Geography, Income, and Voters
           Explanations and Implications
 Election 2008: What Really Happened?




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Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State Why Americans Vote The Way They Do

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Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State Why Americans Vote The Way They Do

  1. 1. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations and Implications Election 2008: What Really Happened? Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State Why Americans Vote the Way They Do Andrew Gelman Dept of Statistics and Dept of Political Science, Columbia University 8 June 2009 1/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  2. 2. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations and Implications Election 2008: What Really Happened? The Book 2/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  3. 3. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations and Implications Election 2008: What Really Happened? Polarization: The Red and the Blue 3/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  4. 4. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations and Implications Election 2008: What Really Happened? Polarization: The Haves and Have-Nots 4/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  5. 5. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? The New Upscale Democratic Party? 5/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  6. 6. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Red and Blue States 2004 election 6/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  7. 7. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Rich States are More Democratic . . . Republican vote by state in 2004 UT 70% WY ID NE OK Vote share for George Bush ND KS AK AL SD IN TX MS MT SCKY GA WV LA TN NC AR AZ MO VA FL CO 50% NV NM IA OH WI PA NH OR MI MN DE WA NJ ME HI IL CA CT MD VT RI NY MA 30% $20,000 $30,000 Average income within state 7/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  8. 8. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? . . . But Rich People are More Republican! Bush vote in 2004 by income 2006 House exit polls 70% 70% South Vote share for Bush Republican vote share Midwest 50% 50% West Northeast 30% 30% 0 $100,000 $200,000 low middle high Individual income Income 8/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  9. 9. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? David Brooks and Maryland “Like upscale areas everywhere, from Silicon Valley to Chicago’s North Income and voting in Maryland counties 100% Shore to suburban Connecticut, Montgomery County supported Vote share for George Bush 75% the Democratic ticket by a margin of 63 percent to 34 percent.” 50% “In Red America churches are everywhere. In Blue America 25% Montgomery Thai restaurants are everywhere. In Red America they have QVC, Baltimore 0% the Pro Bowlers Tour, and hunting. $20,000 $40,000 $60,000 $80,000 In Blue America we have NPR, Median household income within county Doris Kearns Goodwin, and socially conscious investing.” 9/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  10. 10. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Starbucks and Walmart Wal−Marts per capita Starbucks per capita 10/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  11. 11. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Counterexample: Texas Income and voting in Texas counties 100% Vote share for George Bush 75% Collin 50% Austin 25% Zavala 0% $20,000 $40,000 $60,000 $80,000 Median household income within county 11/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  12. 12. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? The Key to the Answer: Context Matters How wealthy you are is associated with how you vote (and think) But how much it does depends on where you live — context matters In some states the rich are very different from the poor but not in other states Texas and Maryland 12/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  13. 13. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Anna Karenina and the Paradox Resolved McCain vote by income in a poor, middle−income, and rich state 75% Miss. Probability of voting for McCain Ohio 50% Conn. 25% (poor) (rich) Voter's income 13/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  14. 14. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? What if Only X Voted? 14/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  15. 15. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? How Some Journalists See the Country “One of the Republican Party’s major successes over the last few decades has been to persuade many of the working poor to vote for tax breaks for billionaires.” — Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist “Who are the trustfunders? People with enough money not to have to work for a living, or not to have to work very hard. These people tend to be very liberal politically. . . . ” — Michael Barone, author of the Almanac of American Politics 15/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  16. 16. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? The New Working-Class Republicans? 16/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  17. 17. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Whassup with Kansas? Kansas 80% 2004 Kansas 2000 Vote for Bush 60% 40% low mid high Individual income 17/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  18. 18. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Pauline Kael and Availability Bias “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anybody who voted for him.” — attributed to Pauline Kael, movie critic for the New Yorker Availability bias: the tendency to generalize based on nearby information 18/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  19. 19. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Michael Barone and Availability Bias “It evidently irritates many liberal liberals to point out that their People party gets heavy support from you know superaffluent ‘people of fashion’ and does not run very well among ‘the common people.’” The average poor — Michael Barone rich American Second-order availability bias: generalizing from observed correlations People you don't know ?? The people you know are high-income and vote conservative Democratic. Therefore . . . 19/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  20. 20. Geography, Income, and Voters The Paradox Explanations and Implications Journalists Get It Wrong (and Right) Election 2008: What Really Happened? Polarization is real Entire U.S. Voters House Senate (liberal) (conservative) Ideological Position 20/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  21. 21. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data 30 Years Ago, Things Were Different Republican vote by state in 1976 1976 election 70% Vote share for Gerald Ford UT ID NE WY AZ VT NH CO MT ND IN KS MI NVCT 50% NM ME WA NJ IL CA SD OK VA OHOR IA MS TX MO WIPA HI KYLA FL DENY MD NC AL TN SC RI MN WV MA AR GA 30% $15,000 $20,000 Average income within state 21/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  22. 22. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Incomplete Explanations for the Change in State Vote Is it rich people who are changing? No. We showed that in the beginning. Is it race? Mostly no. Excluding blacks from the analysis diminishes the effects we see only partly. Is it the South? No. We see the effects in the South and outside of it. Is it inequality? No. Interstate income inequality has changed little, and intrastate income inequality is more tied to immigration trends. 22/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  23. 23. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Our Explanation I The poor are similar in Red and Blue America, but the rich are different. We’ve looked at voting. Now look at attitudes on economic and social issues. 23/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  24. 24. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Economic and Social Attitudes of Rich and Poor Average ideologies of different groups of voters conservative Middle Republican States Poor voters Rich voters Average score on social issues Middle Poor voters Battleground States moderate Poor voters Rich voters Middle Democratic States liberal Rich voters liberal moderate conservative Average score on economic issues 24/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  25. 25. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Our Explanation II Voters haven’t changed within states—and states haven’t changed much either, but parties have. Parties are more polarized than they’ve ever been. Democratic and Republican voters are (slightly) more ideologically distinct Positions by elites are more uniform than they’ve been in the past. The end of Rockefeller Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats. Wealthy people in rich, blue states are conflicted in their party choice; hence the flat slope. Wealthy people in poor, red states are not conflicted in their party choice; hence the high slope. 25/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  26. 26. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Culture Wars and Polarization “Sometimes I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea.” — Barry Goldwater “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” — Rodney King 26/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  27. 27. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data “Opiate of the Masses” vs. “Postmaterialism” “I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.” — George H. W. Bush “Very few of us . . . could name even five NASCAR drivers, although stock-car races are the best-attended sporting events in the country.” — David Brooks Two theories: Opiate of the masses: Rich people vote their interests, poor people vote “Gods, guns, and gays.” Postmaterialism: Poor people vote based on economics, rich people have the luxury to vote on social issues. 27/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  28. 28. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data “Opiate” No, “Postmaterialism” Yes Bush vote in 2004 by income and religious attendance 70% if you attend church more Probability of voting for Bush than once/week 60% if you attend once or twice/month 50% if you never attend church 40% poor middle−income rich 28/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  29. 29. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Similar Patterns in Red and Blue America Republican States Battleground States Democratic States regular church 0.75 regular church occasional regular church church Pr(Bush) occasional 0.50 church occasional never church church never church 0.25 never church Low Middle High Low Middle High Low Middle High Income Income Income 29/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  30. 30. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Economic/Social Ideology and Income/Relig Attend, by State Economic ideology and income Economic ideology and religious attendance MS 0.2 AR AL LAOK Within−state correlation WV UT SDNC SC TN GA KY TX NM ND IANE MI KS MO IN FL OH MTID AZ WY DE ILCO WI RI MN ME OR PAVACA MD 0.1 WA VT NV NHNY MA CT VT NH WA MEMT OR NV AZ ID NM CA WYFLWI WV OK MA CO RIDE IANE SDTNAR MS NY OH ND UT MI INKS KYLAAL PA MOGANC CT MDMN TX SC ILVA −0.1 0.0 Social ideology and income Social ideology and religious attendance VT MT OR NH WA CO ID ME NV CAAZ RI WYFL MA NY NMMIA 0.2 WI ND OH WV Within−state correlation MI IN UT DE N KSOK PA MOTX IL CT MD VANEGASDTNAR NCSC KYLAAL MS 0.1 MS AR WV AL LA UT OK SC TN KY NM ID SDNC 0.0 ND IAKS MO INTX GA OH MT ME NE MI FL WI WY VA AZ OR NVMN VT RI DE ILCO PA WANH CA MD −0.1 MA NY CT $25,000 $35,000 2.5 3.0 3.5 State income State religious attendance 30/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  31. 31. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Takeaway Points Polarization, stereotyping, and the red-blue divide Statistics is too important to be left to the statisticians! What’s the matter with Connecticut? If you want to understand the differences between states, study the wealthy. The culture war is real but is concentrated among upper-income voters. It’s easy to get confused: “media center” states don’t look like the rest of the country. 31/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  32. 32. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data End—Time for Your Questions 32/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  33. 33. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Putting It Together Rich−state, poor−state gap in Republican vote among poor, middle−income, and rich voters 20% Republican vote in poor states, minus r s Republican vote in rich states te vo e om nc −i 10% gh rs Hi te vo e m inco le− idd M oters me v 0% inco Low− 1952−1968 1972−1988 1992−2004 33/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  34. 34. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Race Explains Half the Pattern Whites only: Rich−state, poor−state gap in Republican vote among poor, middle−income, and rich voters 20% Republican vote in poor states, minus rs te Republican vote in rich states vo r s e te it vo wh ite e wh om 10% e nc om −i nc gh e −i Hi dl rs id ote M ev hit ew c om −in 0% w Lo 1952−1968 1972−1988 1992−2004 34/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  35. 35. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Religion and State Income MS 3.5 Average State Religious Attendance AR AL LA SC TN UTKY OK NC SD GA TX KS NE WV ND MO IAIN 3.0 VA MN OH PA WI IL MI DE NM FL MD ID RI NJ WY CT AZ CO NY MT CA OR WA MA 2.5 ME NV NH VT $25,000 $35,000 Average State Income 35/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  36. 36. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Inequality in the States States with high and low income inequality 36/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  37. 37. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Polarized Parties: Foreign Policy Partisan disagreement over the Iraq war 100% Percentage supporting the war Republicans 75% 50% Independents 25% Democrats 0% 2003 2004 2005 2006 37/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  38. 38. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Polarized Parties: Foreign Policy Support for Korean war Support for Vietnam war 100% Percentage supporting the war 75% Democrats Democrats 50% Republicans Republicans 25% 0% 1951 1952 1966 1968 1970 38/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  39. 39. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Polarized Parties: Domestic Policy 39/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  40. 40. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Polarization in Red, Purple, and Blue States Republican Voters states Senate House Battleground Voters states House Senate Senate Democratic states Voters House (liberal) (conservative) Ideological Position 40/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  41. 41. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Other Countries: Income and Voting Asia and Oceania 25% South Korea Conservative vote share among rich, minus conservative vote share among poor Australia Taiwan New Zealand Japan 0 Hong Kong Israel Europe 25% Czech Finland Poland Romania Sweden Bulgaria Spain ItalyGermany Denmark Netherlands Norway Slovenia United Kingdom Iceland 0 Ukraine Russia Portugal Belgium Switzerland Hungary France Ireland North and South America 25% Peru United States Chile Mexico Canada 0 Brazil 0 20,000 40,000 GDP per capita 41/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  42. 42. Geography, Income, and Voters Explanations Explanations and Implications Opiate of the Elites Election 2008: What Really Happened? Supplementary Data Other Countries: Income, Religion, and Voting Ukraine Bulgaria Russia Romania Brazil 25% −25% 0 Poland Hungary Czech Mexico Slovenia 25% −25% 0 Conservative vote, compared to national average Portugal Korea New Zealand Israel Italy 25% −25% 0 Belgium Australia France Germany Netherlands 25% −25% 0 Britain Ireland Sweden Hong Kong Denmark 25% −25% 0 Iceland Switzerland Norway United States Japan 25% −25% 0 Poor Rich Poor Rich Poor Rich Poor Rich Poor Rich 42/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  43. 43. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Election 2008: What Really Happened? National election returns State-by-state election returns Race, age, income Pre-election polls Congressional elections 43/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  44. 44. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Obama Did as Well as Expected Forecasting elections from the economy Income growth Incumbent party’s share of the popular vote Johnson vs. Goldwater (1964) more than 4% Reagan vs. Mondale (1984) Nixon vs. McGovern (1972) 3% to 4% Humphrey vs. Nixon (1968) Eisenhower vs. Stevenson (1956) Stevenson vs. Eisenhower (1952) 2% to 3% Gore vs. Bush, Jr. (2000) Bush, Sr. vs. Dukakis (1988) Bush, Jr. vs. Kerry (2004) Ford vs. Carter (1976) 1% to 2% Clinton vs. Dole (1996) Nixon vs. Kennedy (1960) 0% to 1% Bush, Sr. vs. Clinton (1992) Carter vs. Reagan (1980) negative 45% 50% 55% 60% 44/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  45. 45. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections The Polls Did Well 45/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  46. 46. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections National Partisan Swing 46/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  47. 47. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Swings are More National Than Before 47/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  48. 48. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Whites and Minorities 48/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  49. 49. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Young and Old 49/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  50. 50. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Rich and Poor 50/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  51. 51. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Rich and Poor, by State 51/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  52. 52. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Religious and Secular 52/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  53. 53. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Comparing votes for President and Congress 53/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
  54. 54. Geography, Income, and Voters Election Returns Explanations and Implications Demographics Election 2008: What Really Happened? Congressional Elections Further Questions? 54/54 Andrew Gelman Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State

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