Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Disparity and Democrats, Parity and 'Publicans

Republicans are for the rich, Democrats are for the poor. Isn't that the putative conventional wisdom? I first stumbled across a challenge to that idea in Ann Coulter's partisan but interesting Slander. Instead, she claims the extremes (impoverished and very affluent) are Democratic strongholds, while the middle-class is a Republican bastion. After reading an article by the perspicacious genius, Steve Sailer, highlighting the stark differences between California and Utah in terms of educational attainment, running the whole country by state became irresistible.

It turns out Sailer was spot on, but Coulter's analysis is not so certain. Using 2004 Presidential election voter share data for Bush and Kerry by state and 2003 Census data, I looked at three potential factors and how they correlated with voter choice: Education (less than a high-school diploma, between high school diploma and just short of bachelor's degree, and bachelor's degree and beyond), income (median income as a percentage of mean income), and population density.

A quick refresher: The median is the middle number in a distribution. The mean is what we tend to think of as the "average" (although both are measures of averages). For example, in a town with five people who have incomes of $9, $15, $16, $18, and $100 the median income is $16 (the middle value) while the mean is (9+15+16+18+102)/5=$32. The large disparity between the median and the mean shows that income is spread out (median income is only 50% of mean income). If the distribution had been $20, $20, $20, $20, $20, then the median and mean would be the same ($20), and thus median income would be 100% of mean income. So as median income increases as a percentage of mean income, the more economically equitable the state becomes.

I found the greater the proportion of a state's population having at least a high school diploma but not a bachelor's degree or beyond, the more likely that state was to vote for Bush. And the correlation was pretty strong (a correlation of .65). Also, I found that the higher median income was as a percentage of mean income (parity), the greater chance a state was to go for Bush, although the correlation was a more modest .39. In the social sciences, a correlation of .2 is considered "low", .4 is "medium", and .6 is "high". Both were stastically significant (meaning the correlations were real and not the result of random chance). When both high-school but not bachelor's and median/mean income were regressed against Bush vote share, the correlation inched up to .70, although the P-value for median/mean income was .3 (meaning it was scarcely an underlying factor), while for education the P-value was zero. The more densely populated a state, the more likely it was to vote for Kerry, with a correlation of .67. Population density was also correlated (.63) with income and educational disparity. Put all three variables in against Bush votes, and the correlation shoots up to .77 with each variable statistically significant. However, median/mean income became negatively correlated to Bush's share of the vote. Pulling income out of the mix, the correlation dips a bit to .75.

Income is confounding--although income parity favors Republicans when looking at the nation as a whole, if the other variables are added in it appears detrimental to them. The best answer is that income disparity has little to do with how a state votes. Standing alone it correlated weakly (.39) for Bush; adding it to the other variables (education and population density) only raised the correlation .04 (albeit against Bush). It is related to both educational disparity and high population densities, and thus is basically a repitive measure that is not as effective a predictor as the other two.

To summarize (in English): educational inequality and people packed in like sardines are good for the Democratic party. Giving people their space and insuring they are intellectually on a level playing field is the ticket for Republicans. It validates a few images many hold: People in Montana going through high school and then staying in their sparsely populated communities or going off to a local community college. Few urban areas or family breakdown to facilitate high dropout rates, but not a slew of doctorate-level positions being offered either. Montana went for Bush 59%-39%. On the flip, take DC: Lots of high-earning professionals, lobbyists, politicians, etc out there living in their gated communities. And even more unskilled indigent street-wanderers taking your camera or asking for beer change. No room for a ride across the prairie, with a nation-high 9,316 people per square mile. DC went for Kerry 90%-9%.

Perhaps economic equity is a political motivation for No Child Left Behind? Maybe, but that hardly offsets the obvious self-immolation the Republican party is partaking in by allowing mass immigration of low-skilled immigrants with an average educational attainment equivalent to the 8th grade. Meanwhile, college graduation rates are hitting new record highs. The paper, however, is not going to Hispanics (from a 2003 US Census release):
Among races, Asians had the highest proportion of college graduates at 50 percent. About 30 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 17 percent of blacks had a
least a bachelor’s degree. In 1993, 24 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12
percent of blacks were college graduates. Hispanics with high school diplomas
rose from 53 percent in 1993 to 57 percent. About 11 percent had bachelor’s
degrees, up from 9 percent.
The economy of the future is knowledge-based--the trend towards growing educational extremes is going to exacerbate the gap between those who can and those who cannot succeed. Even with a slew of soft degrees like ethnic studies, philosophy of history, sociology, women's studies, and anything else that mandates a vehement hatred of the male WASP but not quantative work, Hispanics are not going to move that number up much. And, of course, the country is becoming more crowded. Homogenuity is a Republican ally that is being thrown by the wayside. It looks pretty good for the Democrats. If you're starting to get that sinking feeling about Hillary in 2008 and then again in 2012... Email or write to Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and encourage him to seek the GOP ticket in '08.

1 comment:

crush41 said...

If by chance you are interested in the data analysis, please let me know via email and I'll be happy to send it to you (it is an Excel file).