I found this interesting, coming to me by way of the CJR Campaign Desk. Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: November 07, 2004 - November 13, 2004 Archives
A few years ago, before the 2000 election, I did a lot of research for what I thought might be a long article or a book on the cultural and social distinctiveness of what we now call Blue and Red America. One motivating interest of mine at the time was a widespread perception in at least a segment of elite public opinion that the Red States were the source of the country’s moral ballast....
The oddity of this Red State moralism argument emerges most clearly when you look at statistics for virtually every form of quantifiable social dysfunction. Divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, poverty, murder, incidence of preventable disease --- go down the list and you’ll see that they are all highest in the reddest states and lowest in the bluest.
There are exceptions certainly --- the Prairie states being the key examples. But the pattern is striking and consistent.