Thursday, December 13, 2007

Demographic profile of US' 100 most influential liberals and conservatives

++Addition++Steve Sailer weighs in, and his legion of commenters offer even more food for thought.

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The Daily Telegraph of the UK came up with a list of the top 100 most influential 'conservatives' and 'liberals' in the US earlier this year. After going through it, I realized that either I'm out of the loop or the Beltway folks (and the media correspondents in Washington that report on them) are out of touch.

Dick Cheney is more influential than President Bush? Than Condi? Still? He can't show his face anymore, if he is even still alive. When was the last time you heard about him doing or saying anything? His hawkish stance on Iran isn't going anywhere.

Larry Craig has influence? He didn't before the airport tryst was exposed, and he has even less sway now. Laura Ingraham over Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, both of whom have millions more listeners (and Hannity has a TV show as well) than she does? Mississippi's Governor at #18, ahead of the President? Elizabeth Edwards over her husband, a Presidential candidate? Obama's wife (quickly, what is her name?) over Steny Hoyer, who is House majority leader and has been a Congressman for the last quarter-century?

Okay, enough of my quipping.

The methodology isn't even disclosed, so speculating on how or why the players were ranked as they are is purely conjecture. But the names on the lists have face validity, even if the specific rankings do not. So who are they?

It took longer than I'd expected to gather basic demographic information on them. The liberal side is especially difficult to find information on, presumably from a relative lack of scrutiny from media sources.

The Protestant-Catholic split among those of Christian heritage should be taken as an estimate--if nothing turned up, I looked to ethnicity and ancestry, then to names, visual images, and failing that finally assumed Protestant (for about 15 of the 200 a best guess is substituted for certainty).

In cases of Christian conversion, the 'final decision' was used (since mention of conversion presumes it is important in the person's worldview). Erik Prince of Blackwater, for example, was raised Dutch Reformed but converted to Catholicism in adulthood. Judaism, however, is determined by birth. Consequently, the percentages add up to a little over 100% for the section covering nominal religious identification.

Only avowed atheists who've given themselves that description were counted as such. Others, many of whom are surely only nominal members of a religious organization, are still counted as representing that religious grouping.

In a few cases (four conservatives, five liberals) age is estimated as well, based on when the person's career started. I presumed about 24 years prior to that point, using pictures as an aid).

Sexual orientation is assumed heterosexual unless there is reason to suspect otherwise.

The occupation categories are pretty broad. The section captures what makes them influential today, not what brought them into the limelight in the past (Howard Dean, now head of the DNC, is classified as a "Moneyman" rather than as a "Politician"). "Political fiends" work for political parties and/or politicians but do not actually hold political office themselves, with the exception of those who primarily work to raise funds for causes, even if those causes are primarily political (and sponsored by a political party) in nature.

"Activist" is a catch-all that characterizes people like Al Gore and Cindy Sheehan who have star power behind them but not an official position or job that gives them notoriety, and also those who were politically involved at one time, like Colin Powell, but who don't do much of anything influential today other than leveraging the prestige of their pasts to bring attention to their contemporary causes and positions. Additionally, spouses of prominent figures who are not in positions of power themselves are counted (Michelle Obama, for example).

In the cases where a person could qualify under multiple occupational labels, the one for which he is most well-known is used. For example, Bill O'Reilly is classified under "television" although he is also a powerful radio presence.

"Scholarship" can be further broken down into "historian", "academic", or "scientist", but the category is already small when it is this broadly defined. Victor Davis Hanson and Noam Chomsky are included under the heading.

The Wyly brothers, who are for this purpose demographically identical with the exception of a one year difference in age, are counted as a single person (presumably their high ranking would not have been merited by only half of the team). For the moveon.org founders, Joan Blades, the more publicly active of the two, is tracked.

Race is broken down into the four major Census categories. I counted Ralph Nader and John Abizaid as white, although they are both half-Arabic.

AttributeLiberalConservative
Average Age58 years, 7 monthsJust under 58 years
Male81%93%
Female19%7%
Outed homosexual3%2%^
Religion/heritage
Protestant43%44%
Catholic27%29%
Mormon1%3%
Orthodox3%*0%
Jewish24%23%
Buddhist1%**0%
Openly atheist3%1%

Race

White82.5%94%
Black14.5%3%
Hispanic3%1%^^
Asian0%2%
Occupation
Politician33%24%
Political fiend13%8%
Thinktank6%6%
Print media3%22%
Television4%6%
Radio0%6%
Religious interest0%4%
Moneymen5%1%
Judiciary1%3%
Internet3%

3%

Military0%6%
Scholarship1%3%
Economics2%2%
Actor/film producer8%1%
Racial interests4%0%
Activist14%5%

* Includes Arianna Huffington, who seems to be spiritually mystical
** Blogger Jerome Armstrong
^ Includes Larry Craig, the other being Andrew Sullivan
^^ Alex Castellanos of rats 'fame', currently working for Romney's campaign

The right is more heavily comprised of dead white males than the left, but Euro-descended Christian men make up the majorities on both sides. Baby-boomers make up more than half of those identified (54%). Most of those outside of this generation preceded it. Only 15 (7.5%) of the 200 people were born after 1964.

Jewish representation, coming to almost one-quarter of the total on both the right and the left, far outstrips its representation in the population at large. It is in line with Jewish representation among US nobel prize winners (27%).

Racially, the story is mostly one of blacks and whites. Asians are almost non-existent (Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Michelle Malkin are the only two). There are a total of only four Hispanics from both sides. Just two of the four--Bill Richardson and Markos Zuniga (the Daily Kos guy)--come close to household name recognition.

Perhaps surprisingly, the conservative side has a substantial representation of columnists while the liberal side is almost devoid of them. This is partly due to the leftward slant that characterizes most of the traditional media, which makes it more difficult for leftist writers on the editorial page to stand out from what is contained in the hard news pages, since there is so much overlap.

Conservatives don't get much help from Hollywood. The only entertainment figure to make the list on the right is Chuck Norris, whose acting career is essentially over. This meshes well with the perception that to be openly conservative in Hollywood is to jeopardize one's career. Liberals, however, are foreigners in the land of radio (NPR just isn't that influential).

Politicians and political operatives are more heavily represented on the left than on the right. That might also be a consequence of 'selective' media focus, as in the case of Charles Schumer.

With the exception of the "print" category, the occupational list is predictable enough. Military figures show up on the right. So do religious figures. Racial leaders appear on the left. More of the left's influential figures are involved in awareness campaigns and public protests (activists) than they are on the right.

13 comments:

al fin said...

Leftists control universities, most print and broadcast media (except talk radio), and Hollywood/pop culture.

The US Democrats should be winning by 90% of the vote, given leftist dominance in all those areas.

Even in K-12 education, leftist curriculum predominates,in government schools.

Just what does the left have to do to totally take over the US?

Audacious Epigone has discovered the answer: flood the country with uneducated, below-average intelligence immigrants. That out to do it.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al fin,

But they don't have the womb nor the internet, in addition to talk radio and most religious institutions (although the latter presents its own difficulties). On the native front, demographic trends actually favor the right on balance. But unfettered unskilled immigration is obliterating that slight 'natural' advantage.

dave in boca said...

Footnote on Abizaid & Nader: Arab is generally assumed to be "Caucasian" as much as "Jewish" is, given that both are descended from Bedouin tribal sources ab origine. Huffington [and Helen Thomas, if she's on the lists] would be Greek Orthodox female [to one of which I am married], always a meteoric entity. Armstrong is a mystical astrologer, of course, who serves as Zuniga's Cagliostro.

You will recall Bill Clinton's crooning on the inherent wisdom of the American people. Now the commentariat/Euroweenies prate that the Americans are "stupid."

Guess that's what we deserve for electing GWB!

Liberals actually believe what they see in their own funhouse mirrors!

curious said...

I count 25 ethnic Jews on the liberal list and 21 on the "conservative" side (mainly neocons).

Strangely, Steve Sailer reproduces your list with the "Jewish" breakdown removed and asserts the demographics show "that at the upper reaches of American life, status competition is overwhelmingly a white vs. white struggle".

There's some of that, sure -- after you account for (largely one-way, largely Jewish versus European) ethnic competition.

desmond jones said...

But unfettered unskilled immigration is obliterating that slight 'natural' advantage.

Is it true for this elite group as well? Any idea what the average number of children per family is for this group?

Anonymous said...

Matt Drudge should be counted as a gay conservative on the list. David Brock says he repeatedly came on to him when Brock was a fellow semi-closeted right wing journalist, and Drudge after being spotted at gay nightclubs offered the explanation that he likes going to gay clubs because they have "better music." Further he is single, used to live in Hollywood while working as a sales clerk in a movie studio gift shop, and got his start as a gossip columnist.

Anonymous said...

Both Bill Richardson and Markos Moulitas Zuniga are only half hispanic, with the other halfs being WASP and Greek, respectively.

You are wrong that editorial pages are dominated by the left. In big cities maybe, but the half of the people living outside of big metro areas also read newspapers, and these are generally right-wing. Further, the op-ed pages of most even big city (but not huge city) newspapers are mostly right wingers. So open up the Atlanta Constitution or St Louis Post and you'll mostly see conservatives on the op-ed page.

Last time I looked George Will is by far the biggest columnist in the US by both readership and total newspapers.

dave in boca said...

audacious---your link to the "leftward slant" is bizarre. What is the code needed to get in?

anonymous is slightly deranged if he thinks the Post-Dispatch & the Constitution are conservative. And George Will is not a true conservative, and I doubt as well that he is the most popular.

And to cite David Brock, a proven serial liar, about anything, including Drudge's supposed gay propensities, shows why anonymous is afraid to use a moniker that identifies him.

Sailer keeps getting busted for being [or appearing] to be slightly anti-sem, so I guess he should subtract that appellation from his graph.

Audacious Epigone said...

It's not Steve's fault that the Jewish count is included. He apparently excerpted me almost immediately after I posted, and in my original post I'd forgotten to include the Jewish count in my table. It was my goof, not an omission on his part.

Anon,

Richardson is 3/4ths Mexican and only 1/4th European. But virtually all Hispanics are European to some extent, as are all blacks on both lists. I used halves only when it was clear that each parent was from a distinctly different group; otherwise, I went with majority 'composition'. Since Zuniga grew up in El Salvador, I did count him as Hispanic.

Dave,

What do you mean in "meteoric entity", exactly? You're too nimble a writer for me, it's hard to keep up!

Curious,

I will put my excel data up on swivel soon. Will you point out where I'm off on the Jewish count, as I'd like to touch up the list if it's off, when I do so?

Desmond,

It would be really tough to find out information on children for the pollsters and internet folks. Just finding out age and ethnicity was a lot more time consuming than I'd thought it would be. To use a couple of well-known people, I had been under the impression that John Bolton and Keith Olbermann were Jewish, but neither are, for example.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the Jews are over represented and play both sides.

Audacious Epigone said...

Dave,

Sorry, I fixed the link.

Anonymous said...

Dave, if Brock were lying then he'd be sued for libel by now. What we know FOR SURE about Drudge is:

1. He was a single male gossip columnist/sales clerk in Hollywood (the only gayer profession might be a hair-dresser in the West Village)

2. A well known formerly closeted journalist says Drudge came on to him. A major book publisher printed the claim. They don't do that if they think they're going to get hit with a libel suit.

3. Drudge HAS BEEN QUOTED saying he likes to go to gay nightclubs. See http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2001-06-28/news/the-drudge-retort/full

Dave, if you want to believe despite all this that Drudge (and the still-in-denial Larry Craig) is straight, by all means enjoy your delusions.

benjamindavidsteele said...

"Perhaps surprisingly, the conservative side has a substantial representation of columnists while the liberal side is almost devoid of them. This is partly due to the leftward slant that characterizes most of the traditional media, which makes it more difficult for leftist writers on the editorial page to stand out from what is contained in the hard news pages, since there is so much overlap."

That is a very odd argument. I always find it particularly odd when I hear that very same argument being made by some conservative or right-winger in the MSM which happens surprisingly often.

http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/what-does-liberal-bias-mean/

http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/black-and-white-and-read-all-over/

http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/is-the-media-failing-to-cover-wars-properly-w-author-fred-exoo/

http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/npr-liberal-bias/

http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/the-establishment-obama-corporatism-parties/

http://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/man-vs-nature-man-vs-man-npr-parking-ramps-etc/