Who wins in a contest between the red and blue states in the US?
The red states would marginally edge out the blue states. Of the 4 fundamental strengths of the US – massive inland waterways, energy security, food security and innovation ecosystem [universities & labs] – three of the strengths are derived from the red states.
The red states have the advantage of a near complete control of thesystem and most of its population in contiguous area [ignoring Alaska]. The civil war of 1860s was primarily centered on this river system as losing Louisiana means losing a lot more than what people imagine. The Port of South Louisiana alone handles more tonnage than New York and Los Angeles water ports put together.
Blue states are often water dependent on the red states & also have to deal with managing population on two different ends of the continent. Pakistan had this arrangement with its two halves on two sides of India, until the eastern half broke apart to form the nation of Bangladesh.
While the Long Beach and New York ports are massive and handle a lot of the international trade, in terms of raw tonnage, the port capacities of the red state ports are hard to rival.
Most of the US oil production is also in the red states and energy security has been a fundamental pillar of US foreign policy through the past few decades.
Here is the deal:
Universities & education: Blue wins
International relationship: Blue wins
Financial system: Blue wins
Urban centers: Blue wins
Ports and waterways: Red wins
Oil production and mining: Red wins
Freshwater: Red wins
Food production: Red wins
Contiguous border: Red wins
Access to oceans: Tie [Red has Alaskan access to the Pacific and Gulf access to the Atlantic]
In terms of standard of living, there will be pluses on both sides. Blue states have the disadvantage of being more unequal. Somewhat ironically, Blue states are more likely to be unequal than the Red states.
Blue states are also more expensive and with fairly poorer/congested roads than the red ones. The difference in standard of living is one reason why the migration is more from Blue to Red than vice versa:
There was a series on NYTimes that documents even more advantages of the Red states/counties, such as