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Just saw this one shared on Facebook by Occupy Democrats with 79k+ likes. It's a repost of this by Less Than 10 Dollars an Hour.

Image of house in very bad shape with text

Text reads:

Today's Bit of Irony

Owsley County, Kentucky

Is 99.22% White and 95% Republican

It has the Highest Usage Of SNAP Benefits In the USA

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Hmmm ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owsley_County,_Kentucky and bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-14/… give different statistics on how white the county is. –  Andrew Grimm Feb 2 at 1:02
4  
What's SNAP? As an Italian I never heard SNAP, thank you. –  Carlo_R. Feb 2 at 1:11
1  
@Carlo_R.: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program also known as food stamps –  Henry Feb 2 at 1:27
1  
@Andrew: Wikipedia uses the number of "whites" in the 2000 cencus. Bloomberg quotes the number of "non-Hispanic whites" in the 2012 cencus. Even if the numbers are slightly off, they may very well both be correct. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Feb 2 at 1:33
    
The Bloomberg article also says the county "has the largest proportion of food stamp recipients among those that he [Mitt Romney] carried" rather than among all counties. It is unclear whether that was a deliberate distinction. –  Henry Feb 2 at 1:35

3 Answers 3

Unless there are more recent statistics on SNAP usage than the official statistics available from the US Department of Agriculture or someone has a very creative definition of "highest useage", the statement is false. If we go back a few years, the statistics may however back the claim.

In the statistics, there are two different values, which both could be described as "usage" in a colloquial language. One value is the ratio of the population receiving SNAP benefits, the other value being the average benefit amount per inhabitant.

If we take a look at the latest statistics from 2010, 52.08% of the population in Owsley County received SNAP benefits, ranking Owsley behind Shannon County, SD (59.33%), Todd County, SD (55.08%) and Wade Hampton, AK (54.13%). If we go back to 2008 and earlier, Owsley County was indeed in the "lead", but the three other counties passed Owsley in 2009 when it comes to number of recipients per population count.

If we look at the average payment per inhabitant, Owsley is even further down the list. The statistic contains however some very strange numbers, which seem erroneous to me. E.g. Hopewell City, VA with a population count of 22655 allegedly received $243,376,900 in SNAP benefits in 2010, making an average monthly payment per inhabitant of $895.23, or per participant of $3,051.67.

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So would it be correct if this dated back to 2008? –  Evan Carroll Feb 2 at 4:11
1  
@Evan: It depends on how you interpret "usage". In 2008, Owsley County had the highest number of SNAP recipients per population. The average benefit amount per inhabitant was however higher in many other counties. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Feb 2 at 4:30

There's another issue this question doesn't address: the 95 percent Republican part of the equation.

There are 3497 registered voters in the county; 917 are Democrats; 67 are neither GOP or D. That makes the registered voters in the county about a quarter registered Democrats. In 2012 election, about 17.9 percent of those who cast ballots voted for Obama.

The number of voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2012 must be considered as a subset of the number of people who voted, not as a percentage of the population as a whole.

See registration information and election results at the Kentucky Secretary of State's website (and stop sharing flawed memes on social media, ugh):

2012 Presidential election results: http://elect.ky.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/Election%20Results/2010-2019/2012/2012genresults.pdf

Kentucky registration by county:

http://elect.ky.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/Election%20Results/2010-2019/2012/statcnty.txt

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Summing up: MOSTLY TRUE,

There are three claims here,

  1. Claims of whiteness: 99.2% is correct for the 2000 census. (The city became slightly more diverse in 2010 dropping to 96.2% white.)
  2. Claims of snap-usage: the actual claim to having the highest usage (percent of population) of snap benefits is correct for the year 2008. See Tor's answer below. I also think given the proximity to a claim about Republican votership it makes more sense to interpret this in the terms of percentage of the population. Why would it make a otherwise make a material difference if they received the most in SNAP benefits but it all went to one person? The point of the graphic is to raise the point of people voting against their interest which is why it was shared on Occupy -Democrats-, and titled "Today's Bit of Irony".
  3. Claims of percentage Republican: it's incorrect for any year. In 2008 for instance, %75.9 voted for the Republican ticket. In 2012 that number went up a bit, 81.88% casted a vote for the Republican ticket. It's a gross super majority either way, but it's not a 95% majority. In 2008, 75% were registered Republicans. Currently as of 2014-01-23, it's 70%.

So had the percentage of Republicans been 76% rather than 95% I'd have said it was true. As it sits, it's only MOSTLY TRUE.

And, the graphic doesn't seem to be from the county, but I kind of figured it was a stock image anyway.

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Re: Claim 3; how does voter registration break down, rather than turnout? –  LessPop_MoreFizz Feb 5 at 2:05
    
@LessPop_MoreFizz updated. –  Evan Carroll Feb 5 at 23:23

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