Republicans and Democrats battle it out over whether the red model or the blue model is more likely to produce prosperity. Republicans tout Tennessee and Texas. Democrats cite Washington state and Massachusetts. But there is another economic dividing line that isn’t partisan or strategic. It’s a line based on geography.

Since Kevin Phillips coined the term “Sun Belt” in the late 1960s, it’s been widely known that population and job growth have largely flowed to the South and West. The rest of the country has not fared nearly as well. The area we might label the “Old North,” a 23-state region spanning the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast, as well as some border states like Kentucky, has consistently lagged the rest of the country. In essence, half of our states have prospered, the other half have struggled. Statistically, only one Old North state,…

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