How Red and Blue States Split on Green: We Spend Differently

Money habits
Money habits

"There are no red states or blue states, just the United States," Barack Obama memorably declaimed at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

In that speech, which instantly thrust the then-U.S. Senate candidate onto the national stage, Obama painted a picture of an America where Republicans and Democrats share more common ground than not.

Politically, that notion now seems questionable, at best -- and it clearly doesn't hold up when it comes to our online shopping patterns. There's a notable divide in the online spending and bill-paying habits of shoppers in conservative and liberal states, according to data released by, which creates apps designed to help consumers save time and money while shopping or paying bills online.

Red States Pay More Bills Online

For one, people in red states pay more of their bills online than those in blue states, and and their overall online bill payments are higher than those of their blue state brethren, Billeo's research found.

Red states cities with the highest online bill payments on an annual, per user basis, include Chandler, Ariz. ($16,448), Arlington Texas ($10,396), Montgomery, Ala. ($9,562), Katy, Texas ($8,159), and Corpus Christi, Texas ($6,995).

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By contrast, Tacoma, Wash., the blue state city with the highest average online bill payments, had an annual per user payment of $11,400 -- $5,400 less than Chandler. Overall, red staters average $7,480 in online bill payments, compared to $7,070 for blue staters.

"There are multiple factors at play here, but the largest seems to be that consumers that live in red states may be more comfortable with online banking and bill paying, and therefore are more likely to pay bills online," Murali Subbarao, CEO of Billeo, tells DailyFinance.

Interesting to note, however: The average size of the individual bills being paid online is higher in blue states.

While red state residents might pay more of their bills online, blue state consumers are slightly bigger e-commerce shoppers. Blue state city Madison, Wash., ranked No. 1 in online spending, with an annual per user spend of $2,243. That's $210 less than the $2,033 annual per user spend in Tucson, Ariz., the red state city with the greatest propensity for online shopping. The average across blue states: $944; in red states: $911.

The reason: "Blue staters seem more comfortable shopping online for higher priced items online," Subbarao suggests.

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Red States Buy Video Games, Blue States Buy Books

Red state folks are also buying different stuff than the blue state crowd.

Red states spend 39% more on home improvement, and 16% more on video games, toys and hobbies.

Meanwhile, blue states spend 39% more on travel and vacations, and 11% more on books, music and movies.

The purchasing divide likely echoes the lifestyle differences between conservative and liberal shoppers, Subbarao says.

"Based on the numbers we saw, consumers who live in red states are homebodies -- spending more money on things they can do around the house: home improvement, toys and video games to play at home," he says. "While consumers who live in blue states spend more on things that take them away from home and get them out and about, [like] travel and vacations, movies and event tickets."