republicans chose number 2, compared to 45% of Democrats.
52


statewide elections) have more at stake in Colorado than elsewhere in the U.S. and
presumably provide more of an incentive to vote (Cronin & Loevy, 1993).
The problem with this line of reasoning is that like most single member
district voting arrangements, districts tend to be non-competitive. Therefore,
regardless of whether the differences between the candidates are significant or not,
the outcome of the election is likely to be predetermined and unlikely to motivate
votersin fact, one would expect voters from the losing party to become alienated
from the process as a result. It seems logical to assume that being represented by a
radical representative of a different party with little or no chance of defeating that
representative would tend to isolate one from the political process. Only one of
Colorado's congressional seats could be considered competitive (the Second,
comprised mostly of Boulder County), and that has only recently become
competitive.
In cases where radically opposed candidates in competitive districts meet it is
natural to assume that turnout would be high, but this cannot be the case in more than
a handful of districts across the state. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that state
legislative races, even the most competitive ones, really drive turnout this much
Cronin and Loevy fail to make a case that parties in Colorado are significantly
different than those elsewhere in the U.S. or that radically opposed parties have a
major impact on voter motivation.
53


A second interesting suggestion from Cronin and Loevy (1993) is the unique
nature of the political subculture of the San Luis valleythe traditionalist. The
traditionalist political culture (as it relates to Colorado) is characterized by: "the idea
that the dominant role in society and government should be played by a limited
number of socially prominent families with large landed estates" (Cronin & Loevy,
1993, pg. 25). The traditionalist view also emphasized preservation of the status quo
(Cronin & Loevy, 1993). Unlike the moralist and individualist subcultures, Cronin
and Loevy (1993) relate the traditionalist view to Latino/a communities,21 thus giving
the traditionalist political subculture a geographic dimensionacross the southern-
central section of the state.
Since traditionalist political culture, from a national perspective, generally is
responsible for driving voter turnout down, the only conclusion we can draw from
Cronin and Loevy's observation is that if there is a traditional political culture in
South-Central Colorado, that for some reason the nature of the relationship between
the elite and the followers in the San Luis Valley is different than across the Southern
United States, where traditionalist political culture is generally found.
This raises the question of political leadership and organization. Whereas in
the Southern U.S. it is in the interest of the elite that the lowest classes not vote, in the
21 Again, I find Cronin and Loevy's characterizations of Colorado political subculture stretching
Elazar's categories to the utmost. Furthermore, they do not rely on empirical evidence to back their
characterizations, but rather on historical argumentation that borders on crude stereotyping. Perhaps
Elazar's model was never meant to be extended to areas with substantial Latino/a populations.
54


San Luis Valley the opposite may be true. South-Central Colorado counties are
overwhelmingly Democratic (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). Since they are small in
population, Democratic leaders could attempt to maximize their statewide clout by
turning voters out in large numbers. Leadership and party organization may have
taken advantage of the traditional political culture in this heavily Latino/a area to
raise political participation rates to their advantage. While counterintuitive, it appears
to be the only explanation for high turnout rates if one accepts Cronin and Loevy's
contention that the San Luis Valley is home to a traditionalist political culture.
Leadership would be more of a factor in a traditionalist political culture than in more
individualistic ones and I believe that leadership plays a significant role in raising
turnout in these areas.
How much is culture responsible for the extraordinary political participation
rates in the four counties listed above? There appears to be more than coincidence.
There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that leadership may also play a role in
voter turnout (elitism is a characteristic of traditionalist political culture according to
Cronin and Loevy). Several people interviewed suggested that political culture and
leadership are important factors in these counties. Huerfano County Clerk Judy
Benine emphasized that: "People here are very good about doing their duty and that's
the way they see it (voting), as their duty." Socialization, community connection and
tradition appear to have a much more powerful affect on political behavior in these
counties than co-determinants such as educational attainment and income.
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Again, traditionalist political culture is generally associated with low turnout,
but it is usually associated with areas (the American South) where the elite seek to
suppress and reduce turnout, rather than promote it (as is in the case of south-central
Colorado). In any case, Cronin and Loevy identify these counties as the core of the
traditionalist political culture in Colorado. These counties defy the expectations of
the traditionalist political culture by leading the state in turnout (in the context of their
economic condition).
It is my contention (backed up through interviews with officials in these
counties and personal political experience) that leadership provides a major reason for
increased turnout. While Judy Benine (Huerfano County Clerk) dismissed activism
as a major cause of high turnout, both Andrew Perea (Conejos County Clerk) and
Marlene Pruitt (Saguache County Clerk) suggested that active leadership was a major
cause of high participation rates. Both suggested that while local political culture
stresses voting as important (strong efficacy) and as a civic duty (positive
socialization), political leadership played a major role in increasing voter turnout.
Mr. Perea also discussed the convenience of voting and strongly contested
local races that fuel interest even in by-elections. It is unlikely that it is more
convenient to vote in Conejos County than elsewhere in the state and I didn't look at
data from local races. Ms. Pruitt, however, was very sure that Democratic activists
were responsible for strong early absentee ballot voting (as of 10/27/98 she had 650
56


absentee ballots cast for the 11/3/98 electionin a county with 3150 potential voting
age people!)
Mike Lujan, Democratic County Chairman for Conejos County, agreed that
socialization may play a role in high participation, but said that people "vote on the
issues, and you need to get information to them on the issues." This, he believed, was
best done through a core of dedicated activists. He has worked, in the weeks leading
up to the 1998 election, to put together a group of activists to raise turnout (without
the assistance of the state party). It is only through the efforts of these leaders, he
suggested, that turnout will stay high.
Leadership has a powerful influence on political participation, combined with
political culture as a lesser factor. The strong showing of these four counties shows
that disadvantages of low educational attainment and income can be overcome. I
agree with Miller's (1998) suggestion that voting and social ties may have a dynamic,
mutually influential relationship. This is clearly what we see happening in these four
counties. It makes little difference whether turnout is strong because people have a
connection to the institutions there or because party activism is driving participation.
To some degree both are present and are probably interrelated.
Even if, as Judy Benine (Huerfano County Clerk) suggests, people here are
voting because it is their duty (they are socialized to do so), activism may be
necessary to reinforce this behavior and for initiating such behavior. Other counties,
such as Alamosa, Las Animas, Otero and Rio Grande are statistically very similar to
57


Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano and Saguacheexcept in turnout. It appears there is
more at work than socialization.
Contrary to the above counties, and traditional theories of political
participation, we see in Colorado a number of counties where participation is poor,
despite the presence of strong co-determinants. Adams, Arapahoe, Eagle and El Paso
Counties all participate somewhat less than would be expected for the wealth and
educational attainment.
These counties are more complex to analyze than the four high-tumout
counties. They are not within the same geographic area (though three of the four are
in the Denver/Front Range area.) These counties may actually be near or slightly
above average turnout for the state, but they deviate somewhat from expected results.
That is, these counties may be average in terms of turnout, but fall far short of where
turnout should be for counties with such low poverty rates or they may have average
poverty and have low turnout. In any case they deviate from the expected norm for
voter turnout.
All of these counties have a common denominator: growth. These counties
are among the fastest growing in the state. Between 1970 and 1990, Adams County
grew by 77%, Arapahoe grew by 187%, Eagle County by 253% and El Paso County
by 88%. With the exception of Eagle County, this represents very large numbers of
people. Between 1970 and 1990, Adams, Arapahoe and El Paso counties grew by
58


over 400,000 voting age people (combined) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993 &
1984.)
Growth is a serious issue in Colorado, because of the environmental and
infrastructural problems it causes. Perhaps the political ramifications should not be
ignored; just as streets, sewers and water lines must be built in new neighborhoods, so
also must political institutions and connections. County organizations are often too
slow to recognize the leadership opportunities and needs in new subdivisions and
rapidly growing towns. High growth communities probably have fewer social
institutions to reinforce positive voting behavior and new residents of these areas are
less likely to feel connected to these local institutions and culture. There may be a
selective mobilization going on as well. In some counties there may be a conscious
decision not to attempt to mobilize new or traditionally hostile populations. County
party operatives often have more to lose than to gain by organizing potential primary
opponents or even unpredictable voters.
On the other hand some growth counties do turn out very well. Boulder
County has grown 97% since 1970, Jefferson County 126%, Douglas County 785%
and Summit County 502%. Yet these counties sustain political participation of 75%
(Boulder County), 70% (Jefferson County), 97% (Douglas County) and 83% (Summit
County). Overall, there is virtually no correlation between growth and turnout and
what little there is can possibly be explained by the three-year lapse between finalized
census data in 1989 and the 1992 election returns. There may be some evidence that
59


growth does create political tensions in Colorado (Miller, 1999). Obviously, the
effect of growth on political participation needs further exploration.
Additionally, it is worth noting that all the counties with high poverty and
strong turnout are not significantly globalized, all the high growth counties are
arguably very globalized.
Finally, in an unexpected result of this research, there were two counties
(Hinsdale and Mineral) that stood out because voter turnout far exceeded 100% of
voting age population. This discrepancy obviously raised questions. Through an
interview with Hinsdale County Clerk Linda Ragle, I learned that there are a number
of property owners who, though they don't live in the county, vote by absentee ballot.
This process is almost certainly much more widespread than in just these two
counties, and may inflate voter turnout in counties where second home ownership is
prevalent. This issue is important, but tangential to this research.
Both in cases of excellent turnout and poor turnout, certain Colorado counties
represent extreme cases and help highlight reasons why the relationships between
education, absolute and relative poverty and political participation are weak. 22
22 See Appendix A for more details.
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CHAPTER 7
CONCLUSION
As Dirk Johnson says, in the economically robust 90's, the sting of scarcity is
rubbed with a little extra salt. That salt is relative poverty. It is not necessarily about
those we traditionally think of as poor; it is about those who are becoming
disenfranchised by a political system that is too heavily intertwined within the
economic system.
The new global economy changes the power relationships between the
working and capital classes. This should raise the incidence of relative poverty,
particularly in the most advanced post-industrial economies.
The best lesson I received in capitalism took place on my tour as I
passed through Centralia, Illinois. Centralia is the home of the Pay Day
candy bar. They've been making Pay Days there for over sixty years.
Last year their factory turned in a $29 million profit. The day I arrived
was their last payday. The plant manager told me that the giant food
conglomerate that owns Pay Day had only bought the company so that it
could make it look profitable and then sell it. Had Pay Day made double
the profit it would have been sold sooner, he said. I asked him, What if
the workers had produced an inferior candy bar and thus made a smaller
profit? He said that the factory would still be in business and would have
stayed open until the candy bar made the necessary profit. That bit of
lunacy spoke volumes about the priorities of business in America these
days. (Moore, 1997)
The new balance of power between labor and capital in the global age
imprints itself on the power structure of our democracy. The rules governing the
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capital markets ensure (enforce, even) that capital enriches itself at the expense of
working people. More conservative theorists will suggest that this economic game is
not zero-sum, as I assume here. The Pay Day workers in Centralia probably feel
differently.
Rousseau's contention that human inequality stems from property ownership
is compelling. The more wealth we have to own, the farther we get from our
"savage" state (as Rousseau calls it), the greater the level of inequality. The new
global economy may be the next, more powerful manifestation of this. How much
inequality is sustainable? Rousseau did not even ponder an answer to this question.
No doubt, he could not have envisioned the level of inequality we see today. Perhaps,
as long as working people get some part of the increasingly large pie, it is indefinitely
sustainable. However, history says that when the pie stops growingand it always
stops growing at some pointeconomic inequality is not sustainable.
If society is to remain stable, I believe that there must be some control of the
widening class gap. A political system that serves only to protect the interests of the
wealthiest classes and the perpetuation of their wealth at the expense of the working
people cannot indefinitely sustain legitimacy.
When our democratic system ceases to work for a sector of society, we should
expect it to lose its legitimacy with that sector. Without question, the system has
ceased to work for the absolutely poor. Government has demonized them as the
problem, rather than the victims of a system that inevitably produces poverty as a
62


byproduct. Wacquant even makes a strong case that the government has criminalized
the consequences of being poor:
Instead of instituting comprehensive schooling and job training
measures, the state has responded to the rise in social disorientation and
crime that has come along with the increased marginalization of ghetto
youth with a de facto penal policy, i.e., by stepping up incarceration
(Wacquant, 1995, pg. 430).
More to the point here, however, is the question of whether the system has
ceased to work for the relatively poor or whether the relatively poor perceive this as
the case. If so, should we expect a growing sense of political isolation manifested
through declining voter turnout?
The influence of relative and absolute poverty on voter turnout is clearly less
influential than expected by this author. I have presented a number of reasons why
this is the case, including a number of anomalous counties, local political culture,
growth and effective political leadership. None of these explanations is adequate in
explaining why not only relative poverty, but also other, traditionally accepted, voter
turnout variables do not correlate with voting in Colorado counties (e.g. education
and household income).
I feel it is important to show the flaws and limitations of the absolute poverty
measure--the poverty linein order to show that the use of an alternative measure, in
this case relative poverty, might be useful. The poverty line is the predominant
measure of class in academe and in policy formulation, a role I have no illusions
about diminishing. However, I believe I make several important points about this
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statistic. The "poverty line" is rather anachronistic in that the conditions under which
it was developed bear little resemblance to those today and fails to account for
differences in cost of living. The application of the Engle's Coefficient obfuscates
new economic realities, e.g. housing and transportation costs have escalated much
faster than food and consequently make up much more of a family's budget than they
did when the Engle's Coefficient was first applied over 50 years ago.
This is not to say that the measure is not without its usesit obviously is very
important to establish a baseline subsistence level for families. However, I hope that
this paper has made a case that absolute poverty is not the only measure that can be
legitimately be used in the study of poverty.
The hypothesis behind this research failed to be proven. In hindsight, I would
suggest that a great deal of the blame for this failure might lie in a weak research
design. It was a good learning experience and revealed a few interesting results and,
I believe, a number of ways to improve the design when new data becomes available
following the millennial census:
1. It would be useful to confine the research to the Denver metropolitan area.
Denver is the most significant globalized sector of the Colorado economy
and it makes little sense to include areas like Mineral and Huerfano
Counties in a study of the global economy's impact on voting behavior.
2. Calculation of the relative poverty threshold should be taken over the
entire Denver metropolitan area as a single unit and not calculated
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individually by county. It is difficult to justify the extra complication of
applying a formula to each county.
3. The basic formula needs to be re-configured to be able to control for
potentially confounding variables such as age and race.
4. Ultimately, a thorough study would require a multiple regression analysis
to isolate causal factors of voter turnout in Colorado.23
The results of this examination have suggested that the theory behind relative
poverty needs to be carefully considered. Simply abstracting relative poverty into
units as artificial as a county is clearly problematic. The theoretical question that
must be re-examined is at what geographic level people perceive their economic
community. In the Denver metropolitan area, the perception of how one's position is
relative is much more likely to be formed by a wider picture than simply their county.
My experience here shows me that this theoretical question is central to the
problem of showing the political effects of relative poverty. Abstracting the spatial
dimension of relative poverty by arbitrarily using an artificial geographic boundary
the countywas a gross oversimplification. No doubt, great thought must be given to
defining the "economic community" one uses in calculating relative poverty.
23 Preliminary investigations show that neither absolute nor relative poverty have much of an
relationship with voter turnout. Only non-white population is a significant variable on turnout, and
then only when divided into counties where non-white population is greater than and less than about
35%. In counties where non-white population is less than 35%, turnout is lower as non-white
population gets higher. In counties where non-white population is greater than 35%, the greater the
non-white population, the higher the turnout.
65


Application should be purposive and understood in some depth. Some degree of
abstraction is inevitable, as different perceptions of relative economic position differ
between individuals. Purposive and specifically applied geographic boundaries will
no doubt produce more satisfactory results. This probably precludes analysis on a
statewide level, but may produce more telling results on local areas of specific
interest (such as the Denver metropolitan area).
However, there are perceptible results from the findings. For example, the
excellent turnout in high poverty areas defies conventional wisdom. The influence of
race on formal political participation exhibits characteristics in Colorado that raise
interesting questions as well. Above-average turnout in counties densely populated
with non-white population, increasing from counties with a non-white population of
35% contradicts the established writings on the subject of political participation.
One explanation of turnout that exceeds expectations is political leadership.
My personal experience tells me that political leadership has demonstrable effects on
voter turnout. Political campaigns concentrate on turning out voters in strategic areas.
By contacting voters, providing them with information and providing reminders on
election day, a well organized campaign can increase voter turnout in certain
geographical districts enough to sway the results of the election.
Particularly in areas where numbers provide an opportunity to be successful,
Latino/a voters apparently develop leadership that seizes upon the opportunity.
66


Colorado counties that have higher non-white populations24 exhibit lower tumout-
until the non-white population reaches over 35%. At this point, counties begin to
show higher turnout for higher non-white population (see Figure 8.) This might
suggest that when minority populations see an opportunity for electoral success,
leaders organize their constituency to take advantage of the opportunity. More study
clearly needs to be done, however, to substantiate such a possibility.
If Reich, et al., are correct, we should expect to see relative poverty on the
rise, particularly in urban areas and areas particularly influenced by the rise of the
global/post-industrial economy. In Colorado between 1980-1990, relative poverty
did not rise significantly in Colorado counties. By the 2000 Census we may see this
changing. In any case, it seems that as of 1992 in Colorado there is little reason to
believe that relative or absolute poverty is resulting in political isolationso far.
People in the most highly stratified counties seem to be, in many cases, just as apt to
formally participate in the system as those in more equitable counties.
It is clear from these results that either: 1) relative poverty has little effect on
political behavior in Colorado or 2) research on relative poverty must be based on
carefully conceived theory and methodology. The effects of relative poverty on voter
24 Statistically, "non-white" in Colorado means Latino/a. Denver is the exception, with the non-white
populations being comprised of African American, Latino/a and Native American populations.
Outside the metropolitan area, however, the non-white population is Latino/a with only a small
percentage of Native Americans (See Figure 7).
67


turnout are intertwined with many other variables and the power of the relative
poverty-voter turnout relationship is not strong.
The cause of this weak relationship could be quite deep. Perhaps the effects
of the global/post-industrial economy are not even perceptible, or are easily
displaced, for example on foreign competition, minority populations or a small cabal
of elites manipulating the country.25
It's a message echoed in much of society, from the zealous
celebration of the stock market's rise (which benefits only the country's
richest 10 percent) to what President Clinton brags is "the longest
peacetime economic expansion in our history...and the lowest peacetime
unemployment since 1957." Never mind the slowly but steadily growing
gap between rich and poor and a minimum wage that, to have its 1968
purchasing power, would need to be at least $7.45 per hour, instead of the
current $5.15. A Gallup Poll reports that 78 percent of us are satisfied
with our standard of living; 84 percent with the opportunities we have had
to succeed. The message to any dissenter seems pretty clear: Times are
good-what are you complaining about? (Wolter, 1999).
There seems to be little enough dissent, whether this is the result of effective
suppression of potential dissent, as Waquant or Gurr might argue, some sort of
national ennui, or general contentment is difficult to say. Clearly, there is some
dissent, including violent dissent, in America today. But isolation of voters from
what is perceived as a system designed for the advantage of the wealthy has (directly
25 According to pollster Paul Talmey, quoted in Cronin & Loevy, in 1992 69% of Coloradans agree
with the following statement: "Even though you almost never hear about them, there are a few really
powerful people in the country who pretty much make all the important decisions about how the
country is run."
68


or indirectly) lead to the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, an
alarming growth in hate movements and arson on Vail Mountain.
Decline in economic democracy, that is, the value of relative social equality
has led to a rising perception that political democracy is on the decline as well. Not
from all, but clearly that is the perception some people have developed~and one that
some politicians are openly courting.
This first step towards the use of relative poverty as an influence on political
behavior has been instructive for this author. For one thing, the results defied
expectations and the conventional wisdom of other, more distinguished authors on the
subject of political participation. Furthermore, I have found that relative poverty
presents a theoretical and methodological enigma far more complex than I first
perceived when developing the idea for this research project. My future work on this
problem will be far less ambitious and confined to a more concise geographical area.
In a great number of ways, this project has raised a great many more questions than it
has answered (if indeed it has answered any). Rather than a thesis that caps off an
academic career, in many ways this one has become a first step.
69


APPENDIX A
"SECOND HOME" VOTERS INFLUENCE TURNOUT
A couple of counties, notably Mineral and Hinsdale, exhibit a very curious
electoral characteristic. Voter turnout in these counties is over (in Hinsdale County's
case well over) 100% of the total voting age population. In 1992, the number of
ballots cast in Hinsdale County was 127% of the number of voting age people in the
county!
Is this a case of vote fraud of massive proportions? Not exactly. For one
thing, these are very small, mountain counties. The population of Hinsdale County in
1990 was a scant 467 people. Mineral was counted at only 558. It does not take a
great deal of "extra" voters to inflate percentages. It is important to realize that while
the 1992 election was two years following the census, neither of these counties grew
sufficiently to suggest that natural growth is responsible for the "extra" voters.
I spoke with Linda Ragle, County Clerk for Hinsdale County and she
immediately said she had noted the same thing. She admitted that the number of
registered voters is much higher (780 registered voters in 1998) than the population of
the county, but suggested that a large number of people who have summer residences
in Hinsdale County register and vote by absentee ballotespecially Texans. These
voters believe they have the right to vote because they own property within the
70


county. This is, of course, not legally the case. Ms. Ragle said that her office lacked
resources to check if these voters were also registered at their primary address, even if
this were possible. In fact, it is not relevant, because Colorado law requires six
months of residency as a qualification for votinga requirement that is obviously
loosely applied.
Voting by absentee ballot in a different state than one resides is, of course,
rational. These voters hope to hold down property taxes, which they pay, but from
which do not see relative benefit. Clearly, however, if these voters are voting in
another election district, voting by absentee ballot in Hinsdale County is illegal and
immoral (Lockean property-rights arguments aside).
I suggest that with today's technology, it would be relatively simple for the
Secretary of State's Office to discover if Hinsdale County voters are registered and
voting in another election district. Legislation should be enacted which requires more
vigilance for absentee ballots that are mailed out of state. I further would argue that
persons caught violating Colorado requirements should be vigorously prosecuted for
vote fraud.
Such voters undoubtedly decide issues that affect Hinsdale County voters and
while it perhaps places an undue burden on the Hinsdale County Clerk to attempt to
discover such vote fraud, likely there would be more vigilance if these votes worked
to the partisan disadvantage of the Clerk. I discovered this anomaly by using a rather
unconventional measure applied to a rather small county where the effects are simple
71


to see, but in all probability this type of vote inflation is common in other, larger
counties as well.
While a bit tangential to this research, this problem does help explain why,
especially in the mountainous areas of the state (where second home ownership is
probably most common), voter turnout may be artificially inflated.
It also is very important for activists in such counties to understand that voters
from outside their county may influence local politics. I strongly suggest that
progressive activists work with their county clerks and the Colorado Secretary of
State to discover any voters who take advantage of the system to cast a second ballot.
72


APPENDIX B
MAP OF COLORADO COUNTIES


APPENDIX C
GRAPHS
Figure 1.
75.000
50.000
25.000
real annua! income of
poor, middle class, and
rich households,
19@ dollars,
1967*96
richest 5%
- HUB 5-96 1989-31
^0:7% poor -3 2?
erriictdle +2.6%1 middle-3.C m

.rich + mm
middle 20%
poorest 20%
J____I____I___I____I___I___I____I___I____I___I____I___I____I___I___I____I___I____L.
-I____I___I____I
1967 1971 1975 1979 1983 1987 1991
1995
From Doug Henwood, The Left Business Observer,
http://www.panix.com/~dhenwood/Stats_incpov.html
74


Relative Poverty Rate
Figure 2.
Turnout vs. Relative Poverty
Turnout
1990 1980 Linear (1990) Linear (1980)
75


Poverty
Figure 3.
Turnout vs. Absolute Poverty
Turnout
1990 1980 1970 Linear (1990) - Linear (1980) Linear (1970)
76


Education Attainment
Figure 4.
Turnout and Education
Turnout
HS Grad, 1980 College Grad, 1980 A HS Grad, 1990
M College Grad, 1990 Unear (HS Grad, 1980) Linear (College Grad, 1990) Unear (College Grad, 1980)

78


Turnout
Figure 5.
Turnout vs. Household Income
Turnout 1992 Linear (Turnout 1992)
79


Figure 6.
Turnout 1996 General
Denver City Council Districts
Turnout
Poverty Black Latino/a
Linear (Poverty) - " Linear (Black)
80


Figure 7
Non-White Population
Colorado Counties A-K
0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0%
81


Figure 7.
Non-White Population
Colorado Counties L-Y
0.0%
5.0%
10.0%
15.0%
20.0%
25.0%
30.0%
La Plata
Lake
Larimer
Las Animas
Lincoln
Logan
Mesa
Mineral
Moffat
Montezuma
Montrose
Morgan
Otero
Ouray
Park
Phillips
Pitkin
Prowers
Pueblo
Rio Blanco
Rio Grande
Routt
Saguache
San Juan
San Miguel
Sedgwick
Summit
Teller
Washington
Weld
Yuma


i?W^







Z. yN l y^X

'









V$Siltf:ST
8iljW^ifiiigi8l^ittlffi










35.0%
82


Turnout
Figure 8.
Turnout 1992
140.0%
130.0%
120.0%
110.0%
100.0%
90.0%
80.0%
70.0%
60.0%
50.0%
40.0%





l *
* *
'~4T~ 4


0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0%
Non-White Population
83


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Number 1 (February, 1994), pp. 211-229
Wilson, William J.; "Another Look at the Truly Disadvantaged;" Political Science
Quarterly, Volume 106, Number 4 (Winter 1991-1992); pp. 639-656
Wilson, William J.; "Studying Inner-City Social Dislocations: The Challenge of
Public Agenda Research;" American Sociological Review, Volume 56, Number
1 (February, 1991), pp. 1-14
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RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE POVERTY IN COLORADO: EFFECTS ON POLITICAL PARTICIPATION by Tim Hundsdorfer B.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 1988 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science 1999

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Tim Hundsdorfer has been approved by Glenn Morris ii

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Hundsdorfer, Timothy D. (M.A., Political Science) Relative and Absolute Poverty In Colorado: Effects on Political Participation Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Tony Robinson ABSTRACT Relative poverty is a well-studied sociological phenomenon. Unlike absolute poverty, which involves the inability to meet the needs of one's self and one's family; relative poverty involves a comparison of socioeconomic status. There are fundamental differences in the political philosophy behind each measure of poverty. With globalization and de-industrialization of our nation's economy, many scholars had already demonstrated how the disparity between socioeconomic classes is rising, increasing relative poverty. Colorado's economy is quite advanced, in a global/post-industrial sense. This paper examines the political effects of this new political economy in our state, with particular attention to the possible effects of increasing relative poverty. The effects of social stratification generally manifest themselves in declining support for social institutions in poor and low-income areas. These institutions are considered by many scholars to be very important for disseminating political information and encouraging forms of formal political participation such as voting. Voter turnout generally correlates negatively with poverty and positively with income: areas of high poverty should have lower voter turnout. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that in an advanced and socially stratified post-industrial political economy we would expect to see voter turnout on the decline, particularly in high poverty counties. However, in Colorado counties, there appears to be little correlation between relative or absolute poverty and political participation. iii

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Reasons for this unforeseen phenomenon appear to be a combination of rapid growth, political culture and political leadership, all of which have different effects in different counties across the state. Lack of a relationship between the variables of poverty and participation emphasize the importance of careful attention to the research design. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. iv

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CONTENTS List of Figures ................................................................................................. vi. List of Tables .................................................................................................. vii. CHAPTER 1. RELATIVE POVERTY .............................................................................. 1 2. POVERTY LINE AND ABSOLUTE POVERTY ................................... 11 3. GLOBALIZATION/POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY AND THE GROWTH OF RELATIVE POVERTY ................................................... 17 4. COLORADO AS A POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY ......................... 25 5. RELATIVE POVERTY AND ITS POLITICAL EFFECTS .................... 38 6. ANALYSIS ............................................................................................... 44 7. CONCLUSION ......................................................................................... 61 APPENDIX A. "SECOND HOME" VOTERS INFLUENCE TURNOUT ....................... 70 B. MAP OF COLORADO COUNTIES ........................................................ 73 C. GRAPHS ................................................................................................... 74 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................. 84 v

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FIGURES Figure C.l Real Annual Income of Poor, Middle Class and Rich Households .......... 74 C.2 Turnout versus Relative Poverty ............................................................... 75 C.3 Turnout versus Absolute Poverty .............................................................. 76 C.4 Turnout and Education .............................................................................. 77 C.5 Turnout and Household Income ................................................................ 78 C.6 Turnout 1996 General (Denver City Council Districts) ............................ 79 C.7 Non-White Population, Colorado Counties ......................................... 80-81 C.8 Turnout versus NonWhite Population ..................................................... 82 vi

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TABLES Table 4.1 Relative Poverty Rates (Selected Counties), 1980-1990 .......................... 27 4.2 Absolute Poverty Rates (Selected Counties), 1980-1990 ......................... 29 4.3 Voting Age Population (Selected Counties), 1980-1990 .......................... 30 4.4 Absolute and Relative Poverty in High Turnout Counties ........................ 51 vii

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CHAPTER 1 RELATIVE POVERTY It has never been easy to live on the wrong side of the tracks. But in the economically robust 1990s, with sprawling new houses and threecar garages sprouting like cornstalks on the Midwestern prairie, the sting that comes with scarcity gets rubbed with an extra bit of salt (Johnson, 1998). Dirk Johnson tells the story of a 13-year-old girl in Dixon, Illinois. While not living below the poverty line, Wendy Williams' family is among the poorest in town. Unlike students in some urban pockets, isolated from affluence, Wendy receives the same education as a girl from a $300,000 house in the Idle Oaks subdivision. The flip side of that coin is the public spectacle of economic struggle (Johnson, 1998). As opposed to stories like Wendy's, Jonathan Kozol (1988) tells stories of bitter poverty: families desperately seeking shelter for the night; kids playing on toxic playgrounds; schools crumbling apart around students who cannot stay awake in class because of malnutrition. Wendy's story is not the same. Certainly, in many ways her story is not as horrible, but potentially more dangerous. Wendy's story is one of lost potential, marginalization and isolation. A bright girl with a flair for art, writing and numbers, Wendy stays up late most nights, reading books. "The Miracle Worker" was a recent favorite. ... But when a teacher asked her to join an elevated class for algebra, she politely declined. "I get picked on for my clothes and living in a trailer park, said Wendy, who never brings anyone home from school. "I don't want to get picked on for being a nerd, too. . Her mother, who watched three other daughters drop out of school and have 1

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babies as teen-agers, has told Wendy time and again: "Don't lose your self-esteem" (Johnson, 1998}. This paper is an examination of the situation of Wendy and millions of children and adults like her. While able to meet basic needs, the pain of their relative poverty is just as real. Her treatment is an important commentary on class relations in the U.S. and how they are evolving as we move to a post-industrial political economy. Certainly, this is not the first time American political culture has been characterized by polarized socio-economic classes, and the dynamics driving class difference may be cyclical (Piven & Cloward, 1977), but social stratification in hard economic times has historically been a focal point of unrest. This paper will attempt to distinguish whether the change in class dynamics has a political effect--as we would expect given the body of literature which shows an overall lack of political participation among the poor. America treats its working poor much like Wendy's classmates at Ronald Reagan High School treat her. In a consumer society, those who fail to conswne are punished and ostracized (Greider, 1997). Failing to keep up with the rest of the crowd means one is left out. This is just as true in rural Colorado as it is in rural Illinois. The unskilled working impoverished are alternately blamed or simply left behind in the success enjoyed by so many in the 1990's (Braun, 1997; Henwood, 1996; Mann, 1998; Mischel, 1995 & 1997; Reich, 1992). Most Americans believe success is perhaps more accessible today than ever before (Wolter, 1999), but in 2

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reality economic success depends on access to capital (Greider, 1997) and special skills (Reich, 1992), rather than hard work alone. The post-industrial economy makes access to capital and employment skills more important than hard work in the ability to achieve economic success (Reich, 1992 & 1998). There is some question whether work is even a way out of poverty. Work, and willingness to work, has been suggested alternately by conservative Lawrence Mead (1992) and liberal Mickey Kaus (1992) as the primary way to raise people out of poverty. Certainly, the dogma that one can work one's way out of poverty dominates the political debate. While work certainly is responsible for an increase in income, in many cases a substantial enough increase to raise a family out of poverty (Baldwin, 1995), a number of factors intervene to make it unlikely for work alone to raise people out of poverty. Access to affordable housing (England-Joseph, 1992; Fitchen, 1995; Sard & Daskal, 1998; U.S. General Accounting Office, 1993), education and skills (Baldwin, 1995; Books, 1996 & 1997; Cooper, 1968; DeHaan & Gunvalson, 1997; Krantzler & Terman, 1997; National Center for Children in Poverty, 1997); and access to job related benefits such as health insurance (Perreault, et al., 1997; Pollack, 1998) are all important factors in poverty. There are many questions surrounding access to the labor market for the poor, especially for the non-white poor (Deseran, 1992; Duncan, 1992; Dudenhefer, 1993, 1994; Fitchen, 1995, Wacquant, 1995). The individual's role in poverty and how poverty may be overcome is a frequently discussed issue. The 3

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question raised is whether it is possible to work one's way out of poverty (much less to achieve economic success), and, if not, how does this problem affect our society and our democracy? While there is a wide variety of theories of social poverty, two major forms stand out: absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is a threshold of wealth or income beneath which a person, family or community is unable to meet basic human needs (Shaw, 1996; USDHHS, 1998). Relative poverty is a measure of one's socio-economic status in relation to one's neighbors or compatriots (Shaw, 1996). For the purposes of this paper, relative poverty is roughly the bottom quintile of incomes in any given county. That is, households with less than 40% of the median county income are in relative poverty. The percentage of these households as opposed to the total number of households reporting income is the relative poverty rate. The different measures of poverty have drastically different theoretical, psychological and political connotations. The absolute measure of poverty is very important because it is a point below which a person fails to meet basic needs. Politically, those living in absolute poverty live in a dual relationship with society. Most live in dependence on the government, yet have every reason to be isolated from it (Piven & Cloward, 1977). Like a character from Dickens or Hugo, these people are likely to be scratching for survival, rather than seeking a political cure for their predicament. These people are unlikely to have the time to be patient and wait 4

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for political change--they may be more concerned with personal survival than social revolution. Usually, their choices do not revolve around voting or not, much less whom to vote for. The system works against them and provides daily tasks to ensure that the poor have little time to contemplate the social justice of their position (Kozol, 1988; Piven & Cloward, 1977). Jonathan Kozol describes a typical dilemma faced by the poor on a daily basis in Rachel and Her Children: A lawyer in Los Angeles describes a scenario repeated daily in America: A homeless family applies for AFDC. The social worker comes to the decision that the children are endangered by their Jack of shelter. The children are taken away and placed in foster care. The parents are no longer eligible for AFDC now because they don't have children. So the family as a family receives nothing. The children are institutionalized. The family, as such, ceases to exist. (Kozol, 1988) Absolute poverty is a measure used to formulate and test the effectiveness of public policy on the percentage of people in society that cannot meet their most basic needs (and those of their family.) However, absolute poverty, as a political springboard, is used to raise judgmental questions regarding individual responsibility and society's role in protecting children and the indigent. There are times, of course, as in Paris in 1786 and Russia in 1917, when the absolutely poor may become a political force. Piven and Cloward argue that the New Deal was a sort of prophylactic against the socialist machinations of the working classes. In 1990's America, however, we find the impoverished not much of a political threat. It is much more likely that they are politically isolated (Cohen & Dawson, 1993). If the stakes are constantly expanding, the prevailing view holds that it is not the fault of the 5

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wealthy if the poor fail to secure their share they are ultimately responsible for their own position--the opportunity is (allegedly) there. Prevailing American values assert that government's only role may be (depending on one's moral bent) to assure that people have a sort of safety net in hard economic times. Relative poverty, on the other hand, has an entirely different set of theoretical dynamics. Rather than Dickens, Hugo or Orwell, the philosophy here is that of Rousseau, writing in 1753 in his Discourse on Inequality: ... but from the instant one man needed the help of another, and it was found to be useful for one man to have provisions enough for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became necessary, and vast forests were transformed into pleasant fields which had to be watered with the sweat of men, and where slavery and misery were seen to germinate and flourish with the crops (Rousseau, 1984). The political and philosophical use of relative poverty is to provide a measuring stick for tackling the problem of gross inequalities--if indeed one considers it a problem at all. Rousseau's contention that the wealthy succeed at the expense of the poor is patently at odds with traditional American political culture--that of the far horizon and rugged individualist. Yet Americans like to think of themselves as among the most politically egalitarian people and this must be reconciled with the decline in social equality. American public discourse is married to the concept of one person, one vote though in reality economic considerations have been warping this concept since perhaps the very beginning. The right to express one's self in tenns of a 6

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financial campaign contribution conflicts with the goal of political egalitarianism and increased social stratification raises the stakes in this conflicts. Rousseau's contention is that civil society necessarily produces strata of winners and losers. Those that possess the means to produce always and necessarily hold advantage over those whom, either through squandering of resources, reduced aptitude or fate, do not: ... when estates became so multiplied in number and extent as to cover the whole of the land and every estate to border on another one, no estate could be enlarged except at the expense of its neighbour; and the landless supernumeraries, whom weakness or indolence had prevented from acquiring an estate for themselves, became poor without having lost anything, because, while everything around them changed they alone remained unchanged, and so they were obliged to receive their subsistence--or to steal it--from the rich; and out of this situation there was born, according to the different characters of the rich and the poor, either dominion and servitude, or violence and robbery (Rousseau, 1984). Therefore, at some point the division of labor creates a situation in which all members become dependent in varying degrees upon other members. From this dependency arises the "unnatural" condition of social inequality: ... behold man, who was formerly free and independent, diminished as a consequence of a multitude of new wants into subjection, one might say, to the whole of nature and especially to his fellow men, men of whom he has become a slave, in a sense; if he is rich he needs their services; if he is poor he needs their aid; and even a middling condition does not enable him to do without them (Rousseau, 1984). This theme is the heart of Walden, usually considered a founding document of the environmental movement (which indeed it is), Walden is also a statement about 7

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the source of inequality a la Rousseau--dvil society develops inequality necessarily as a result of inflated wants. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau argues that: Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not for want of necessities, but for want of luxuries ... (Thoreau, 1966}. Want of consumer goods, Thoreau argues (a sentiment Rousseau would clearly echo) is a means of entrapping the poor into a system that puts them at a disadvantage. In order to codify and justify their advanced standing, people with wealth create systems of justice--systems that legitimize their own right to more at the expense of others. Relative poverty, then, is a product of the system which is necessarily created by property rights--rights which, according to Rousseau, are unnatural and a construction of civil society. This is the role of relative poverty as I see it--a new and more important way of keeping score in society. I believe that we can see the triumph of individualism over community as the root cause of a number of social ills. Economic domination, coupled with other forms of privilege including gender, race, language and generational, almost certainly leads to political domination. As Dolbeare and Hubbell (1997) put it, can we have political democracy without some semblance of economic democracy? Even if, as is certainly the case, the relatively poor do not find that there is anything unjust about their neighbor's economic success, we would certainly expect American values to reject the idea that economic success should bring political power. Nevertheless, most Americans now believe that money does amplify political 8

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power (Citizens for Campaign Finance Reform, 1998). Even the Supreme Court considers money (or at least the option to spend or contribute it to political causes) as protected political speech guaranteed by the Constitution (Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee et al. v. Federal Election Commission, 1996; Buckley v. Valeo, 1976).1 America is characterized largely by its lack of class-consciousness, 2 but if it were to develop one on a national scale, we would expect to see it first among the relatively poor. The relatively poor live in a position where they are exposed to the largest degree of social stratification. That is, their relative economic position is farther behind their neighbors than people in less stratified communities. In this research, I hope to examine whether this position makes the relatively poor more isolated from political institutions than people in more economically homogeneous communities. Poor people from communities where there are large numbers of relatively poor people may actually have a greater degree of isolation than counties where there are large numbers of poor people, but less relative poverty. By examining the political behavior of Colorado counties relative to levels of absolute and relative poverty, I hope to show that increasing social stratification leads 1 "(b) The First Amendment requires the invalidation of the Act's independent expenditure ceiling, its limitation on a candidate's expenditures from his own personal funds, and its ceilings on overall campaign expenditures, since those provisions place substantial and direct restrictions on the ability of candidates, citizens, and associations to engage in protected political expression, restrictions that the First Amendment cannot tolerate. Pp. 39-59." (Findlaw.com, 1999) 2 With the exception of class critiques articulated by fringe opposition groups. 9

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to political isolation and a decline in voting. I will compare the percentage of the voting age population casting ballots in presidential elections to Colorado counties poverty rate and the percentage of residents in the lowest income quintile. In this way, it is hoped that an understanding of the effects of Colorado's rapidly globalizing economy on the political culture of our state. 10

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CHAPTER2 POVERTY LINE AND ABSOLUTE POVERTY The poverty theory most frequently used by political scientists and public policy makers in United States is one of absolute poverty, as expressed by the official poverty line. Discussion of "poverty" as it relates to political participation, especially voter turnout, usually involves the "official" poverty rate. Many authors use the official poverty line without defining the term or putting it in context. Because the concept of the poverty line and where it came from is so poorly l.Ulderstood, this omission is problematic. Without an adequate understanding of what the poverty line is, those outside academe (and more than a few within) are bound to have misconceptions about the concept being addressed. The federally established poverty line is a measure of absolute poverty (USDHHS, 1998). That is, it is a threshold means test of one's ability to meet basic necessities. Failing to achieve a certain income threshold means that one is in poverty, thus beneath the poverty "line." The poverty line is abstracted and somewhat arbitrary, as we shall see. The "official" poverty line was developed in 1941, by nutritionists within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These experts were sent into the market to purchase the minimum nutritional needs of a family. The costs of their purchases were 11

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averaged and then multiplied by three (it was felt that a family should spend a third of their income on food3 ) and the result was established as the 'poverty line.' Thus, the poverty line represents the barest minimum of survival needs for a family (Shaw, 1996; USDHHS, 1998). This basic formula has survived even to this day. It is tied to the consumer price index (CPI), which means that in theory it is a good measure of one's ability to meet nutritional needs, even sixty years after it was developed. There have, however, been minor modifications. In 1964, the government began to take into account family size as a mitigating factor in poverty. The poverty line increased as one took into account more family members. 4 In 197 4, the government decided that since families couldn't be in poverty for extended periods, only short-term nutritional needs needed to be taken into account and the minimum nutritional needs were recalculated, reducing the poverty line by $3 for every $1 in grocery savings (Shaw 1996).5 The official poverty line has a number of problems, few of which are widely known. For one thing, it has failed to keep up with American spending habits. For example, whereas in 1941, automobiles were a luxury, in 1998 they are, if not vital, much more necessary than fifty years ago. They are also much more expensive to 3 This is known by poverty statisticians as the Engel's Coefficient(Shaw, 1996). 4 The Orshansky s s Because of the mathematical application of the Engel's Coefficient, each $1 spent on food modifies the poverty line by $3. The redefmition of the nutritional needs of the average American was adopted by the Nixon Administration and was termed the "Thrifty Food Plan." Obviously, the result was to 12

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operate. Housing costs have advanced more quickly than the CPI, as have the costs of health care and regressive taxes. Furthermore, the nature of the foods we purchase in 1998--prepackaged and processed--is entirely different than it was in 1941 (Shaw, 1996; USDHHS, 1998). The changing nature of what food we purchase and where they are purchased has been widely studied (Shaw, 1996), but these studies have never had an impact on the poverty line. In fact, politically, there is little impetus to draw a more accurate poverty line. Politicians and policy makers generally work to show how their policies have diminished poverty, even if this is merely a slight of hand. 6 Once a change reducing the number of people in poverty is accepted, it is unlikely to ever be rescinded, even one as ludicrous as the 'Thrifty Food Plan,' because to do so would apparently increase poverty during the new administration's watch. The official poverty line also recognizes no difference between rural and urban poverty. Those in rural poverty presumably have some opportunity to grow or hunt at least a portion of their food. They may pay higher transportation costs, 7 but they also have lower housing costs. Overall, the entire U.S. only makes two redefme millions of people out of poverty without raising their incomes at all (Shaw, 1996; USDHHS, 1998). 6 This is not limited to Republican administrations; the Clinton Administration ruminated on including food stamps and charity gifts as 'income,' a move that would have redefmed a million people out of poverty. Like so many policy balloons floated during the first Clinton administration, this bad idea was eventually scrapped. 7 7 Ostensibly because public transportation is not an option. If both rural and urban commuters are forced to drive, it will be more expensive to drive in the city, of course, with parking fees and 13

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allowances for areas of high cost of living--Alaska and Hawaii. Despite the massive differences in cost of living between areas like Aberdeen, South Dakota and San Francisco, California, the poverty line remains the same in both areas (USDHHS, 1998). Perhaps most important is the need for the measurement to account for the long-term nutritional needs of those living in poverty, particularly children. Children are much more likely to be in poverty for longer periods of time than any other social group (Eller, 1995). What is more, the social costs of allowing children to underdevelop because of malnutrition are tremendously high (NCCP, 1997; DeHaan & Gunvalson, 1997; Jensen & Eggebeen, 1994). Yet politically motivated attempts to redefine people out of poverty by making arbitrary decisions about nutrition have eroded what were initially established as the 'bare minimum' needs It is important to understand that the absolute poverty measure is flawed because it is a consistently cited determinant of suppressed political participation. For the reasons I demonstrated, over time the poverty line is likely to understate poverty. This may mean that over time, the relationship of absolute poverty to political participation may be changing and should, therefore, become more pronounced. However, the measure of relative poverty, as a comparison of incomes and independent of the problems I identified with the "poverty line," should maintain insurance costs. Nonetheless, if public transportation is an option it will be the most cost-effective transportation means for the poor. 14

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a consistent relationship with political participation regardless of the time period involved. The chief point in discussing the official poverty line and the problems that surround it is that many scholars use it as an identifier or determinant of political participation, without identifying its problems or even where it came from. Aside from problems with the official poverty line that I have described, perhaps it is more important, particularly in today's globalizing economy, to look beyond the simplistic measure of absolute poverty altogether. As the relative position of people in society begins to slip further and further behind the wealthy segment, will middle and lower class Americans be increasingly isolated and politically inactive? The isolating and alienating effects of absolute poverty are well-studied (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Wacquant; 1995; Wilson, 1996). Those living in absolute poverty often have less social, economic and political contact than those who are better off(Cohen & Dawson, 1993). Social isolation makes it difficult for the poor to receive the important type of political information needed to make informed decisions and encourage participation. Economic alienation reinforces the situation of the absolutely poor, making it difficult for them to work their way out of poverty (Wacquant, 1995). Finally, lack of political contact, whether with elected officials or 8 This includes President Reagan's famous attempt to classify ketchup as a vegetable. 15

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party operatives almost certainly reinforces beliefs that goverrunent works for the wealthy and deprives the poor of structural mechanisms that might otherwise encourage their participation--even if this is on a purely superficial, cosmetic level. The isolation of the absolutely poor has demonstrable effects on their probability of formally participating in the political system (Nie, Verba & Petrocik, 1976; Stephenson, N.D.; Verba, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993). What effects does poverty have on the relatively poor? It is widely speculated that the new global economy will bring with it an increase in relative poverty. If this is the case, what are the political consequences for our democracy as America (and particularly Colorado) moves towards a post-industrial economy. 16

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CHAPTER3 GLOBALIZATION/POST -INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY AND THE GROWTH OF RELATIVE POVERTY Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (1992) divides the globalized economy into the winning sectors (made up of those whom he terms symbolic analysts) and the losers (routine producers and, to a lesser extent, in-person service providers.) Reich's characterization is based on the new global economy and its polarizing effects on local and national economy. For my purposes, the most important effect is the escalating disparity between these winners and losers. Reich's perceived outcome, which is mirrored by Brouwer (1993), Greider (1997), Henwood (1996), Mead (1998), Mishel (1997 & 1995), Murray (1992), Phillips (1993), and Rifkin (1996), is important for my thesis. My hypothesis is that the increasing social stratification resulting from disparity in the division of spoils is a significant influence on declining political participation and, therefore, increasing political isolation. The global, post-industrial economy increases social polarization (and with it relative poverty) in a number of ways. Mobility of capital between national markets has enforced a number of changes on the national political and economic landscape (Reich, 1992, 1998; Greider, 1997a; 1997b; Mead, 1998). As different geographical areas compete for the location of job-creating investments, wages and non-wage labor costs are driven down, as investors seek the lowest possible costs to improve profits. 17

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Mechanization and simplification of production has enabled relatively unskilled workers in undeveloped countries to successfully compete with more educated and experienced workers in America, Europe and Japan. Better communications and transportation has enabled investors to freely roam for the lowest possible labor and tax costs. Those hardest-hit have been traditional, heavy-industrial workers where wages are high and areas where social services are strong. An increasingly deregulated labor force ensures capital access to a low wage workforce with low non-wage labor costs (e.g. payroll taxes, fringe benefits and paid leave) (Reich, 1992; Greider, 1997a, 1997b; Mead, 1998). This fact has manifested itself in drastically reduced rates of U.S. unionization between the 1960's and 1990's (Brouwer, 1992). De-unionization has been aided by automation through reducing skills needed for routine production positions. This, in turn, makes it possible to move routine production jobs overseas, to cheaper labor markets (Reich, 1992; Greider, 1997; Henwood, 1996; Rifkin, 1996). Given these global economic dynamics, it should come as little surprise that the real incomes of the lowest two quintiles (40%) of Americans have dropped since 1973 (Brouwer, 1992; Cassidy, 1995; Henwood, 1999) (See Figure 1.) Richard Gephardt put it, "A rising tide has not raised all boats; it has only raised some boats" (1997). Mobility of capital on a global scale also demands that progressive taxation must be curtailed (Cassidy, 1995; Kantor, 1988). A constant decline in the maximwn individual effective tax rate, lower effective corporate tax rates and a reduction in the 18

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capital gains tax rate have all resulted in reducing the tax burden of the wealthiest Americans (Brouwer, 1992). Meanwhile, the real combined federal, state and local tax rate on the poorest Americans has never been higher (Brouwer, 1992). At the same time, the social welfare net is also being deconstructed, partially to reduce government spending, but also to ensure a pliable, low cost labor market (Greider, 1997; Piven & Cloward, 1977). The leadership guiding the European Monetary Union, for example, emphasizes reduced government debt and stable monetary policy over low unemployment (Greider, 1997). The atmosphere is hardly different in the U.S. Reich holds certain sentimental attachments to the ability of training to raise living standards, but the reality of the de-skilled post-industrial economy may be that advanced training will probably lead to under-employment (Mead, 1998; Henwood, 1996; Rifkin, 1996). Work-tested welfare reform assures U.S. companies access to a workforce capable of performing most post-industrial service positions in return for a very low standard of living. Congressman Gephardt calls this "a demeaning of work" (1997). For example, although there has been some improvement in recent years, full time employment at the minimum wage remains a fraction of what is required to raise one above the poverty line (Henwood, 1999; Mishel, 1995). Virtually alone on the public stage, Gephardt says the way the to protect the American standard of living is by protecting workers' rights (1997). Another effect of the post-industrial economy is the growth of suburbs and the rise of economic segregation (Reich, 1992; Marcuse, 1997; Wacquant, 1995). The 19

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slowing of the suburban trend and gravitation toward urban recreation centers, does little to counteract economic segregation, instead resulting in a sort of geographic imperialism of the wealthy classes--gentrification (Robinson, 1996). The reurbanization has taken place across the nation as young, usually childless professionals seek to establish chic centers of recreation on the urban frontier, supplanting low-income neighborhoods. Re-urbanization on a New York model is clearly underway in Denver, as downtown loft living has grown drastically in the past decade. Economic segregation manifests itself on the smallest of scales, as shown in Johnson's examination of Dixon, Illinois: The stock market, although it is sputtering now, has made millionaires of many people in Main Street towns. Building developers here recently won approval to build a gated community, which will be called Timber Edge. .. "Wendy goes to school around these rich kids, her mother said, "and wonders why she can't have things like they do. (Johnson, 1998) The quote above reveals two things. First, Wendy sees the advantages and material wealth of her classmates and feels deprived of them. Second, the wealthy are removing themselves from the unwanted company of Wendy and the rest of the relatively poor. This process is not confined to Dixon, Illinois. All across America, and in Colorado, the wealthy remove themselves from the company of other economic classes (Reich, 1992). This phenomenon can take several forms, such as a displacement of the poor through increasing rents, prices and property values or 20

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through coercive urban renewal programs like those that began in Denver in the 1970's and continue today (Robinson, 1996). It may also involve planned communities that restrict income levels through planning or zoning (MacKenzie, 1994). Not only does this separation create real (sometimes literal) barriers between rich and poor, it allows the wealthy to withdraw their fiduciary support from public institutions traditionally funded by tax dollars, e.g. public schools and police protection (MacKenzie, 1994). It is exactly this conflict-<>ver mcome distributions-which makes the question of relative versus absolute poverty important. Declining real median income, concurrent with an increase in real average compensation (Mishel, 1995, 1998), underlines the changing nature of our economy and the conflict between the 'expanding pie' theorists and 'zero-sum' theorists.9 The fact that real median income declines over the past 20 years while the unemployment level has decreased puts lie to the myth that "all boats are rising" and reveals the importance of the study of relative poverty. Reich leaves the question of the new global economic system's ultimate sustainability open. Seven years after Reich's writing, it remains a vital question. Reich and other global economic scholars (especially Greider) address the problem of who wins and who losses in the global economy (Reich, 1992, 1998; Greider, 1997a, 21

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1997b; Mead, 1998). Solutions, for Reich and others, generally revolve around ensuring that as many Americans as possible move to the wilmer category. There seems to be an acceptance that there will be losers, probably large numbers of losers. Unfortunately, for many scholars, including Reich, the ultimate solution for the losers appears to be acceptance of the new economic order. There is, however, no indication that people will accept the new economic order peacefully or without political consequence. Ted Gurr (1967) draws a particularly disconcerting picture of the ends resulting from the growing disparity of social classes: Our supposition is that theory about civil violence can fruitfully be based on systematic knowledge about those properties of men which determine how they react to certain characteristics of their societies .... The central premise of the theory is that the necessary precondition for violent civil conflict is relative deprivation, defined as actor's perception of discrepancy between their value expectations and their environment's value capabilities. Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life to which people believe they are justifiably entitled. The referents of value capabilities are to be found largely in the social and physical environment: they are conditions that determine people's chances for getting or keeping the values they legitimately expect to attain. ( Gurr, 1967, pg. 3}. Gurr goes on to theorize about mitigating and complicating factors with regard to violent civil conflict. While centered on comparative political behavior and deeply rooted in the anthropological causes of violence and aggression, Gurr's 9 Expanding pie theorists believe that the economy is an expanding pie and that all stakeholders share in the benefits of economic growth. Zero-sum theorists believe that in order for one stakeholder to get a greater share, that stakeholder must win at the expense of another stakeholder. 22

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argument appears to have a great deal of face validity in today's politicaVeconomic climate. Gurr is examining the gap between an individual's expectations and their capability (which is different than relative poverty). It is worth asking ourselves whether the gap between rich and poor--observable to a 13-year-old girl like Wendy--is not also a source of relative deprivation that might produce similar effects. While under all economic systems there are winners and losers and certainly the modern U.S. economy is no exception to this rule, the impact of the postindustrial economy seems to be that there will be more losers and that the costs of losing will be much higher. There are more losers in the global economy because the 'losers' under a global economic system are not necessarily absolutely poor. The new global economy produces many low wage jobs, but unionization and high-wage routine production jobs decline. Therefore, while employment is plentiful, such employment is often insufficient to raise one very far above the poverty line, even with two incomes. 1 Furthermore, losers are likely to be deprived of social welfare programs and segregated into losing communities or neighborhoods, with poor schools (Reich, 1992, 1998; Greider, 1997a, 1997b; Gephardt, 1997; Mann, 1998; Mead, 1998; Mischel, 1995, 1997; Pollack, 1998). 10 Wilson (1987) considers the two-income family a key component in the fight against poverty. For Wilson, the lack of marriageable black males constitutes an important cause of black poverty. Stabilizing families might assist people in advancing out of absolute poverty, but unless one of the wage-earners is well above minimum wage, it will not raise them out by much. 23

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Herein lies an important distinction between absolute and relative poverty. Unless one is living in a fantasy world, the difficulties associated with life below the absolute poverty line are fairly self-evident. But in some cases, relative poverty is less perceptible. Distinctions between a decline in wages, a decline in real wages (adjusted for inflation), underemployment and advances made by increasing the number of household work hours make it difficult to determine one's place in the hierarchy of the new global economy. Thus, it is clear that the post-industrial economy seems to be leading us toward a more stratified economy, with larger numbers of economic "losers" and a large gap between "winners" and "losers." While there is growth in the "winning" sectors of society, these sectors are far outnumbered by the "losing" sectors and those sectors that are simply holding their status quo. What is most important for this research is the extent to which the postindustrial economic model applies to Colorado and the political effects of economic stratification. I will explore these concepts in the next two sections. 24

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CHAPTER4 COLORADO AS A POST-INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY Colorado exhibits many elements of a post-industrial economy. The Colorado economy, once heavily dependent on the energy sector, has rebuilt itself on a wider foundation following the slump of the 1980's. Denver has enjoyed eleven consecutive years of economic growth, has a diverse base of construction, service and tourism industries to compliment a healthy high-tech (and high value) manufacturing industry. Leadership in the communications industry, massive capital investments in biotechnology, high-technology and transportation, and publicly-financed infrastructure improvements point to Denver's cognizant drive to globalize. Furthermore, Denver's growing prominence as an "economy of consumption" and the "cultural commodification" of the American West indicate the degree to which Denver has asserted itself beyond the regional and even national level (Robinson, 1997). Denver, as a leader in telecommunications, high-tech production and tourism, is even argued to be considered a "global" city within a global economic system (Robinson, 1997). In addition to being global, Denver is also exhibits low rates of unionization, low non-wage labor costs, and a friendly business climate (RPCCED, 1992). 25

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As a result of this economy, we would expect to see relative poverty in Colorado counties on the rise. In fact, as of 1990 this was not the case. As of 1990 (the date of the last census), relative poverty was about the same as m 1980. In fact, in a number of key suburban Denver counties, there was a significant drop in relative poverty in these years. However, it is important to remember that Census dates rarely correspond to economic milestones. This is particularly true in the case of Denver, where the census dates (1980 and 1990) are poor indicators of the economic picture today. However, in assessing relative poverty county-by-county depends on census data--the only time in which individual income is reported-meaning that the millennia! census will be a much better indicator of whether relative poverty is growing than 1980-1990.11 Prima facie evidence suggests that income differentials will show a marked increase after the 2000 census, especially in communities where long-term residents are being replaced by newer, more affluent ones. The results of the 1980 and 1990 census reject the idea that relative poverty is growing, even in the metropolitan Denver counties where we would expect this to be the case, as exhibited by Table 4.1: 11 This is clearly a major limitation of this research. Information on Colorado counties by decile is only available once every ten years, following the census. 1bis obviously does not conform to economic cycles. 26

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Table 4.1 County Relative Relative Poverty Rate, Poverty Rate, 1980 1990 Adams 20.5% 16.6% Arapahoe 14.1% 16.4% Boulder 18.7% 21.2% Denver 29.7% 24.4% Douglas 25.8% 12.7% Jefferson 27.4% 15.4% Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993, 1984 If Colorado exhibits a post-industrial economy, why is relative poverty on the decline in key counties, where we would expect the effects of a post-industrial economy to be most pronounced? To some extent, this points to a weakness in the use of county-level data for the purpose of determining relative poverty. The metropolitan county data reflects exactly the sorts of spatial patterns we would expect to see in a post-industrial metropolitan area (Kempen & Marcuse, 1997; Marcuse, 1997). That is, the reduction in relative poverty in most of these counties shows that spatial concentration may well be taking place, although it may be taking place across the boundaries of the sixcounty area. For example Douglas County consolidating its position as an enclave for the wealthier elements, displacing or swamping the numbers of relatively poor with 27

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rapid growth. Apart from whether there is a methodological problem basing relative poverty figures on counties, this outcome certainly raises a question about the spatial boundaries of how economic strata arrange themselves and how this manifests itself in the Denver metropolitan area. Denver's suburbs, exurbs and satellite cities arguably reach, unbroken, from Fort Collins in the North to Colorado Springs in the South. The process of segregation into enclaves described by Marcuse (1997) is vital to understanding the spatial nature inherent in relative poverty, and clearly takes place at a larger spatial level than the county. Furthermore, the data presented here really sets up the coming millennia! census, when we would expect to see an increase in relative poverty resulting from globalization of Denver's economy. Between 1980 and 1990 there was a bust and then the beginning of a boom. Denver's steps toward globalization were taken toward the end of the 1980's, with a conscious plan to move Denver in a global direction (Robinson, 1997). Therefore, census data from the past ten unchecked years of economic growth in a global direction should produce numbers closer to expectations. Colorado's current economic growth has fueled employment, but the number of unemployed remains largely unchanged during the period of each census snapshot (at just over 6,000) (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998). The decrease in the unemployment rate arguably has more to do with population growth than the real nwnber of poor people finding jobs and increasing their relative position in society. 28

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While relative poverty declined, absolute poverty rates in the six Denver metropolitan area counties grew substantially between 1980 and 1990 (remained constant in Douglas County) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983, 1992), as shown in Table 4.2: Table 4.2 County Absolute Absolute Poverty Rate, Poverty Rate, 1980 1990 Adams 6.0% 10.4% Arapahoe 3.3% 5.9% Boulder 5.0% 11.0% Denver 10.3% 17.1% Douglas 3.2% 3.2% Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993, 1984 Drastic increases in absolute poverty, particularly in Boulder and Denver counties, coupled with a general decline in relative poverty, creates a number of important questions with regards to the relationship of population growth, absolute and relative poverty. Obviously large numbers of jobs were being created during 1980 and 1990 (USDOL, 1998; Peck, 1994). The impact of these jobs on the poor, however, appears negligible. Relative poverty rates can be drastically influenced by how much and in which demographic groups an area's population is growing. Massive growth in 29

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middle income population can diminish relative poverty, at the same time that the absolute poverty rate is increasing. Population growth in metropolitan Denver counties is substantial: Table 4.3 County Voting Age Voting Age Change 1980-1990 Population, 1980 Population, 1990 Adams 167,594 188,203 +12% Arapahoe 205,221 285,274 +39% Boulder 142,381 173,728 +22% Denver 381,488 365,449 -4% Douglas 16,152 41,636 +153% Jefferson 253,809 322,459 +24% Total 1,168,625 1,378,739 +18% Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993, 1984 These drastic population increases in suburban Denver are due to shifts in the Front Range Colorado economy, drawing skilled workers from other parts of the country (Robinson, 1996). Furthermore, these increases are expected to continue or even escalate for the 2000 census, with the exception of Denver's population turnaround. Growth in absolute poverty rates during this period suggest that numbers of the lowest economic stratum are increasing, while the growth in middle income families might be statistically offsetting the effect of growing numbers of absolutely 30

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poor in the calculation of the relative poverty rate. Therefore, the lack of growth in relative poverty does not mean that Colorado is not a globalized state, but rather that it is very successful in attracting middle-income workers. Therefore, in the key post industrial counties in Colorado, job growth and the influx of a large number of middle-income families have prevented the appearance of wide social stratification. Suburbanization is clearly a powerful demographic force in the economy of the Denver Metropolitan Area between 1980 and 1990 (Peck, 1994). Denver shed 3.4% of its total employment between 1980 and 1990, while the suburban counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas and Jefferson) added 183,668 jobs, a 47.5% increase (Peck, 1994). Furthermore, the voting age population of the five suburban counties grew by 29% between 1980 and 1990, while the population of Denver itself shrank by 4% (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983, 1992). In 1980, the five suburban counties made up 67% of the Denver Metropolitan voting age population. By 1990, they made up 73% of the Denver Metropolitan voting age population. This change does not necessarily represent flight from Denver, but rather that further population growth is more difficult in Denver, as it is constitutionally restricted. The inability to discern relative poverty in these counties is to some extent the result of planned unit developments in suburban counties. Growth of these economically homogenized communities (largely responsible for housing the middle income families discussed above) is certainly a powerful way to reduce relative poverty. Inhabitants of planned unit developments tend to be of similar income 31

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(MacKenzie, 1994). This means that a planned unit development of 2000 units exhibits a powerful mathematical weight on relative poverty in a county. Growth of planned unit developments in Colorado is substantial. According to David Laffone, of Home Builder's Research in Highlands Ranch, almost all housing starts in the Denver metropolitan area (and Elbert County, which isn't ordinarily included in Denver metro statistics) are now part of a planned development. This growth reached 117,609 condominium, townhouse and single family housing starts between 1980 and 1990. This growth has continued in the 1990's, having reached 102,065 starts through 1997 (Laffone, 1998). Colorado clearly exhibits signs of socio-economic segregation and colonization by the wealthy, described by Reich as "secession" (1992). Robinson (1977) describes the transformation of three Denver neighborhoods as a result of globalization. In particular, the capital "Flood" occurred in the Lower Downtown (Lodo) area, where Single resident occupancy hotels were eliminated in favor of a recreation district and high-end residential lofts. Public investment in a professional baseball stadium fueled rapid growth in one of Denver's most sought after neighborhoods. Single resident occupancy hotels are often the last alternative to homelessness, thus their destruction assured the transformation of the area from among Denver's poorest in 1980, to a mixed neighborhood in 1990 to one of the most wealthy in 1998 (Robinson, 1997). Lower downtown's transformation can be seen as a kind of inward looking, retrogressive imperialism. Even architectural styles suggest 32

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fortresses on the urban frontier. Alarms, narrow windows and wide fields of view give wealthy inner-city residents a sense of security. The radical upward trend in real estate prices assure that Lodo is no longer a low-cost home for the poor. This trend should increase relative poverty in the City and County of Denver--assuming the low income residents being displaced can economically afford to stay in Denver. The capital "drought" affects the Northeast Downtown (Nodo) area. While within the same proximate area with Coors Field as Lodo, Nodo has been left behind as a center for low-end service providers (pawnshops and liquor stores) (Robinson, 1997). Nodo is home to a wide array of social service providers as well, a concentration which has increased with the enrichment of Lodo (Robinson, 1997). The concentration of the poor into a confined (and clearly defined) urban space is also probably an indication of post-industrial geographic patterns of poverty. Despite moderate growth in the number of absolutely poor people in urban areas, the urban space allotted for them is declining, thus increasing concentration. Increasing concentration of poor is the result of declining public investment in subsidized housing, which results in higher housing costs and increased demand in highly concentrated, private low-cost housing areas (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). Finally, Robinson uses Auraria-Lincoln Park as an area of "gentle irrigation." Home to the University of Colorado at Denver, Auraria-Lincoln Park was the target of urban redevelopers in the early 1970's (Robinson, 1997). After a fight, half the neighborhood was displaced in favor of the urban campus of the University of 33

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Colorado system (Noel, 1997). The other half of the neighborhood languished in Denver's worst poverty between 1980 and 1990 (City and County of Denver, 1994). Among other neighborhood activists, the rise of a not-for-profit community development corporation (NEWSED) has led to a number of gradual improvements (Robinson, 1997). It remains to be seen whether this gradualist approach is vastly superior, from a progressive perspective. The impact of community development corporations can be substantial (Quammen, 1996). These improvements, however, may be attracting middle class young people to the neighborhood, driving up property values. The end result remains to be seen. If low-income people in such communities are given opportunities to advance economically, this should reduce relative poverty in the City and County of Denver, but it is worth reiterating that such a phenomenon would run counter to national trends (Mishel, 1995). If there is an influx of more affluent people coming into Denver, particularly in trendy places like Lodo, why is relative poverty in Denver declining? The problem with using county-level data to describe a supra-county phenomenon and the rapid growth of the Denver metropolitan area (including, probably Denver proper), has some effect. However, it is probably the difference between present perceptions and past data that accounts for a great deal of this problem. The census taken in 1990 is likely to have been the low point for Denver. Lodo was a series of abandoned warehouses when this census was taken. The 2000 census will no doubt produce different results. 34

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Estimates of current average and median income based on mathematical formulas are insufficient to develop a relative poverty rate--a relative poverty rate depends on individual reports of income distributions available only after a decennial census. Economic segregation is clearly underway in Colorado's mountain communities as well. Telluride is an excellent example (Telluride Publishing, 1998). The town of Telluride itself dates back to the 1860's. While nearly becoming a ghost town with the silver bust (1893), the town established a ski area in the 1970's and developed a stable resident population. The success of the town drew more and more wealthy skiers, drawn by the town's reputation, isolated location and scenic beauty. As a result, housing prices went up, drastically. Mining huts (remodeled or not) now routinely sell for $250,000. But even more stark is nearby Mountain Village. Connected to Telluride by the ski area's gondola12 and directly attached to the ski area, Mountain Village is a politically distinct community that is specifically designed to provide secure living space for the wealthy while still providing easy access to the culture, clubs, stores and nightlife of Telluride. Mountain Village requires a pass to enter past the multi-level security checkpoints. Visitors to Mountain Village are limited to thirty minutes parking. Mountain Village has swimming facilities, a golf course, ski-in, ski-out access to virtually every home and lighted tennis courts--none ofwhich can be used by Telluride residents. While growth of relative poverty in San 12 Proudly touted as the world's only gondola that is part of a mass transit system. 35

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Miguel County was slight (going from 19.9% in 1980 to 23.4% in 1990), growth of real income between 1980 and 1990 was an astounding 34.1% (Census Bureau, 1993). The impact of growth and social stratification is being felt on the Front Range as well (Laugesen, 1999). In fact, towns like Lyons (in Boulder County) are being tom apart by political tensions between lower income longtime residents and more affluent newcomers (Miller, 1999). The elements of a post-industrial economy are observable in Colorado. The rapid rise of economic segregation, both on the urban frontier and in planned unit developments in the suburbs, also suggests the post-industrial economy is entrenched on the Front Range and in the mountains of Colorado. Significant growth in key Denver metropolitan middle-class counties, however, obscures the rise in relative poverty we would expect to see in global economies. Such economic stratification, between 1980 and 1990, may be hidden by growth rates in many key counties. This is a problem for the study of relative poverty as it relates to political participation. However, the rise in absolute poverty rates suggests that, as we would expect in a globalized economy, growing numbers of people are becoming poor, even if they are statistically not as large a proportion of the population because of the middle-income population growth in those counties. Furthermore, the study of relative poverty by county may well be flawed. The best unit of comparison for Colorado could be a community or neighborhood in some 36

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people are becoming poor, even if they are statistically not as large a proportion of the population because of the middle-income population growth in those counties. Furthermore, the study of relative poverty by county may well be flawed. The best unit of comparison for Colorado could be a community or neighborhood in some cases and a region in others. However, such groupings would require profound knowledge of the political culture, economy and politics of every area of the state. Currently, even the best analyses of the state are quite general and a little dated (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). It is important here to bring up the fact that Colorado, like all states, is only a year away from a new census. This new census will probably have key data that may prove important for this study. For the first time, the census data being compared (1990 and 2000) will reflect Colorado in similar economic situations. However, as will be demonstrated in the next section, the reality appears to be that neither relative nor absolute poverty shows very strong relationships with political participation. Therefore, the question of how this relationship is evolving may be somewhat moot. 37

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CHAPTERS RELATIVE POVERTY AND ITS POLITICAL EFFECTS Absolute poverty has a number of demonstrated effects on political participation (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Abramson & Claggett, 1989; Bennett & Klecka, 1970; de la Garza & DeSipio, 1996; Greenberg, 1974; Katznelson, 1981; Miller & Schanks, 1996; Verba, Lehman Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994). Scholarship generally points to economic status as a key indicator of political participation of any sort (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Abramson & Claggett, 1989; Bennett & Klecka, 1970; Verba, Lehman Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994). The same is true of the most formal practice of casting a ballot in an election (Miller & Schank:s, 1996; Verba, Lehman Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993). The mechanisms that determine lower turnout in areas of poverty are difficult to sort out as causes or effects. However, scholarship consistently points to the decline in functioning social institutions--a decline that generally is associated with poverty areas--as a major cause of declining participation (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Erbe, 1964; McClerking, 1998; Miller, 1998; Miller & Shanks, 1996; Wilson, 1987). Such institutions are vital places of dissemination of political information (Cohen and 38

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Dawson, 1993). They are important sources of a psychic connection to the community (Erbe, 1964; McClerking, 1998; Miller, 1998). Miller and Shanks (1996) suggest that people formally participating in politics (by voting) do not share sociological characteristics with people who choose 'fig_t to participate: The overall conclusion at this stage of our inquiry is that persons who exhibit above-average social connectedness, hold a sense of party identification, show an interest in elections, and have more formal education were visibly less likely to contribute to declining turnout over time as a consequence of generational differences. Those who are nonidentified, disinterested, less integrated socially, and less well educated exhibited a larger consequence for turnout resulting from generational behavior. (Miller & Shanks, 1996, Pg. 111}--emphasis mine. Intuitively, Miller and Shank's argument makes sense. People who are less connected to the government and society in general are less likely to feel the motivation to vote than those who feel they are in some way stakeholders. The question moves from why people are less likely to formally show support by participation to why people feel less connected to political institutions. This is not to diminish the idea that increased relative costs of voting are very influential in declining voter turnout among the poor. The relative cost of participation is more difficult for the poor to bear and obviously presents an obstacle to rational participation (Downs, 1953). Rational choice theory alone, however, cannot fully explain voting behavior. Involvement in certain social institutions, such 39

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as schools, churches and social or political clubs has a demonstrated impact on voting behavior (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; Miller & Schanks, 1996; Miller, 1998). This disconnection from politically positive social institutions and lack of social integration potentially manifests itself in a number of ways, but I will broadly use the term "political isolation" for all of these manifestations. Political isolation is the disconnection of the individual from political institutions.13 Disconnection discounts, discredits and effectively removes socially reinforced incentives to participate in the political system. These are the socially reinforced incentives that Anthony Downs (1953) suggests are the real drivers of political participation. Without them, we are left with a rational choice as the sole motivation of whether to formally participate or not--with costs generally outweighing benefits. The opposite of motivation is not necessarily isolation, 14 but isolation is certainly oppositional to motivation. Institutional involvement appears to mitigate such isolation. Institutions provide individuals with opportunities to empower themselves and exchange infonnation. Institutional membership increases the likelihood of an individual 13 A case could be made that the politically isolated persons are actually active in non-tradition or informal institutions, but Cohen & Dawson (1993) and Wilson (1987) suggest this is not the case. 14 Many suggest that lack of motivation stems from satisfaction (Stephenson, N.D.). 1bis may be the case when one is considering more deep measures of political participation, such as protesting or working on a campaign (Bennett & Klecka, 1970; Erbe, 1964; Lyons & Lowery, 1986; Thomas, 1982; Verba, Lehman, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994), but there is usually some social pressure to vote in satisfied conununities. While often cited as a cause of declining participation, there is little academic evidence that suggests that satisfaction has caused statistically significant numbers of people to withdraw from the political system. 40

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participating in community activity as an activist, as well as formally (by voting) (Cohen & Dawson, 1993; McClerking, 1998). Certain civic institutions might also be a rare opportunity to break the barriers between social classes. Churches, parks, public spaces and community centers are often used by a wider socio-economic demographic sector than those that work together or live in the same neighborhood. Particularly in some small, homogeneous communities, institutions might tend to have a social integration function that builds community spirit and counteracts the effects of increasing social stratification. Even if the wealthy chose to send their children to a private school, for example, middle and lower class people will still enjoy the fruits of an educational institution fiscally supported in large part by the wealthy. In this way, resentment and envy is probably reduced and support for the system is maintained and even strengthened (Kaus, 1992). We can see that there are probably real advantages to people living in relative poverty (Kempen & Marcuse, 1997)--as opposed to relative wealth in an area of extreme absolute poverty where institutions have been degraded-provided that community institutions are truly open to them and they have opportunity to take advantage of those institutions. Advantages might include an opportunity to attend a better school or to mix in higher strata social networks. In a global economy, however, this advantage is less likely to work in favor of the poor, both because of planned real estate developments that restrict socio-economic mixing (MacKenzie, 41

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1994) and reduced support for publicly financed institutions (Reich, 1992; Wacquant, 1995). The duality on the relationship between the relatively poor and wealthy underlines another of the differences between past social stratification and stratification resulting from the global economy. In the past, social stratification has not taken on the same spatial dimensions that it has under the new economic reality. While there has always been the ''wrong side of the tracks" and "millionaires' row", the millionaires have rarely before incorporated and fenced off their town to avoid the tax burden of supporting the relatively poor. In addition, in the late 1990's they have gravitated toward a single geographic area where they can gain political predominance or drive out lower income people with high rents and restrictive zomng. The global economy, despite its tendency to polarize society in general actually may economically homogenize individual (particularly small) communities and therefore cause a decline in social institutions in poor communities (Reich, 1992; Greider, 1997a; Kaus, 1992; Wilson, 1987, 1991 & 1992). According to scholars like Reich (1992) and Grieder (1997a), we would expect a post-industrial, globalized economy to exhibit signs of economic stratification and starkly delineated class space. This spatial dimension has tragic consequences when applied to absolute poverty (Wilson, 1987, 1996; Wilson & Aponte, 1985; Wacquant, 1985). Marcuse (1997) has explored the totalization of all spatial economic distributions. That is, in a 42

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global economy, the tendency is for class space to move toward exclusivity. According to Marcuse, rather than sustaining a mix of classes, ghettoes, enclaves and fortresses become communities exclusively of like socioeconomic classes. If the global economy speeds the decline in public institutions and these institutions are recognized as causal factors driving formal political participation (voting), it is logical to expect declining voter turnout in broad areas (such as counties) of an advanced economy and high relative poverty. This raises the questions of which institutions have positive influence and which have negative influence. Furthermore, the question might legitimately be asked whether the influence of institutions are causal or whether decline in such institutions is the result of increasing social isolation. In fact, the decline in public institutions and increasing political isolation are probably interrelated (Miller, 1998). By reducing the positive impact of public institutions, we may surmise that increasing stratification of social classes in the U.S. may lead to increasing social isolation and declining participation (Brouwer, 1993; Cassidy, 1995). 43

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CHAPTER6 ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL P ARTIClP A TION I chose to study political participation in Colorado counties because both the poverty data and the elections data were relatively easy to get. My initial hope was to gather data for individual communities, but this proved to be much more difficult.15 Colorado had 63 counties in 1998.16 For each county, I studied two decennial censuses and two elections in order to maximize the number of data points. Some counties create problems because of low population. Hinsdale County has but 467 inhabitants (according to the 1990 census). Mineral County has only 558 and San Juan County only 745 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1992). In all, there are 19 Colorado Counties with less than 5,000 inhabitants. However, the problem is obviously much worse using only "communities" as a study group, since over a third of Colorado communities have less than 1,000 inhabitants. 15 Colorado election returns are kept by county at the Secretary of State's Office. Election results by r.recinct are kept by County Clerks in the individual counties. 6 Under the Colorado State Constitution, the bonndaries of all counties are fixed, and may only be changed by a statewide referendum. The city of Broomfield, spanning Jefferson, Adams and Boulder Counties petitioned to become an autonomous county and the measure passed in November of 1998 adding a county in 1999. 44

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In order to determine political participation, I chose ballots cast divided by voting age population (V AP). Using voting age population rather than registered voters eliminates the process of self-selection, however it complicates the equation a bit by including resident aliens, military personnel choosing to vote in their state of residents via absentee ballot and incarcerated persons. I chose ballots cast for the Presidential Elections in 1980 and 1992, because these elections are close to the census.17 Readers should be aware that there is a significant problem with voter "drop off'; that is, voters vote for high profile races and quit voting at some point along the ballot. Rodney Hero (1997) does an excellent job of exploring the problem voter drop off in Latino/a communities in Colorado. This interesting and important problem, however, must be left for another paper. Absolute poverty, defined as the official poverty line, is available from a number of sources, including the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I use numbers from the Census Bureau collected at the 1970, 1980 and 1990 censuses. Relative poverty is a bit more problematic. Income distributions were not reported in 1970 and were reported differently in 1990 and 1980. There is, for this reason, some small difference in relative poverty from 1980 to 1990, as I will explain later, but the difference should not be enough to reduce confidence in the findings. 45

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The qualitative aspects of relative poverty must be set aside. While at some point it may be possible to bring the expertise together to study income inequality in Colorado, it may be more useful and effective to study a single geographic area, such as the Denver metropolitan area. An adequate qualitative study of relative poverty in Colorado, taking into account the precise community boundaries and characteristics, would require extensive knowledge of all areas of the state and such extensive analysis seems unjustified given the generally weak nature of the relationship between relative poverty and political participation. For 1990, income distributions are given for numbers of persons reporting income within relatively small ranges. To determine the percentage of people in relative poverty I multiplied the median income by .4. This provides an income level below which one is considered relatively poor. In effect, this is the bottom 20% of incomes; because the median is the middle and 40% (or .4) of that number should be the approximate bottom quintile. The number of persons reporting income within or below the income range containing the result is divided by the total number of persons reporting income. The result is the approximate percentage of people in relative poverty. This is an approximation, but one which should be adequate for my uses. 17 I also gathered election and absolute poverty figures for the 1972 election and 1970 census. Alas, income distributions for this time were not available, preventing me from developing a relative poverty figure. 46

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For 1980, the income distributions were much wider and were reported as percentages of people earning incomes within that range. For purposes of detennining a relative poverty rate, this raw data required more precision than the smaller ranges in 1990. I again multiplied the median income by .4. This result again provided the threshold beneath which one would be considered in relative poverty. Because the ranges were wider, I rejected rounding the threshold up. Instead, I included a share of the range based upon where the threshold fell within it. For example, if the threshold were $5,000, it Would fall within the "Less than $10,000" range, where 14% of the people fell. In this case, $5,000 is 50% of $10,000, which means that 7% of the people were considered to be in relative poverty. In any case, the 1980 relative poverty number is not entirely accurate and not directly comparable to 1990 figures. Nevertheless, they are useful and the best that can be accomplished without going back to raw Census Bureau data, which is protected information; its use requires special permission from the Bureau of the Census in order to protect the privacy of individuals completing the census. The mechanics of the relative poverty figures is a bit opaque, but as we will see later, the outcome is not significant in this research. The figures for both years fall into similar ranges and we do not see wide differences in any county. Essentially, very similar numbers are being used, but different data-smoothing measures are being taken. 47

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One question that I considered carefully was the use of median income rather than mean income to determine the threshold. I chose median because it was easier to find the data, though solid arguments could be made for using mean income (which is almost always higher than median income). If anything, by choosing median income I have understated relative poverty. This brings me to the findings of this research--the nature of the relationship between political participation and relative poverty (see Figure 2). Surprisingly, on a county level, the data showed virtually no correlation between relative poverty and political participation. In other words, counties that have high relative poverty rates generally did not vote less (or more) than other counties. Different conclusions can be reached with regard to the reasons for this relationship and I will explore some of the possibilities a little later. This finding must be considered a major setback for my hypothesis and would almost certainly be the end of the investigation, but I was also surprised to find little correlation between voting and absolute poverty as well (see Figure 3). As stated earlier, income and political participation is a well-recognized relationship. Since absolute poverty is a function of income, we can safely assume that counties with high absolute poverty should have significantly lower voter turnout. This is obviously not the case in Colorado, however. Furthermore, even traditional variables such as education and household income do not correlate with turnout very closely among Colorado Counties. 48

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According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census data, counties with high rates of college graduate residency are barely more likely to turn out to vote than counties with less college graduates (see Figure 4). Education is generally held to be a very strong predictor of political participation behavior (Abramson & Claggett, 1989; Bennett & Klecka, 1970; Miller, 1998; Nie, Verba & Petrocik, 1976; Verba, Lehman, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993; Wielhouwer & Lockerbie, 1994). Household income, another widely held predictor of political participation (Nie, Verba & Petrocik, 1976; Verba, Lehman, Schlozman, Brady & Nie, 1993), does not correlate well either (see Figure 5). The weakness of these relationships in Colorado counties is curious and requires an examination into possible explanations. However, if we look at the relationship between turnout in the 1996 general election in Denver alone, using City Council Districts rather than counties, we can see a rather strong relationship (see Figure 6.) The low number of council districtseleven--suggests a low degree of confidence in this data. Further study focusing on urban data in Colorado (particularly the Denver metropolitan area) is an obvious next step in this research. Perhaps an effect can be seen in urban areas alone which is unobservable statewide. The first question that must be asked revolves around whether the thesis is fundamentally flawed. Is poverty, relative or absolute, relevant in the study of political participation? Evidence presented here suggests that in Colorado, at least, poverty is not a very important factor in determining political participation. 49

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However, the high degree of deviation in the statistics points to another result: in some places poverty does have an influence, in other places it does not. This is not necessarily a problem for this research. Indeed, it is a very important discovery. While poverty may influence political participation, it does not do so necessarily. It is this high degree of deviation that requires us to examine other factors that influence high degrees of participation in Colorado in areas with high levels of poverty. It is important to remember that voter turnout rates across Colorado are high as compared to voter turnout nationally, with 66% of the voting age population casting ballots in 1992. Nationwide, this rate is approximately 55% (AVC, 1999). This above-average rate indicates a high degree of political motivation and strong feelings of political efficacy in Colorado in virtually all areas of the state. Certainly, there seems be a methodological problem in using data from counties. Again, counties may be too large or too small a community to influence feelings of relative deprivation. Counties are chosen because the information is readily available and uniform. Whether relative poverty thresholds are calculated on a community, county or regional level, while we might expect the relative poverty rate to be more or less pronounced, it really should have little effect on the relationship with political participation. The lack of a positive or negative correlation (both with relative poverty and absolute poverty) makes it seem unlikely that such manipulation will yield different results. 50

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One important explanation for low correlation and high deviation of the turnout figures is the drastic deviation of a number of counties from expected results. A primary goal of this research is to identify areas that drastically deviate from expectations and qualitatively study them for explanation(s). There are four counties that drastically deviate from expected results. Despite poverty (in many cases both relative and absolute), low educational attainment and high numbers of non-white population, these counties turn out fairly well. Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano and Saguache Counties are all poor (in terms of both relative and absolute poverty), yet political participation in each was well above average: Table 6.1 County Absolute Relative Poverty Turnout18 Poverty Rate Rate Conejos 33.9 32.5 75.4 Costilla 34.6 34.9 79.5 Heurfano 25.7 30.3 70.1 Saguache 30.6 28.8 71.4 State Average 11.7 21.0 66.0 Numbers derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993, 1994 There are two powerful reasons for this high voting turnout. First, a unique mix of political subcultures, as explained by Thomas Cronin and Robert Loevy 51

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(1993) may be an important reason why participation fails to correlate with poverty. Cronin and Loevy (1993) use Daniel Elazar's theory of American political subculture to explain conflict in Colorado politics. Usually, these tensions are between the moralist (essentially liberal) and the individualist (essentially conservative), with the individualist subculture dominant (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). According to Cronin and Loevy (1993), Elazar's third type of political subculture, which Elazar calls "traditionalist," manifests itself in Latino/ a political culture in Southern Colorado, although this characterization is certainly oversimplified. While Cronin and Loevy (1993) do not discuss voter turnout as it relates to political culture, they bring up a couple of interesting points. The first point is the real and lasting tension between individualist and moralist political cultures (Cronin & Loevy, 1993).19 Since Democrats are more likely to be "moralist" than Republicans (Cronin & Loevy, 1993), this conflict is likely to promote elections between candidates with real differences in their stands on important issues.20 Since the candidates are likely to hold differing political views, elections (especially 18 Again, this is ballots cast divided by voting age population. 19 The use of these terms ("moralist" and "individualist") creates some problems. Clearly, I am oversimplifying by labeling "moralist" as liberal and "individualist" as conservative. For a better analysis of these terms, see Cronin and Loevy. 20 This is from the Colorado Citizens Poll, conducted by Talmey-Drake, a polling fum, in 1990. In this poll, citizens were asked which of the following statements they agreed with most: 1) "Each individual should take care of him-or herself." (Individualist, according to Cronin and Loevy) 2) "Government should work to make people's lives-and community life-better." (Moralist, again according to Cronin and Loevy) Seventy five percent of Republicans chose number 1, compared to 50% of Democrats. Twenty percent of Republicans chose number 2, compared to 45% of Democrats. 52

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;tatewide elections) have more at stake in Colorado than elsewhere in the U.S. and >resumably provide more of an incentive to vote (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). The problem with this line of reasoning is that like most single member listrict voting arrangements, districts tend to be non-competitive. Therefore, egardless of whether the differences between the candidates are significant or not, he outcome of the election is likely to be predetermined and unlikely to motivate roters--in fact, one would expect voters from the losing party to become alienated rom the process as a result. It seems logical to assume that being represented by a adical representative of a different party with little or no chance of defeating that epresentative would tend to isolate one from the political process. Only one of ::olorado's congressional seats could be considered competitive (the Second, mostly of Boulder County), and that has only recently become In cases where radically opposed candidates in competitive districts meet it is 1atural to assume that turnout would be high, but this cannot be the case in more than l handful of districts across the state. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that state .egislative races, even the most competitive ones, really drive turnout this much :::ronin and Loevy fail to make a case that parties in Colorado are significantly iifferent than those elsewhere in the U.S. or that radically opposed parties have a najor impact on voter motivation. 53

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A second interesting suggestion from Cronin and Loevy (1993) is the unique nature of the political subculture of the San Luis valley--the traditionalist. The traditionalist political culture (as it relates to Colorado) is characterized by: "the idea that the dominant role in society and government should be played by a limited number of socially prominent families with large landed estates" (Cronin & Loevy, 1993, pg. 25). The traditionalist view also emphasized preservation of the status quo (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). Unlike the moralist and individualist subcultures, Cronin and Loevy (1993) relate the traditionalist view to Latino/a communities,21 thus giving the traditionalist political subculture a geographic dimension--across the southerncentral section of the state. Since traditionalist political culture, from a national perspective, generally is responsible for driving voter turnout down, the only conclusion we can draw from Cronin and Loevy's observation is that if there is a traditional political culture in South-Central Colorado, that for some reason the nature of the relationship between the elite and the followers in the San Luis Valley is different than across the Southern United States, where traditionalist political culture is generally found. This raises the question of political leadership and organization. Whereas in the Southern U.S. it is in the interest of the elite that the lowest classes not vote, in the 21 Again, I find Cronin and Loevy's characterizations of Colorado political subculture stretching Elazar's categories to the utmost Furthermore, they do not rely on empirical evidence to back their characterizations, but rather on historical argumentation that borders on crude stereotyping. Perhaps Elazar's model was never meant to be extended to areas with substantial Latino/ a populations. 54

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San Luis Valley the opposite may be true. South-Central Colorado counties are overwhelmingly Democratic (Cronin & Loevy, 1993). Since they are small in population, Democratic leaders could attempt to maximize their statewide clout by turning voters out in large numbers. Leadership and party organization may have taken advantage of the traditional political culture in this heavily Latina/a area to raise political participation rates to their advantage. While counterintuitive, it appears to be the only explanation for high turnout rates if one accepts Cronin and Loevy's contention that the San Luis Valley is home to a traditionalist political culture. Leadership would be more of a factor in a traditionalist political culture than in more individualistic ones and I believe that leadership plays a significant role in raising turnout in these areas. How much is culture responsible for the extraordinary political participation rates in the four counties listed above? There appears to be more than coincidence. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that leadership may also play a role in voter turnout (elitism is a characteristic of traditionalist political culture according to Cronin and Loevy). Several people interviewed suggested that political culture and leadership are important factors in these counties. Huerfano County Clerk Judy Benine emphasized that: "People here are very good about doing their duty and that's the way they see it (voting), as their duty." Socialization, community connection and tradition appear to have a much more powerful affect on political behavior in these counties than co-determinants such as educational attainment and income. 55

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Again, traditionalist political culture is generally associated with low turnout, but it is usually associated with areas (the American South) where the elite seek to suppress and reduce turnout, rather than promote it (as is in the case of south-central Colorado). In any case, Cronin and Loevy identify these counties as the core of the traditionalist political culture in Colorado. These counties defy the expectations of the traditionalist political culture by leading the state in turnout (in the context of their economic condition). It is my contention (backed up through interviews with officials in these counties and personal political experience) that leadership provides a major reason for increased turnout. While Judy Benine (Huerfano County Clerk) dismissed activism as a major cause of high turnout, both Andrew Perea (Conejos County Clerk) and Marlene Pruitt (Saguache County Clerk) suggested that active leadership was a major cause of high participation rates. Both suggested that while local political culture stresses voting as important (strong efficacy) and as a civic duty (positive socialization), political leadership played a major role in increasing voter turnout. Mr. Perea also discussed the convenience of voting and strongly contested local races that fuel interest even in by-elections. It is unlikely that it is more convenient to vote in Conejos County than elsewhere in the state and I didn't look at data from local races. Ms. Pruitt, however, was very sure that Democratic activists were responsible for strong early absentee ballot voting (as of 10/27/98 she had 650 56

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absentee ballots cast for the 11/3/98 election--in a county with 3150 potential voting age people!) Mike Lujan, Democratic County Chairman for Conejos County, agreed that socialization may play a role in high participation, but said that people "vote on the issues, and you need to get information to them on the issues." This, he believed, was best done through a core of dedicated activists. He has worked, in the weeks leading up to the 1998 election, to put together a group of activists to raise turnout (without the assistance of the state party). It is only through the efforts of these leaders, he suggested, that turnout will stay high. Leadership has a powerful influence on political participation, combined with political culture as a lesser factor. The strong showing of these four counties shows that disadvantages of low educational attainment and income can be overcome. I agree with Miller's (1998) suggestion that voting and social ties may have a dynamic, mutually influential relationship. This is clearly what we see happening in these four counties. It makes little difference whether turnout is strong because people have a connection to the institutions there or because party activism is driving participation. To some degree both are present and are probably interrelated. Even if, as Judy Benine (Huerfano County Clerk) suggests, people here are voting because it is their duty (they are socialized to do so), activism may be necessary to reinforce this behavior and for initiating such behavior. Other counties, such as Alamosa, Las Animas, Otero and Rio Grande are statistically very similar to 57

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Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano and Saguache--except in turnout. It appears there is more at work than socialization. Contrary to the above counties, and traditional theories of political participation, we see in Colorado a number of counties where participation is poor, despite the presence of strong co-determinants. Adams, Arapahoe, Eagle and El Paso Counties all participate somewhat less than would be expected for the wealth and educational attainment. These counties are more complex to analyze than the four high-turnout counties. They are not within the same geographic area (though three of the four are in the Denver/Front Range area.) These counties may actually be near or slightly above average turnout for the state, but they deviate somewhat from expected results. That is, these counties may be average in terms of turnout, but fall far short of where turnout should be for counties with such low poverty rates or they may have average poverty and have low turnout. In any case they deviate from the expected norm for voter turnout. All of these counties have a common denominator: growth. These counties are among the fastest growing in the state. Between 1970 and 1990, Adams County grew by 77%, Arapahoe grew by 187%, Eagle County by 253% and El Paso County by 88%. With the exception of Eagle County, this represents very large numbers of people. Between 1970 and 1990, Adams, Arapahoe and El Paso counties grew by 58

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over 400,000 voting age people (combined) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993 & 1984.) Growth is a serious issue in Colorado, because of the environmental and infrastructural problems it causes. Perhaps the political ramifications should not be ignored; just as streets, sewers and water lines must be built in new neighborhoods, so also must political institutions and connections. County organizations are often too slow to recognize the leadership opportunities and needs in new subdivisions and rapidly growing towns. High growth communities probably have fewer social institutions to reinforce positive voting behavior and new residents of these areas are less likely to feel connected to these local institutions and culture. There may be a selective mobilization going on as well. In some counties there may be a conscious decision not to attempt to mobilize new or traditionally hostile populations. County party operatives often have more to lose than to gain by organizing potential primary opponents or even unpredictable voters. On the other hand some growth counties do turn out very well. Boulder County has grown 97% since 1970, Jefferson County 126%, Douglas County 785% and Summit County 502%. Yet these counties sustain political participation of 75% (Boulder County), 70% (Jefferson County), 97% (Douglas County) and 83% (Summit County). Overall, there is virtually no correlation between growth and turnout and what little there is can possibly be explained by the three-year lapse between fmalized census data in 1989 and the 1992 election returns. There may be some evidence that 59

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growth does create political tensions in Colorado (Miller, 1999). Obviously, the effect of growth on political participation needs further exploration. Additionally, it is worth noting that all the counties with high poverty and strong turnout are not significantly globalized, all the high growth counties are arguably very globalized. Finally, in an unexpected result of this research, there were two counties (Hinsdale and Mineral) that stood out because voter turnout far exceeded 100% of voting age population. This discrepancy obviously raised questions. Through an interview with Hinsdale County Clerk Linda Ragle, I learned that there are a number of property owners who, though they don't live in the county, vote by absentee ballot. This process is almost certainly much more widespread than in just these two counties, and may inflate voter turnout in counties where second home ownership is prevalent. This issue is important, but tangential to this research. 22 Both in cases of excellent turnout and poor turnout, certain Colorado counties represent extreme cases and help highlight reasons why the relationships between education, absolute and relative poverty and political participation are weak. 22 See Appendix A for more details. 60

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CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION As Dirk Johnson says, in the economically robust 90's, the sting of scarcity is rubbed with a little extra salt. That salt is relative poverty. It is not necessarily about those we traditionally think of as poor; it is about those who are becoming disenfranchised by a political system that is too heavily intertwined within the economic system. The new global economy changes the power relationships between the working and capital classes. This should raise the incidence of relative poverty, particularly in the most advanced post-industrial economies. The best lesson I received in capitalism took place on my tour as I passed through Centralia, Illinois. Centralia is the home of the Pay Day candy bar. They've been making Pay Days there for over sixty years. Last year their factory turned in a $29 million profit. The day I arrived was their last payday. The plant manager told me that the giant food conglomerate that owns Pay Day had only bought the company so that it could make it look profitable and then sell it. Had Pay Day made double the profit it would have been sold sooner, he said. I asked him, What if the workers had produced an inferior candy bar and thus made a smaller profit? He said that the factory would still be in business and would have stayed open until the candy bar made the necessary profit. That bit of lunacy spoke volumes about the priorities of business in America these days. (Moore, 1997) The new balance of power between labor and capital in the global age imprints itself on the power structure of our democracy. The rules governing the 61

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capital markets ensure (enforce, even) that capital enriches itself at the expense of working people. More conservative theorists will suggest that this economic game is not zero-sum, as I assume here. The Pay Day workers in Centralia probably feel differently. Rousseau's contention that human inequality stems from property ownership is compelling. The more wealth we have to own, the farther we get from our "savage" state (as Rousseau calls it), the greater the level of inequality. The new global economy may be the next, more powerful manifestation of this. How much inequality is sustainable? Rousseau did not even ponder an answer to this question. No doubt, he could not have envisioned the level of inequality we see today. Perhaps, as long as working people get some part of the increasingly large pie, it is indefinitely sustainable. However, history says that when the pie stops growing--and it always stops growing at some point--economic inequality is not sustainable. If society is to remain stable, I believe that there must be some control of the widening class gap. A political system that serves only to protect the interests of the wealthiest classes and the perpetuation of their wealth at the expense of the working people cannot indefinitely sustain legitimacy. When our democratic system ceases to work for a sector of society, we should expect it to lose its legitimacy with that sector. Without question, the system has ceased to work for the absolutely poor. Government has demonized them as the problem, rather than the victims of a system that inevitably produces poverty as a 62

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byproduct. Wacquant even makes a strong case that the government has criminalized the consequences of being poor: Instead of instituting comprehensive schooling and job training measures, the state has responded to the rise in social disorientation and crime that has come along with the increased marginalization of ghetto youth with a de facto penal policy, i.e., by stepping up incarceration (Wacquant, 1995, pg. 430). More to the point here, however, is the question of whether the system has ceased to work for the relatively poor or whether the relatively poor perceive this as the case. If so, should we expect a growing sense of political isolation manifested through declining voter turnout? The influence of relative and absolute poverty on voter turnout is clearly less influential than expected by this author. I have presented a number of reasons why this is the case, including a number of anomalous counties, local political culture, growth and effective political leadership. None of these explanations is adequate in explaining why not only relative poverty, but also other, traditionally accepted, voter turnout variables do not correlate with voting in Colorado counties (e.g. education and household income). I feel it is important to show the flaws and limitations of the absolute poverty measure--the poverty line--in order to show that the use of an alternative measure, in this case relative poverty, might be useful. The poverty line is the predominant measure of class in academe and in policy formulation, a role I have no illusions about diminishing. However, I believe I make several important points about this 63

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statistic. The "poverty line" is rather anachronistic in that the conditions under which it was developed bear little resemblance to those today and fails to account for differences in cost of living. The application of the Engle's Coefficient obfuscates new economic realities, e.g. housing and transportation costs have escalated much faster than food and consequently make up much more of a family's budget than they did when the Engle's Coefficient was first applied over 50 years ago. This is not to say that the measure is not without its uses--it obviously is very important to establish a baseline subsistence level for families. However, I hope that this paper has made a case that absolute poverty is not the only measure that can be legitimately be used in the study of poverty. The hypothesis behind this research failed to be proven. In hindsight, I would suggest that a great deal of the blame for this failure might lie in a weak research design. It was a good learning experience and revealed a few interesting results and, I believe, a number of ways to improve the design when new data becomes available following the millennia} census: 1. It would be useful to confine the research to the Denver metropolitan area. Denver is the most significant globalized sector of the Colorado economy and it makes little sense to include areas like Mineral and Huerfano Counties in a study of the global economy's impact on voting behavior. 2. Calculation of the relative poverty threshold should be taken over the entire Denver metropolitan area as a single unit and not calculated 64

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individually by county. It is difficult to justify the extra complication of applying a formula to each county. 3. The basic formula needs to be re-configured to be able to control for potentially confounding variables such as age and race. 4. Ultimately, a thorough study would require a multiple regression analysis to isolate causal factors of voter turnout in Colorado. 23 The results of this examination have suggested that the theory behind relative poverty needs to be carefully considered. Simply abstracting relative poverty into units as artificial as a county is clearly problematic. The theoretical question that must be re-examined is at what geographic level people perceive their economic community. In the Denver metropolitan area, the perception of how one's position is relative is much more likely to be formed by a wider picture than simply their county. My experience here shows me that this theoretical question is central to the problem of showing the political effects of relative poverty. Abstracting the spatial dimension of relative poverty by arbitrarily using an artificial geographic boundary-the county--was a gross oversimplification. No doubt, great thought must be given to defining the "economic community" one uses in calculating relative poverty. 23 Preliminary investigations show that neither absolute nor relative poverty have much of an relationship with voter turnout. Only non-white population is a significant variable on turnout, and then only when divided into counties where non-white population is greater than and less than about 35%. In counties where non-white population is less than 35%, turnout is lower as non-white population gets higher. In counties where non-white population is greater than 35%, the greater the non-white population, the higher the turnout. 65

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Application should be purposive and understood in some depth. Some degree of abstraction is inevitable, as different perceptions of relative economic position differ between individuals. Purposive and specifically applied geographic boundaries will no doubt produce more satisfactory results. This probably precludes analysis on a statewide level, but may produce more telling results on local areas of specific interest (such as the Denver metropolitan area). However, there are perceptible results from the findings. For example, the excellent turnout in high poverty areas defies conventional wisdom. The influence of race on formal political participation exhibits characteristics in Colorado that raise interesting questions as well. Above-average turnout in counties densely populated with non-white population, increasing from counties with a non-white population of 35% contradicts the established writings on the subject of political participation. One explanation of turnout that exceeds expectations is political leadership. My personal experience tells me that political leadership has demonstrable effects on voter turnout. Political campaigns concentrate on turning out voters in strategic areas. By contacting voters, providing them with information and providing reminders on election day, a well organized campaign can increase voter turnout in certain geographical districts enough to sway the results of the election. Particularly in areas where numbers provide an opportunity to be successful, Latino/a voters apparently develop leadership that seizes upon the opportunity. 66

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Colorado counties that have higher non-white populations24 exhibit lower turnout-until the non-white population reaches over 35%. At this point, cmmties begin to show higher turnout for higher non-white population (see Figure 8.) This might suggest that when minority populations see an opportunity for electoral success, leaders organize their constituency to take advantage of the opportunity. More study clearly needs to be done, however, to substantiate such a possibility. If Reich, et al., are correct, we should expect to see relative poverty on the rise, particularly in urban areas and areas particularly influenced by the rise of the globaVpost-industrial economy. In Colorado between 1980-1990, relative poverty did not rise significantly in Colorado counties. By the 2000 Census we may see this changing. In any case, it seems that as of 1992 in Colorado there is little reason to believe that relative or absolute poverty is resulting in political isolation--so far. People in the most highly stratified counties seem to be, in many cases, just as apt to formally participate in the system as those in more equitable counties. It is clear from these results that either: 1) relative poverty has little effect on political behavior in Colorado or 2) research on relative poverty must be based on carefully conceived theory and methodology. The effects of relative poverty on voter 24 Statistically, "non-white" in Colorado means Latino/a. Denver is the exception, with the non-white populations being comprised of African American, Latino/ a and Native American populations. Outside the metropolitan area, however, the non-white population is Latino/ a with only a small percentage ofNative Americans (See Figure 7). 67

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turnout are intertwined with many other variables and the power of the relative poverty-voter turnout relationship is not strong. The cause of this weak relationship could be quite deep. Perhaps the effects of the global/post-industrial economy are not even perceptible, or are easily displaced, for example on foreign competition, minority populations or a small cabal of elites manipulating the country.25 It's a message echoed in much of society, from the zealous celebration of the stock market's rise (which benefits only the country's richest 10 percent) to what President Clinton brags is "the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history ... and the lowest peacetime unemployment since 1957. Never mind the slowly but steadily growing gap between rich and poor and a minimum wage that, to have its 1968 purchasing power, would need to be at least $7.45 per hour, instead of the current $5.15. A Gallup Poll reports that 78 percent of us are satisfied with our standard of living; 84 percent with the opportunities we have had to succeed. The message to any dissenter seems pretty clear: Times are good-what are you complaining about? (Wolter, 1999). There seems to be little enough dissent, whether this is the result of effective suppression of potential dissent, as W aquant or Gurr might argue, some sort of national ennui, or general contentment is difficult to say. Clearly, there is some dissent, including violent dissent, in America today. But isolation of voters from what is perceived as a system designed for the advantage of the wealthy has (directly 25 According to pollster Paul Talmey, quoted in Cronin & Loevy, in 1992 69% of Coloradans agree with the following statement: "Even though you almost never hear about them, there are a few really powerful people in the country who pretty much make all the important decisions about how the country is run." 68

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or indirectly) lead to the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, an alarming growth in hate movements and arson on Vail Mountain. Decline in economic democracy, that is, the value of relative social equality has led to a rising perception that political democracy is on the decline as well. Not from all, but clearly that is the perception some people have developed--and one that some politicians are openly courting. This first step towards the use of relative poverty as an influence on political behavior has been instructive for this author. For one thing, the results defied expectations and the conventional wisdom of other, more distinguished authors on the subject of political participation. Furthermore, I have found that relative poverty presents a theoretical and methodological enigma far more complex than I first perceived when developing the idea for this research project. My future work on this problem will be far less ambitious and confmed to a more concise geographical area. In a great number of ways, this project has raised a great many more questions than it has answered (if indeed it has answered any). Rather than a thesis that caps off an academic career, in many ways this one has become a first step. 69

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APPENDIX A "SECOND HOME" VOTERS INFLUENCE TURNOUT A couple of counties, notably Mineral and Hinsdale, exhibit a very curious electoral characteristic. Voter turnout in these counties is over (in Hinsdale County's case well over) 100% of the total voting age population. In 1992, the number of ballots cast in Hinsdale County was 127% of the number of voting age people in the county! Is this a case of vote fraud of massive proportions? Not exactly. For one thing, these are very small, mountain counties. The population of Hinsdale County in 1990 was a scant 467 people. Mineral was counted at only 558. It does not take a great deal of "extra" voters to inflate percentages. It is important to realize that while the 1992 election was two years following the census, neither of these counties grew sufficiently to suggest that natural growth is responsible for the "extra" voters. I spoke with Linda Ragle, County Clerk for Hinsdale County and she immediately said she had noted the same thing. She admitted that the nwnber of registered voters is much higher (780 registered voters in 1998) than the population of the county, but suggested that a large number of people who have summer residences in Hinsdale County register and vote by absentee ballot--especially Texans. These voters believe they have the right to vote because they own property within the 70

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county. This is, of course, not legally the case. Ms. Ragle said that her office lacked resources to check if these voters were also registered at their primary address, even if this were possible. In fact, it is not relevant, because Colorado law requires six months of residency as a qualification for voting--a requirement that is obviously loosely applied. Voting by absentee ballot in a different state than one resides is, of course, rational. These voters hope to hold down property taxes, which they pay, but from which do not see relative benefit. Clearly, however, if these voters are voting in another election district, voting by absentee ballot in Hinsdale County is illegal and immoral (Lockean property-rights arguments aside). I suggest that with today's technology, it would be relatively simple for the Secretary of State's Office to discover if Hinsdale County voters are registered and voting in another election district. Legislation should be enacted which requires more vigilance for absentee ballots that are mailed out of state. I further would argue that persons caught violating Colorado requirements should be vigorously prosecuted for vote fraud. Such voters undoubtedly decide issues that affect Hinsdale County voters and while it perhaps places an undue burden on the Hinsdale County Clerk to attempt to discover such vote fraud, likely there would be more vigilance if these votes worked to the partisan disadvantage of the Clerk. I discovered this anomaly by using a rather unconventional measure applied to a rather small county where the effects are simple 71

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to see, but in all probability this type of vote inflation is common in other, larger counties as well. While a bit tangential to this research, this problem does help explain why, especially in the mountainous areas of the state (where second home ownership is probably most common), voter turnout may be artificially inflated. It also is very important for activists in such counties to understand that voters from outside their county may influence local politics. I strongly suggest that progressive activists work with their county clerks and the Colorado Secretary of State to discover any voters who take advantage of the system to cast a second ballot. 72

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Montezuma Las Animas Baca

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Figure 1. 225)000 200)000 175)000 150)000 125)000 1oqooo 75)000 APPENDIXC GRAPHS real aninua:m incon1e of poor .. middtle class .. and rich hcluseholds .. .. .. .. -, 1966 doll.a:rs .. .. . . .. 1.967 96 :-... -_-_ ni d:ile 20% 25)000 p)crest 20% 1967 1971 1975 1979 1983 1987 1991 From Doug Henwood, The Left Business Observer, http://www.panix.com/-dhenwood/Stats_incpov.html 74 1995

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Figure 2. !! ca a: Turnout vs. Relative Poverty 40.0% -r-----------------------------, 35.0% +------------------------------1 30.0% +-----..-------=------------------....:::.....-----1 .. 25.0% +----.... .... -=.---1;.,_.---------::.:---.-----------------1 i I I rf/IIJ --R2=0.0004 Ill. ... .. R2 = 0.0026 .... .__.., 20.0% ... .--.-----------1 I 15.0% 10.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0% 100.0% 110.0% 120.0% 130.0% 140.0% Turnout 1990 1980 -Linear (1990)- Linear (1980) I 75

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Figure 3. Turnout vs. Absolute Poverty 40.0% ,.------------------------------, 35.0% 30.0% ._ 20.0% -1-------=----r-----;-------------------1 0 11. ... I 0.0% +. ----.,.-------.-----.,-----.--------,--..-----i 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% 100.0% Turnout 120.0% 140.0% 160.0% 1990 1980 A 1970 -Linear(1990) -Linear{1980)--Linear{1970) I 76

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Figure 4. Turnout and Education 120.0%.-------------------------------, 80.0% t-----" 40.0% +------r-::------1---.... ------------:;;r--' .. "'-------l .. .. .. .. .. .. O.OOAt 40.0% 60.0"k 80.0% 100.0"k 120.0% 140.0% 160.0% Turnaul HS Grad, 1960 College Grad, 1980 ... HS Grad, 1990 Collage Grad, 1990 -unear (HS Grad, 1980) -Unear (College Grad, 1980) -unear (HS Grad, 1990) . Linear (College Grad, 1990) 78

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Figure 5. '5 0 E Turnout vs. Household Income 140.0% r---------------------------, 120.0% +-----------------------------l 100.0% +-----------,.,.--------------------1 80.0% .... .---------------l . ... -. : .t .. 60.0% .... .... 11'---;;;;,---------------l 40.0% 1---------------------------t 20.0% +-----------------------------l 0.0% +-------,-----.----..------,------.------l $$10,000 $20,000 $30,000 $40,000 $50,000 $60,000 Household Income Turnout 1992 -Linear (Turnout 1992) I 79

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Figure 6. Turnout 1996 General Denver City Council Districts 70.00% .--------------------------------. 60.00% r-------------------------------1 50.00% r-------------------------------1 ....... ....... ... ....... ....... -.. ....... .. .. -....... .. .. .. .. .. .. <> ... 0.00% +-. ---r------.----r---.------,-----,---,---.--,------,.----l 46.0% 47.0% 48.0% 49.0% 50.0% 51.0% 52.0% 53.0% 54.0% 55.0% 56.0% 57.0% Turnout <4> Poverty Black --Linear (Poverty) Linear (Black) 80 6 Latino/a -Linear (Latino/a)

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Figure 7. 0.0% 10.0% Non-White Population Colorado Counties A-K 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% NchuleL! Denver Douglas BPaso Fremont Garfiel d Gtlpin Grand Gunnison Heurtano Hinsdale Jetlerson Kiowa Kil Carson 81 70.0% 60.0% 90.0%

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Figure 7. 0.0% La Plata Lake Larimer Las Animas Lincoln Logan Mesa Mineral Moffat Montezuma Montrose Morgan Otero Ouray Park Phillips Pitkin Prowers Pueblo Rio Blanco Rio Grande Routt Saguache San Juan SanMiguel Sedgwick Summit Teller Washington Weld Yuma 5.0% Non-White Population Colorado Counties LY 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 82 30.0% 35.0%

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Figure 8. 140.0% 130.0% 120.0% 110.0% 100.0% '5 0 E 90.0% ::l ... 80.0% 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% .. r. ... . ... .: Turnout 1992 .... ... ... 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0% Non-White Population 83

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