Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Religious denominations ranked by making most of what is given

A paper by Helmuth Nyborg tracking white adolescents by religious denominational membership, IQ, and income by way of the NLSY, reveals that people who belong to more dogmatic religious traditions tend to be less intelligent than those who belong to more liberal traditions are, with atheists and agnostics falling on the higher-IQ end of the liberal spectrum.

That isn't surprising. Adherence to fantastic, empirically unverifiable beliefs does not denote intelligence. The more literal and less metaphorical those beliefs become, the less they are going to appeal to intelligent people.

That religiosity and intelligence are inversely correlated obfuscates the potential value of religion by suggesting that religious belief causes a drop in IQ. Half Sigma suggested as much a couple of years ago:

Doesn’t anyone think that it’s at least as important to tell us that religion also brings stupidity? I guess not.
IQ stabilizes around age seven. I am unaware of data suggesting that an increase in religiosity corresponds with measured IQ over the course of an individual's life. So I am comfortable in presuming that to the extent the two are related, the causation arrow points from intelligence to religiosity.

From this perspective, I find religion potentially beneficial, for those of modest intelligence anyway. If some belief system is going to be uncritically followed, better for it to come from Billy Graham than from Us Weekly.

Nyborg's paper allows for an evaluation, by way of household income, of how members of various denominations fare relative to their average IQ levels. Unfortunately, he pulls the income data from the households of the teenagers, so the comparisons made below are based on the income of adults and the IQ and beliefs of their children (which are presumably mostly shared with that of the parents). Some of these children will have switched to different denominations upon becoming adults, just as some of their parents have brought the teenagers in the study up in a different denomination than they were raised in themselves. A study out of the University of Chicago finds that around two-thirds of Protestants, more than four in five Catholics, and nearly nine in ten Jews retain the same religious tradition they were raised in. Consequently, the table should only be seen as suggestive. If Nyborg had tracked adults in both cases, it would be superior.

Anyhow, following is an index created by subtracting a denomination's average household income (adjusted for sample size) in comparison with all groups, by standard deviation, subtracting it from the denomination's average IQ in the same way, and multiplying by 100 for ease of viewing. So a group that is .5 SDs above the mean in income and .3 SDs below the mean in IQ scores an 80 ((.5- (-.3))*100)--given their modest intelligence, they are pretty economically successful. Also included for reference are marriage-plus-cohabitation rates as reported by Pew's US Religious Landscape survey:

1. Jewish69.663%
2. Mormon31.274%
3. Presbyterian16.765%
4. Disciple of Christ12.658%
5. Baptist8.365%
6. Roman Catholic5.865%
7. Personal philosophy3.458%
8. Unified Ch. of Christ0.758%
9. Other religion(0.3)60%
10. Methodist(0.4)66%
11. Lutheran(6.7)66%
12. Episcopalian/Anglican(9.7)60%
13. Holiness(12.0)64%
14. Pentecostal(13.3)64%
15. Bible Church(13.5)67%
16. Agnostic(16.3)51%
17. Muslim(17.2)60%
18. Other Protestant(30.0)58%
19. Atheist(36.9)50%

Even with the second highest IQ scores of the 19 groups measured, Jewish incomes far surpass what intelligence alone predicts. This suggests the story behind Jewish success is more than the history of Ashkenazi intelligence alone. The stock explanation that Jews put a great deal of emphasis on learning and focus on scholarship comes to mind. So do Bernie Madoff's investors. It would be interesting to see a full study with adjustments for IQ comparing the life outcome of Jews with goyim. It should also be noted that Nyborg made no cost of living adjustment for incomes, so Jewish population concentration in the relatively expensive Northeast causes some score inflation.

Mormons shine by this measure as they do by many others. A remark by a medical student and Steve Sailer reader seems right on the money:

I don't think Mormons in general have higher IQ's, but I think that since they are not allowed to drink, smoke, party, gamble, or any other fun stuff, they are all ultra productive, and even the mediocre ones are able to channel their hard work into success.
Mormons are the least likely of the 19 denominations to live alone, but I suspect among the married, they are among the most likely to have a single breadwinner household.

Atheists and agnostics, by contrast, come in at the bottom. The low rates of multiple person households is part of the explanation, but the high number of lone wolves among their ranks illustrates their social marginality in another way relative to the cognitive endowments they enjoy. This does little to dispel stereotype I hold of atheists as cynical, single white guys who live in apartments downtown, work at used record stores, love George Carlin, and watch Adult Swim.

Nyborg's paper might give smug atheists justification for superciliousness, but unless the argument is that atheism increases intelligence, there isn't much to brag about, save being more worthy in the eyes of Socrates. They don't achieve as much as believers do given the hand they're dealt.

Speculatively, among Christian groups, those devoting relatively less attention to the Gospels and more to the entire Bible (Presbyterians and Catholics) and that also put greater relative emphasis on what is done by the individual in this world do a little better than others like Lutherans and Methodists.

Parenthetically, Razib uses the GSS to extensively compare Episcopalians and Jews, groups consistently found to perform similarly on IQ tests, averaging around two-thirds of one standard deviation above the white mean. Does Jewish liberalism relate to the group's material advantages over Episcopalians in the secular world?

The data, via Swivel.

* For lack of better alternative, marriage plus cohabitation for "Other religion" comes from Pew's "Unaffiliated, Religious" category. Pew's findings for the Presbyterian Church of the USA are used with Presbyterian in the table, since Nyborg classifies Presbyterianism as liberal. Pew's findings for ELCA members are used with Lutheran above for the same reason. The Bible Church marriage-plus-cohabitation percentage comes from Pew's findings on historically evangelical independent Baptist churches. Nyborg's Other Protestant rates come from Pew's findings on "Unitarians and other liberal faiths". The rates for both Pentecostal and Holiness are derived by averaging Pew's findings on Assemblies of God and Church of Christ, as it is unclear what parameters Nyborg uses to classify Pentecostals, and Pew does not report data specifically on the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mangan on God

He's gone on a tear since this posting, but Dennis Mangan articulates my take on the God question better than I am able to:

In this entire debate, what seems to have gone unnoticed and unremarked is: What consequences can we draw from the purported existence of God? My answer is: none whatsoever. If the existence of God cannot be the subject of empirical inquiry, that must mean that we have no way of seeing whether God acts in any way upon the world. We have no way of knowing whether God, should he exist, could possibly care about human beings and their often sorry little world.
Periodically I'll get the urge to delve into philosophical writings by men like Leibniz or Hume, but usually burn out too quickly to even finish a single selection. I find myself faced with the empiricist's inherent problem in using the natural to describe the supernatural. It seems those who posit a God and those who posit no God inevitably talk past each other on this point.

Natural methods have not proved God's existence, but it is conceivable that the supernatural has dictated that the natural be unable to detect it. I try to find comfort in Pascal's Wager, but am unsettled by the thought that God might as easily punish those who believe as reward them, so the idea that the best possible outcome for the atheist is the same as the worst possible outcome for the theist isn't convincing.

Consequently, the focus here is usually limited to the consequences of religiosity, not the validity of its supernatural claims. I'm agnostic, hoping for benevolent theism, with a reverence for Christianity captured by my inclination towards one of Lawrence Auster's responses to Dennis from the aforementioned post:

So, far from there being no truth of existence, with each culture making up and prospering by its own lies, there is a divine truth of existence, but humans cannot grasp it fully, each culture only gets parts of it. But the more a culture gets of it, the better that culture will be. And of all religions, Christianity expresses far and away the fullest measure of the divine truth of existence. Which is not to say that even the best religion cannot become distorted and ruinous, as modern, liberalized Christianity is. But that only means that Christianity must be won back from liberalism, just as our whole civilization must be won back from liberalism.
Staying power has theoretical plausibility as an argument for veracity, or at least as an argument for Darwinian fitness.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reflections on Final Fantasy X-2 (spoiler warning)

(These are my reflections on Final Fantasy X-2 for PS2. RPGing is a personal hobby, and such exposition enhances the gaming experience for me. But it may not be of interest to many readers, so please disregard this post if that is the case).

Charlie's Angels was one of the first series to showcase women in justice-seeking roles traditionally reserved for men. It's difficult not to feel as though Final Fantasy X-2 is attempting the same for the virtual role-playing world from the game's opening on. Yuna, the sensitive Kelly Garrett, Rikku the sporty Jill Munroe, and Paine the feminist Sabrina Duncan, form the trio referred to as "YRP" in freeze frames interspersed throughout. Setting a fanmade trailer to music from the Pussycat Dolls adequately conveys what the gamer is to be confronted with for much of the story:

A recent Pew Research study found that 65% of daily gamers are male and 35% are female. The ratio is surely even more lopsided among rpgers. So perhaps this has marketing value in expanding the SquareEnix customer base. It might also be thought that relatively immodestly dressed females would attract teenage boys, although it seems more than a little antiquated to presume that in an age of ubiquitous internet access and an ever expanding definition of what is sexually acceptable for entertainment mediums like television and movies, pg-13 virtual girls have much contemporary drawing power. To this, consider Sam Clemmons take on what constitutes a good story (p213). It remains relevant today:

"I find that the right way to write a story for boys," [Twain] argued, "is to write so that it will not only interest boys but will strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy."
Marketing considerations aside, an all-female party strains the ability to suspend disbelief. The traditional template involves a male protagonist rescuing (or fighting for) a female made captive by (or acting against) a male villain. Fight the villain, save the princess. It's the stuff of fairy tales and Mario games because it makes sense. Men are more heavily represented at the extremes in a variety of things, from intelligence to the number of children produced. While men comprise more than 98% of the greats across the board in the arts and sciences extending back to the time of Homer, men have also started nearly all of history's wars.

It thus seems natural for most of our heroes and most of our villains to be men. Of course, averages do not dictate what will be seen in specific individuals. But three girls and no guys strains credulity, especially given that most of the game's conflicts are resolved through violence. Women are on average smaller, weaker, slower, and fatter than men are. The genre has been able to compensate for these martial disadvantages by inserting fictional attributes and then having women dominate in them (magic, magic defense, luck). Further, the female advantage in flexibility is often furtively converted into an advantage in agility or dexterity, even though men are more agile and dexterous than women are.

In FFX, Yuna and Rikku illustrate as much. Yuna is a powerful white mage and summoner; Rikku the party's quickest member. Such profiles complement the greater physical prowess usually reserved for men. In FFX-2, an all-female party precludes the formula from being used. Paine is inserted as the rare female beatstick, usually played by barbarians or anthropogenic creatures who necessarily abandon femine qualities (Ayla from Chrono Trigger or Freya from FFIX).

As a cariacature of second- and third-wave feminism, Paine does indeed abandon them. Following a battle victory, in an asexual tone she frequently 'asks' "Satisfied?". No.

Paine's character should have been male. Reusing another character from FFX is unrealistic, since it would have meant a reduction in the playable character base by more than half without a novel addition. Who to add, then? Auron's son. Paine, like Auron, is a gruff and taciturn swords(wo)men with a mysterious past. Auron's progeny could have easily been molded to fill the role, and as Auron is the same age as Braska (Yuna's father) and Jecht (Tidus' father), the son would've fallen into the right age range.

Perhaps the gender hangup is overdone. The corresponding trio of faction leaders, Nooj, Gippal, and Baralai, balance the narrative, even if the player is left wishing he were controlling them instead of YRP.

However, it feeds into something larger. In lamenting how the Zanarkand Ruins have become a cheesy tourist hotspot, Isaaru notes that "People flock to what is new. They forget the things that stay the same." He nails what is so attractive about rpgs--they trade in the timeless attributes of character, the desire to stand up in the face of evil, to better the lives of those around oneself, to pursue nobility. In a clean break from FFX, Isaaru injects a positive view of religious tradition, a sentiment Yuna shares when emotionally remarking she is "almost glad tourists are getting attacked by fiends". She cannot anymore than Isaaru find anything genuinely sacred about the place, as Yevon's teachings have been discredited in full, yet it strikes them both as sacreligious that this once-sacred ground has been sullied by the cheapness of free-ranging tourists.

An analogy to FFX and its sequel is hard to avoid. The somber weightiness of the former is contrasted to the fluffy shallowness of the latter by recourse to Yuna's themes in each game. Consider the former and then the latter. Or just turn to aesthetics for the contrast. Satisfied?

Steve Sailer's insights on gender and frolf help in seeing FFX as a game directed at males and X-2 at females:

I've been to three U.S. Open golf tournaments, I've watched Jack Nicklaus try to stare in a 20 foot birdie putt on the back nine Sunday at Medinah to get him in the hunt for one last U.S. Open title at age 50, but I've never seen intensity like these guys playing frolf. I watched one guy take seven or eight practice "swings" before finally just missing a 15 footer. The other three players said nothing, and just began lining up their shots with the same furious concentration.

On the other hand, the only female twosome on the course squealed in delight at each other's good shoots, then instantly resumed their conversation, of which all I overheard was, "Well, I don't care what he thinks, because I know I'm worth it!"
My superciliousness aside, FFX-2 is Yuna's story. What transpires around her in Spira parallels an internal struggle to put her past to rest. With irreparable damage done to Yevon, Spira has split into two rival factions. This fissure can loosely be seen as referencing either the Reformation or Enlightenment. New Yevon, without a legitimate raison d'etre, is seen as a clumsy leviathan claiming power it has no right to. Church critics could have (p91), with a little tweaking, just as well been members of the Youth League:

[The destruction of Yu Yevon] raises the question of how a religion which consisted of confessing and acquiring penitential 'grace', of hearing masses and sermons, of venerating sacraments, of paying to saints in the 'Church triumphant', could exist at all... [when the its very foundations had been revealed to be fraudulent].
Those who shared some of the sentiments of Auron or the Al Bhed in distrusting Yevon had been forced to sit on them. In historian Euan Cameron's words:

They could not defy 'Holy Mother Church' so long as that Church bulked so large in their system of belief.
Despite the name, New Yevon is comprised primarily of old order of monks and soldiers who staffed it before the Calm. The Youth League is where the radical 'reformers' and non-Al Bhed secular technologists have found refuge. Beclem illustrates the extremist orientation of the Youth League in his obsessive desire to burn down Besaid Temple in spite of Wakka's protestations. Following the destruction of Vegnagun and Shuyin's being put to rest, a rapprochment between the two factions takes place as they vow to push forward together.

Yuna struggles with the New Yevon 'inside' of her--her pining for Tidus, the remorse she feels for having dispatched her loyal aeons, the emotive repugnance she feels in visiting the Zanarkand Ruins. She also struggles with an 'internal' Youth League--her directionless and capricious shifting of the Gullwings from one occupation to the next (first sphere hunters, then bodyguards for hire, then a musical troupe), her mistrust of Yevon's remnants--that seeks a radical break from her past without attaining the closure she so deeply desires.

The Spiran saga paralleled inside of her is given form in the Lenne-Shuyin relationship. Essentially, the gender roles are reversed. Lenne has left the world, and Shuyin is desperately looking for a way to bring her back, feeling like he had been unable to prevent her from going a millenia before. His obsession becomes increasingly destructive. Shuyin's own Calm only comes when he puts it to rest. Or, more accurately, when Yuna puts it to rest for him. Lenne is working through Yuna to realize this outcome, presumably through the Fayth, who are working in concert with one of their mortal allies. Who? Well, who guides Yuna in doing this? None other than Auron, whose reason for being had been--and in this last way, still is--putting to rest the destructive cycle of Yevon. Shuyin and Yuna simultaneously find acceptance of their respective losses.

There is a moral in Yuna's story that is universally applicable beyond the specific world of Spira: Making one's own happiness entirely contingent upon someone else is to court personal devastation. In addition to Yuna's all-in investment in Tidus, there is Barthellow's in Donna, Ormi's and Logos' in Le Blanc, Le Blanc's in Nooj, New Yevon's in Baralai, the Youth League's in Nooj, Brother's (unsettlingly incestuous) in Yuna, and of course Shuyin's in Lenne.

With this, the normal ending offers closure. Yet, realizing personal happiness must come from within if it is to have any permanence does not preclude fulfillment from being found externally! Michael Clarkson commented that it would be disappointing if FFX had a fairy tale ending, as Spira was so wrecked from the beginning.

But what of wanting something less ambitious yet arguably more satisfying--the reuniting of Tidus with Yuna? Spira could be made into a veritable paradise and yet the ending still hurts without this. In the words of Dave Matthews, "It's not where you are but who you're with that really matters". A Spira facing 1,000 challenges is okay if Yuna gets Tidus at her side. In this vein, I hoped X-2 would get closer to FFIX's magical ending than FFX did.

The "good" ending delivers:

It smacks of empty anodyne, though (hearing Tidus and Wakka exchange barbs again is saccahrine for sure though, even if the context is silly). The "perfect" ending is necessary to complete Yuna's story:

How has Tidus returned? Is he now anchored in flesh and blood, or is he as gossamer as before? These concerns overwhelm Yuna as soon as she has Tidus back. Yet Tidus, whose very existence is in question, will not be shaken. Descartes' epistemological uncertainty caused him great anxiety, conveyed in the Meditations in what could just as well have been a literal description of Tidus' situation:

I am in turmoil, as if I have accidentally fallen into very deep water and can neither touch bottom nor swim to the safety of the surface. But I will struggle and try to follow the path I started on...
Tidus' existential uncertainty does not phase him even though--or perhaps because--he knows he cannot provide certainty. Sure, he has some theories. Maybe the Fayth gathered up all of his thoughts and used them to reconstruct him, or maybe he's still a dream. But he resolves this by taking a Humist approach. Spira is a mass of confusion. Should Tidus then revise the way he interacts with others in the world? Hume thinks this is impossible for anything more than a moment or two, while in the midst of intense philosophical speculation. John Perry's summation of Hume's thoughts capture Tidus' resolution:

We should be aware of our confusions and limitations... but we should give into our natural inclinations to believe and infer cheerfully, for we really have no choice.
So Tidus offers this to stop Yuna's incessant fretting:

Cherish me, Yuna. And I'll cherish you.
Tidus' existentialism is not surprising given the roller coaster ride in and out of existence that he has been on since Sin brought him from Zanarkand 1,002 years ago. And his approach to the mess that is Spiran metaphysics is recommendable for Yuna, as the two are presumably going to be significant players in leading Spira forward.

Although the story is Yuna's, Kimahri develops as well. He betrays a Confucian teaching from the Analects:

The superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions... This man seldom speaks; when he does, he is sure to hit the point.
The excerpt is on the money up to the second part of the second sentence. Kimahri does not have the executive function to be an effective leader. He is determined not to use violence to dissuade Garik from launching an attack on the Guado, yet he has no alternative method of stopping it. The Ronso are a tribe of mountain warriors, after all, who respect martial prowess over all else. So YRP have to use violence to force Garik to submit.

However, Kimahri hides that he is not an abstract thinker through most of the Spiran saga by heeding the advice of Proverbs 17:28:

Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise. He who shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Pointing this out is not to disparage Kimahri. He is one of the most noble characters in the Spiran universe. After being banished from Mount Gagazet, he fulfills the wish of a dying Auron to raise and protect Yuna. His devotion is unwavering, something Auron thanks him for by leaving him to face Seymour alone before Tidus rallies the troops and brings Seymour to his knees.

In X-2, he shows that common sense can compensate for a modest intellect. When Wakka is explaining to YRP his anxieties about becoming a father, Rikku applies what Kimahri said to Tidus about her on the snowmobile ride to Guadosalam. "Rikku is Rikku. So Wakka will always be Wakka." He is a good person who loves Lulu and wants to be a good father. Kimahri would expect nothing less, and neither does Rikku.

Finally, a few odds and ends:

- The Al Bhed might be seen as Jews, the destruction of Home alluding to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem built by Solomon. After wandering around without a homeland, the Al Bhed made it back to the desert to begin excavation and create another settlement (the reconstruction of the Temple in the 6th Century BC), which is then besieged by Angra Mainyu (the Romans?!). The Al Bhed are also secular (which is anachronistic if the narrative about the temples is followed) and Rikku's English voice actor, Tara Strong, is Jewish.

- Garik and his followers might be thought of as a Hamas-like faction, taking an uncomprising hardline against a much more advanced neighbor they are in constant struggle with. Kimahri and the Ronso loyal to him, in contrast, might generously be seen as a faction similar to Fatah.

- LeBlanc makes a mockery of the strong woman who needs a man as much as a fish needs a bicycle. An exotic, leftist insurgent (Nooj) turns her into an obsequious votary instantly. In real life, there are plenty of people who more-or-less do the same.

- Ormi's name is perfect. Unlike Logos, who shows lots of witty cleverness and an expansive vocabulary (I had to look up "commodious" after he used it), Ormi is just sort of there.

- The Farplane's breathtaking landscape brings the movie What Dreams May Come to mind.

I am now launching into the oldschool Phantasy Star series from Sega, so there may not be enough depth to justify a post on my observations. From what I have heard about XenoGears, it should provide plenty of food for thought. That's on deck, so until then!

++Addition++The prolifically perspacious video game reviewer, who runs the blog Popular Symbolism, notes that Yevon and its relationship to Spira alludes strongly to Shintoism in Japan:

- Like Yevon, Shinto was a state religion enforced by the state
- It is a nature religion - something close to the Gaea hypothesis, except involving powerful spiritual ghosts - and hence one could say it is opposed to technology (though the lines are ever-more blurring in Japan, where Shinto priests are even
going so far as to bless Japanese laptops - LOL)
- After the end of World War II, Hirohito had to give up his divinity claim (he was worshipped as a 'Kami' - one of the spiritual ghosts/gods in Shintoism), and hence people were associating the religion with all that was wrong about Hirohito and distanced themselves from the religion
- In FFX-2, the people have dropped religion en-masse and society has now shifted into a consumerist, secularist society. This is not unlike current-day Japan, where most 'trendy' Japanese want their country to be regarded as secular, even though the roots to Shintoism are practically anywhere.
- The whole Dressphere thing and how it allows the user to morph into the previous owner (Yuna/Lenne) is taken from Shintoism.

Anyway, just as a side note: Japanese do not regard magic as 'fictional' or 'make-believe'. For one, they practice Buddhism mixed with Shintoism. Secondly, it is no coincidence that much of the Japanese games that succeed internationally feature magic to some degree. ...

Anyway, even though modern-day Japanese like to think of themselves as secularist, most of the games and movies they watch (anime) feature Shintoist concepts to some degree or another.
I am only vaguely familiar with Shintoism, but reading the general Wikipedia article on it, PS is clearly on the mark. Although the allusions are pretty blatant in FFX and its sequel (Yuna's 'purification' experiences each time she gains a new Aeon summon, for example), the Kami conception runs (inhabiting supernatural 'gods' as well as physical items like swords) throughout much of the Japanese rpg genre.

He's considering a review delving deeper into the above. So stay tuned!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Inductivist reaffirms utility of GSS Wordsum test

In a series of posts involving hunting and various personal attributes, the question of how precise a proxy for IQ the simple ten question Wordsum vocabulary test is was raised. When evaluating Wordsum conversions against other good-faith estimation attempts by US geographical region, the answer seems to be "quite precise".

Comparing a paper by Helmuth Nyborg (via Bruce G. Charlton) with a post earlier this year by Inductivist reaffirms that impressive level of precision. Nyborg finds the same surprising thing Inductivist found--Episcopalians have slightly higher average IQs than Jews do*. Of the eight denominations the two comprised estimates for, the correlation between aggregate totals is an impressive .87 (p=.005). Both estimates are for whites only.

Relatedly, Razib of GNXP has done an enormous amount of work on the interplay of religion and intelligence.

* Both survey sources have atheist and agnostic categories, so these Episcopalians and Jews are at least theistic. The Pew US Religious Landscape Survey project found that 1 in 5 Jews are not very certain of the existence of God or do not believe in God at all, while only 1 in 25 Mainline Protestants (including Episcopalians) felt this way.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Estimated average IQ of white voters by Presidential election, 1976-2004

++Addition++The Blogfather Steve Sailer weighs in. Remarking on the tendency of the winning candidate's supporters to have lower average IQs than the losing candidate's voters, he analogizes by way of late night comedians:
It's kind of like Jay Leno vs. David Letterman. Dave pitches his show at viewers with a 105 IQ, while Jay aims his show at 100 (I'm making these numbers up but I wouldn't be surprised if they were pretty accurate). Jay gets bigger ratings.
That gets under the skin of several of his readers. It seems accurate to me, though my perception is that it is not that Letterman's jokes are necessarily funnier, it's that his humor is aimed more directly at whiterpeople, who tend to be of above average intelligence, whereas Leno takes more of a shotgun approach.


Following are estimates for the average IQ of white voters by Presidential election, gleaned by converting from Wordsum scores from the GSS under the assumption that the average (mean) score for whites is equivalent to an IQ of 100, to complement the same that was previously done for all voters:

76, n=1542IQ

80, n=2303IQ

84, n=1757IQ

88, n=2070IQ

92, n=3347 IQ

96, n=1293IQ

00, n=1386IQ

04*, n=722IQ

The Republican IQ advantage (disadvantage) by election:

1976, Carter v Ford: 3.5
1980, Carter v Reagan: 2.4
1984, Mondale v Reagan: (0.9)
1988, Dukakis v Bush: (1.7)
1992, Clinton v Bush: (0.1)
1996, Clinton v Dole: 0.6
2000, Gore v Bush: (2.6)
2004, Kerry v Bush: (3.9)

Again, the sample sizes for "other" and to a lesser extent the third party candidates are too small to put much stake in (they remain virtually unchanged when shifting from all voters to white voters only, as third party voters are about as white as the GOP base is, what is often insinuated in national exit polls notwithstanding).

The trend is similar to what emerges when all voters are considered. Republican candidates are increasingly attracting less intelligent whites than Democrats are. The southern Democrats Carter and Clinton disturb the general trend, presumably by pulling more white support from the South than northern Democrats have been able to. The whiterpeople effect has really become pronounced since the turn of the millenium. I suspect when GSS data collection for '08 is made public, we will see the intelligence gap among white voters widen.

That might be unsettling to guys like Half Sigma or myself, but electorally it's not necessarily an ominous trend for the GOP. Stopped Clock makes a thoughtful case for why it is likely inevitable:
I see the declining Republican IQ as an unavoidable consequence of the increasing minority population of the US and the fact that the interests of minorities conflict most strongly with whites who are low on the income ladder rather than high. ...

This could mean that poor whites are doomed to become everybody's dumpster, and that a party with them as its base will have little room for growth. Or it could mean that the USA will turn into a nation of Alabamas, with 88% of the whites voting Republican and 90+% of the nonwhites voting Democratic. If there is even a modest flow of presently Dem-leaning whites back into the Republican party, it could hold back the Democrats' gains for quite a long time, perhaps long enough to allow differences of opinion to split apart the Democratic coalition. But it might not be possible for the Republicans to win a true majority of whites without adopting many party platform positions that are presently associated primarily with Democrats, such as a pro-choice abortion stance and whatever else happens to be the issue of the day.
The candidate whose white supporters were less intelligent than his opponent's were was victorious in six of the last eight elections (not including '08, for which GSS data has not yet been gathered). This is not surprising, as self-described moderates and independents are consistently shown to be less educated, less intelligent, and less affluent than partisans or conservatives and liberals are.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, PRESXX, RACE(1)

* The GSS did not provide an "other" category for the '04 Presidential election.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More on perceptions of nature and nurture from the GSS

++Addition++Agnostic points out that 10, which should represent 55% genetic, 45% environmental, gets a large number of responses, even more than 11 does. This is presumably because many people incorrectly see 10 as the midway point between 1 and 21. It's impossible to completely untangle this, since 11 gets a higher response rate than other "in between" values do, indicating that nearly half of those who believe that genetic and environmental influences play an equally influential role did follow the instructions correctly (isn't that a relief?). I've redone the calculations under the presumption that both 10 and 11 indicate equal attribution to genetic and environmental influences. This underrepresents the percentage of people who assert that genes are more important, but not by much (just by the number of respondents who knew that 10 represented a 55%/45% split and chose it accordingly).

I should have suspected something was amiss because the attributions to genes and environment were too evenly split compared to responses for the question on whether genes or the environment played a major role in shaping personality. But that is what astute readers are for!


Agnostic brought four more GSS questions regarding perceptions of the influence of genes and experience to my attention. Like the question on what is perceived to influence personality, these were only asked of respondents in 2004. Rather than offering a dichotomous genes or environment answer like the item discussed in the previous post did, each of these questions allows respondents to answer on a sliding scale from 1 to 21, with 1 representing 100% genetic, 0% environmental, 2 representing 95% genetic, 5% environmental, etc.

Following are the percentages of each racial group for which a sufficient sample size existed that thought genetic influences were more important (1-10), environmental influences were more important (12-21), or the two were equally important (11), prefaced by a description of the scenario being inquired about (with respondents being called upon to give the reason for the situation). The sample size is 1,850 for whites, 272 for blacks, and 76 for Hispanics*:

An overweight white woman has lost weight before, but she always gains it back.

A black man is an all-around athlete who was on the varsity swim (!) team and continues to work out five times a week.

A Hispanic woman is always helpful and never has a negative word to say about anybody.

An Asian man regularly becomes too drunk to remember anything that happens during these drinking episodes.



The bar graph aggregates the responses for all four questions by race (click for better resolution). Blacks and Hispanics are consistently more likely to attribute behavior and attributes to genetic influences than whites are.

The black athlete scenario elicits the greatest attribution to genetic influences of the four questions for all three groups. Appealing to a person's knowledge of sports is one of the best avenues to take in getting him to think about human biodiversity. In addition to the evidence marshalled in books like Jon Entine's Taboo, he has his own lying eyes to contend with.


* As defined by those who choose "Hispanic" as their race of first mention when prompted to select from a list including 16 categories. The US Census, for which no "Hispanic" option is given for racial self-description, shows that 48% of Hispanics consider themselves white, 42% choose "other", 2% self-describe as black, and the remainder choose two or more races.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GSS on personality formation: Genes or experience?

Kevin Mac Donald presents a standard summary of the putative political positions on the nature and nurture question. For conservatives:

Race exists as a biological reality; there are race differences in socially important traits like IQ; people’s brains are wired to prefer people like themselves; they are more likely to contribute to public goods like health care and education if the beneficiaries are of the same ethnic group; people trust others more if they live in homogeneous societies.
To leftists:

Race doesn’t exist; the idea that it does exist is a fantasy of moral reprobates. To the extent that differences in traits like IQ are interesting at all, they are the result of capitalism, discrimination, or general evil. If it weren’t for white people behaving badly, we could easily build a strong, racially diverse multicultural society where all people can live happily ever after.
In 2004, the GSS queried respondents on whether they believed experience determines personality or that genes play a major role in determining it.

As is often the case, the GSS question isn't optimal. How the "experience" answer is interpreted is important--the respondent is to presume it indicates experience as being the major determinant in personality, since the contrasting choice explicitly states as much, but in rushing through he might see experience, think it plays into personality to some degree, and thus choose it. That the question was only posed for a single year is also restrictive, although 2,300 people answered it.

Depressingly, only one-quarter (25.3%) of respondents said genes played a major part in determining personality. Meta-analyses of the big five show the personality traits to be 50% heritable in aggregate. Technically, that puts heritability right on the cusp of being a major determinant. But since it is unlikely that any other single cause constitues the remaining 50% of determination, in a vernacular sense it does constitute a major part. In any case, granting 50% heritability, at worst an even split among respondents should be expected.

The data suggest conservatives are 13% more likely than liberals are to see genes playing a major role in determining personality. But, contrary to Mac Donald's dichotomy, more than 70% of self-identified conservatives do not see genes being of much importance. When it comes to speaking (actions often suggest otherwise) publicly--that is, to strangers--the overwhelming majority of Americans give the blank slatist account of human diversity.

More depressingly, the more intelligent a person is, the less likely he is to attribute personality differences to nature. Setting the white Wordsum mean score to an IQ equivalent of 100 and assuming a normal distribution with a 15 point standard deviation, average IQ for those who believe (N=1225):

Experience primarily determines personality -- 99.1
Genes primarily determine personality -- 97.4

That is the trend among individual racial groups as well--the smarter, the less likely genes are offered as an explanation for personality. Cynically, this may just indicate that more intelligent people are better attuned to the dictates of political correctness. Being relatively more tactful, they are less likely to offer an answer they understandably believe might be viewed with hostility by the one receiving it.

The intelligence effect appears to hold within groups, and more-or-less between them as well. The percentage from each racial group that gives genes a major role in personality formation:

Nat. Am.41.3%25

The sample size for Native Americans is too small to put much stake in. The differences by racial group are pretty marginal. Those of European descent are the most ecumenically-minded. It is not surprising that their tendency towards blank slatism (at least in public) complements their universality.

Interestingly, women are 34% more likely to say genes are a major determinant in personality than men are. Maybe it's because women pay more attention to their children than men do! Linda Gottfredson and Heather Mac Donald excepted, among psychologists and social scientists, however, my sense is that men are more likely than women are to hold a position of prominence for genes. But I could easily be wrong about that.

Also interesting is the realization that the entire IQ gap between the experience crowd and the gene crowd stems from differences among men. Intelligence has no relationship with the conception of how personality is formed among women. Average IQ among men who say (N=547):

Experience primarily determines personality -- 99.7
Genes primarily determine personality -- 96.1

Why? A false reading based on too flimsy a question, most of those conducting GSS interviews are women and consequently men actively try not to come off as offensive, or something else?

Tangentially, this kinda sorta constitutes a desirable (although it's not universally accepted as being as much) attribute that correlates inversely with intelligence. That is, lower IQ increases the chances someone says something politically incorrect but true. To quote Socrates, when it comes to crimethink:
"I found those held in the highest esteem were practically the most defective, whereas men who were supposed to be their inferiors were much better off in respect of understanding."
Professor Bruce G. Charlton alerted me to a paper tracking over 7,000 Brits, comparing IQ at the age of 10 and social attitudes at the the age of thirty. It finds more progressive attitudes are associated with higher intelligence.

I suspect it is not that intelligent people are more oblivious to the realities of human biodiversity than unintelligent people are, but that they are more adept at playing the politically correct game. For instance, one of the attitudes is defined as "antiracism", arrived at by the following statement which correlated with IQ at .79: "I wouldn't mind if a family of a different race moved next door." Well, it's a safe bet that higher intelligence among whites is inversely associated with the chance of living next to NAMs. So even if these smart folks are theoretically welcoming of non-whites, they tend to live in neighborhoods few NAMs are able to afford. But actions aside, they know what the right answer to give is.

Ruminating on this is sobering. We in the Steveosphere are swimming upstream. The stronger the excoriations for violating politically incorrect taboos is, the less likely intelligent people are, out of a concern for self-preservation, to entertain thoughts about the taboos. More optimistically, the rapid improvements in DNA sequencing are rendering blank slatism more and more empirically absurd.

Finally, for those who've tinkered with the GSS, are there other attributes that proxy for courage, daring, boldness, or the like?

GSS variables used: GENEEXPS, SEX, RACECEN1

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Estimated average IQ of Presidential election voters, 1976-2004

I've increasingly come to share Half Sigma's concern that the GOP's electorate has been steadily ceding the intelligence advantage it enjoys over Democrats.

The movement toward intellectual parity is not a novelty of the last Presidential election cycle or two. Setting the Wordsum average for whites to the equivalent of an IQ of 100, the average (mean, both cases) intelligence of voters in each Presidential election, extending back to 1976:

76, n=1868IQ

80, n=2946IQ

84, n=2137IQ

88, n=2349IQ

92, n=3851 IQ

96, n=1554IQ

00, n=1670IQ

04*, n=889IQ

The Republican IQ advantage (disadvantage) by election:

1976, Carter v Ford: 6.1
1980, Carter v Reagan: 6.5
1984, Mondale v Reagan: 2.9
1988, Dukakis v Bush: 0.1 (equal in table due to rounding)
1992, Clinton v Bush: 2.2
1996, Clinton v Dole: 3.5
2000, Gore v Bush: 0.2
2004, Kerry v Bush: (0.5)

The sample sizes for "other" are too small to put much stake in (ranging from 10 to 25). To a lesser degree, the same is true for the third party candidates, although the trend is for outsiders to attract relatively intelligent supporters. That's not surprising, since merely seeking them out requires some degree of intellectual curiosity.

Relatedly, notice how even though the white average is set at 100 and NAMs are included in these figures, the averages are almost all above 100. Eligible voter participation rates and IQ correlate at .65 (p=0) at the state level, and both educational and income profiles show the average voter to be considerably more educated and wealthy than the average residents of the most educated and wealthiest states.

The southern Democrats tended to draw more modest minds than their northern counterparts did. Still, the Republican advantage has been diminishing over time. This is even more 'troublesome' when it is remembered that the Democratic party has become increasingly non-white over time. So the shrinking of the GOP's IQ advantage has probably accelerated faster among whites than it has among all voters (I will look at this separately soon to see if that presumption is affirmed).

The Republican party needs more Mitt Romney and more Ron Paul to draw in smarter supporters. It needs less of Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin to do the same. But the former seem to repulse putatively indispensable Evangelicals while the latter attracts them.

The political stakes are high. What to do? I could never cut it as a political strategist.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, PRESXX

* The GSS did not provide an "other" category for the '04 Presidential election.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Riverfront Way? Not okay! We'll picnic on Cesar Chavez, or maybe MLK!

Memories of my time spent deep in the heart of Texas (Coppel!) do not include anything like this:

DALLAS -- "Industrial Boulevard" is an apt name for the gritty strip of warehouses, bail-bond offices and liquor stores that runs parallel to the Trinity River on the western edge of this Texas city's urban core.

But the name didn't fit the ambitious beautification project planned to upgrade this part of town. So in a bid to whip up citywide support for the $2 billion development, the city conducted a survey asking residents to help pick the perfect new moniker for the street.

The name game did succeed in garnering local interest -- just not in the way officials had hoped. Instead, it sparked a Rancorous power struggle between the city's growing Hispanic population and its entrenched Anglo and black leadership.

Dallas officials' 'uh-oh' moment came when they received the results of their summer survey. Having favored scenic-sounding names such as Riverfront and Trinityview for the waterside development, officials were stunned by the top choice: "Cesar Chavez Boulevard."

Walking Cesar Chavez Boulevard sounds about as enticing as walking Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard does. A great place to take the kids, no? When formulating ways to draw surbanites into the urban center, city leaders should resist input from the urban dwellers who live there as much as possible. At least the paseo is probably vibrant, anyway.

'Turnout' was low, and the labor leader won an overwhelming victory:
Cesar Chavez Boulevard won handily with 52% of the vote. Riverfront Boulevard was a distant second with 19%.

Almost immediately, Anglo and African-American council members on the City Council's Trinity River Corridor Project committee began backpedaling. Among the charges: that the survey results were nonscientific. Dave Neumann, the committee's chairman, questioned the survey's validity since there was no way to tell whether some people may have voted multiple times.

"I don't think it should bear someone's name. It should be
something that is branded to the project," said Councilman Dwaine Caraway at a recent meeting, adding he'd wanted a Trinity River-related name all along.

The perceived slight rankled Dallas Hispanic leaders, who created a task force headed by Mr. Ruiz to lobby for the Chavez name. "Our community was disrespected," said Brenda Reyes, a political consultant who helped organize the Chavez campaign. "When the Anglo community wants to rename something, nobody gets input from us; when it's our turn, we have to get the Anglo community to let us first."
Who says Hispanics don't create things? They'll put together a task force as well as the next community organizer will! Notice too in a city that is 42% Hispanic and 24% black, whites are not the unspecified other--they constitute a racial group of their own. The Anglos are a force to be reckoned with, too!

Perhaps a compromise:
The project committee attempted to calm the storm by suggesting another prominent Dallas street be renamed after Mr. Chavez. That only inflamed tensions further. Business owners and residents along the selected street, Ross Avenue, furiously rejected the proposal.
Why ever would business owners oppose something so surely good for business? Where is the correcting hand of the WSJ op/ed page to set these entrepreneurs straight, to dictate to them what's good for their Dallas businesses from atop the paper's offices in New York City, to stop a cadre that "demonizes the undocumented"?

The city council ended up stepping in to settle the matter. The name has been changed to Riverfront Boulevard. O the very embodiment of oppression!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State needs additional "Light State, Dark State"?

++Addition++Professor Gelman responds by referencing RS,BS. He does not appear especially inclined to look beyond the graphical representations of his data included in the book, and the data are not publicly available, so I'm still unable to compare the white PMD in '00 and '04 to '08 with any precision.

He also makes a point that deserves emphasis:
Even if certain differences were entirely "explainable" by race--meaning that these patterns occur in the whole population but not when considering whites, blacks, and others separately--this doesn't mean these differences aren't real. As we know from studying public opinion and voting, economic issues are huge, and the correlation between economics and ethnicity (in the U.S. and in many other places) doesn't mean that economics doesn't matter. When trying to understand the differences between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues, I think it can be helpful to understand the economic positions of their voters--conditional on race and also in aggregate. Both analyses are relevant.

Andrew Gelman, co-author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State has pointed out that the '08 Presidential election shows a political money divide similar to the '04 and '00 elections--the poorer the state, the larger the partisan gap between low income voters and high income voters is. Using voters earning less than $50,000 a year and voters earning more than $100,000 a year, there is a correlation of .49 (p=0) between the political money divide (McCain's $100k+ support minus his $50k- support) and a state's median income. Gelman performs a related analysis using the $50k- and $50k+ categories. He doesn't give an r-value, but a reworking of the same yields a nearly identical correlation of .47 (p=0).

One of Gelman's readers (who is a Princeton professor) points out the economic explanation appears to be a product of state differences in racial demographics:

Larry Bartels comments that if you only look at whites, the rich voter, poor voter pattern is similar in rich and in poor states. So one of our main findings from the Red State, Blue State book from the 2000 and 2004 elections did not persist in 2008.
That's a perspicacious observation on Bartels' part. Exit polling for '08 breaks down income by race for whites dichotomously, into under $50k and over $50k categories. The relationship between the political money divide for whites and a state's median income do not approach statistical significance (r-value=.14, p=.33).

After presenting the graph above based on Bartels' comments, Gelman closes by writing "Lots of interesting patterns here." But the only pattern the graph reveals is that blue states tend to have higher median incomes than red states do. The color-coding creates the impression that there is a pattern to be observed in this graph, but there is no meaningful relationship between the x- and y-axes, which is the concern of the post. Presenting a color-neutral graph (click to view more clearly) demonstrates that the state distribution looks kind of like an inverted shotgun discharge, not a relationship of any statistical significance. (Gelman apparently uses per capita median income, whereas I use median household income, but the lack of a relationship exists either way).

Gelman's rich state, poor state divide appears to be proxying a racial split more than it is revealing a split along class lines in poor states. In presenting the class hypothesis, he uses three states as examples: Mississippi (poor), Ohio (middling), and Connecticut (wealthy). But these states might be viewed in another way: Mississippi (much blacker than average), Ohio (average in blackness), and Connecticut (less black than average).

Mississippi provides an excellent example of why Gelman's analysis of the political money divide is substantially incomplete in not taking race into consideration. It is the poorest state and also the state with the largest political money divide. Among those making over $50,000, 74% voted for McCain. Among those earning less than $50,000, only 25% did. That's a political money divide of 49. But that gap is almost entirely accounted for by the presence of blacks. Among whites, 84% of $50k- voters backed McCain, while 91% of $50k+ whites did--a PMD of only 7.

On average (mean, weighted), McCain does 6.7 points better among whites making more than $50k than he does among whites making less than $50k. Among all voters, the gap is twice as wide. McCain does 13.4 points better among $50k+ voters than he does among $50k- voters. Half of the PMD used as the basis for explaining the differences in electoral behavior between the rich and the poor is a product of race--it disappears when non-whites are taken out of the equation.

As mentioned previously, the relationship between the white PMD and median income is almost nonexistent. If only the top 25 blackest states and DC are considered, it attenuates to nothing (r-value=.08, p=.72). A tenuous relationship between median income and white PMD does emerge when race isn't a salient factor. In the 25 whitest states, there is a correlation of .29 (p=.16) between white PMD and median income.

Whites simply don't split much along economic lines. This is especially true as the presence of non-whites (specifically blacks, as they are the electorally largest and most 'contentious' minority) increases. Race appears to be more important than class is in determining how people are likely to vote.

I'm skeptical about Gelman's claim that in '00 and '04, whites followed the larger PMD trend that he says did not persist in '08. As he points out elsewhere, state voting patterns changed little between the '04 and '08 elections. Some realignment of the white vote did occur, though. For Gelman's claim to hold, this would have to have consisted of poor whites in the McCain belt turning sharply more Republican than they already had been, and wealthy whites on the West Coast and Northeast becoming more Democratic than they had previously been.

Unfortunately, verification isn't currently feasible. Public exit polls for the '04 Presidential election do not have data broken down by income and by race. For comparative purposes, I've left a request with Gelman to make his data available on an easily accessible medium like Swivel.

Relatedly, I'm also skeptical about one of the book's major selling points:
Myth: Class divisions in voting are less in America than in European countries, which are sharply divided between left and right.
Fact: Rich and poor differ more strongly in their voting pattern in the United States than in most European countries.
Tautologically, I do not doubt it. But I suspect a comparison of white Americans and white Europeans would actually validate the myth. In refusing to consider the enormous importance of race in comparative geographic analyses, we inevitably obfuscate our view of what is going on.

Data are here and here.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hunting and income, educational attainment

After looking at what the GSS had to say about hunting and finding that it is, among whites, an activity exhibiting a moderately negative association with intelligence, it was suggested that the Wordsum vocabulary test used as an IQ proxy makes those with greater (lesser) verbal intelligence relative to mathematical and visuo-spatial abilities appear more (less) intelligent than a stricter g-loaded test would. Because a predilection for hunting is something more characteristic of people with relatively strong visuo-spatial abilities, the Wordsum measure risked a false reading, especially since the gap was just over 2 IQ points.

The concern is valid, and precaution is necessary when gauging patterns in intelligence from the GSS. But I still stand with Half Sigma and Agnostic in asserting that hunting is, on average, a lower IQ activity among whites. Looking at families of four, the average real household income (base year 1986, rounded to nearest $100, n = 1826) and average years of schooling (n = 2051) for white women who hunt and/or have a spouse who hunts, and for women who have nothing to do with hunting:

Women who have...Income Ed. yrs
Hunting involvement$37,20012.77
Nothing w/ hunting$43,60013.04

GSS variables used: HUNT, REALINC, SEX, RACE, EDUC (inspiration via Agnostic)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Political money divide by state in '08 Presidential election

++Addition2++Agnostic calculated the Spearman correlation. Using the 'standard' Pearson correlation (which I default to unless otherwise noted), and median family income for '06-'07, a correlation of .48 between the political money divide and a state's median income. So I was wrong in asserting that Republican states show more of a political money divide than poor states do.

++Addition++Agnostic shows that the political money divide correlates as strongly (slightly more so, actually) with median income (.38) as it does with McCain's total support in the state. Race plays an important role in both of these relationships. Fortunately, the exit polling provides data for whites by income, although not as detailed as the numbers for all races. I will see how the money divide looks if only whites are considered.


[Thanks to MWC for catching an elementary mistake on my part that originally had Utah's figure calculated incorrectly. It's been fixed, and I've removed the embarassing gaffe, but it's still traceable in the comments for the saddists among you!]

Intrigued by Razib's review of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, but having decided to put it on the Christmas list, I might be flying blindly here. Razib writes:

To a first approximation the rich tend to vote Republican, the poor tend to vote Democratic, the old stereotype holds. But there is also the reality that the wealthier states tend to vote Democratic and the poorer ones tend to vote Republican. ...

The rich in Connecticut, the wealthiest state per capita, are not much more Republican than the poor. In contrast, the rich in Mississippi, the poorest state, are much more Republican than the poor. Ohio, a middle income state, is somewhere in the middle. What Gelman et al. are showing here is that looking just at states removes critical information; class is a much better predictor of political orientation in poor states than it is in rich states. It isn't that rich states are blue because they are rich, it is that in rich states income doesn't matter much in relation to politics.
The data used are from the '08 election, so if anything it at least offers a look at the extent of continuity in a trend identified in the book, looked at from a bit of a different angle. Honestly, I'm not sure where to go with what follows, but since it's been gathered and might be found useful to some people, a table is presented below.

The larger the political money divide was, the more strongly the state on the whole backed McCain. The correlation among the two is a moderate .35 (p=.01).

As the book predicts, wealthier states see less of a partisan economic split than poorer states do. Per capita gross state product and the political money divide correlate at .26 (p=.06). But that's without taking cost of living into account, which would surely attenuate the already weak correlation, as blue states are generally more expensive places to live than red states are. So more than poorer states seeing an accentuated political money divide, it is Republican states that do.

The political money divide is computed by taking McCain's proportional support among those earning more than $100,000 a year and subtracting his proportional support among those earning less than $50,000 a year. This was done in part because more precise income brackets lacked sufficient sample sizes in several states, while said breakdowns were available for every state. So if McCain earned 68% of the $100k+ vote and 47% of the $50k- vote, the political divide is 21 (68-47). That's the portrait of a state (North Dakota) divided pretty sharply along economic lines. States like these tended to go for McCain. Oregon represents the only state in which the political money divide is negative (that is, those making $50k- were very slightly more likely to vote for McCain than those making $100k+ were). Whiter states like these tended to back Obama.

This surprises me a bit because egalitarianism at the state level is marginally good for Republicans (the correlation between the income ratio of a state's top 5% of earners and its bottom 20% of earners and McCain's level of support is an inverse .12, p=.21).

Following is a ranking of states based on the political money divide as previously defined:

State$ divide
South Carolina23
North Dakota21
New York17
West Virginia16
South Dakota16
New Jersey15
North Carolina14
New Mexico13
Rhode Island10
District of Columbia5
New Hampshire4

My first thought is that this proxies fairly well for a state's level of social conservatism. Parenthetically, if anyone is aware of a decent state ranking by level of social conservatism, please alert me to it. Race--specifically the relative size of a state's black voting population--is also important (the two correlate at .45, p=0), a point that is hardly startling when it is recalled how black folks 'push' whites towards the GOP.

* Utah is the sole exception to the earlier assertion that data by the aforementioned income brackets are available for all states. The $100k+ breakdown is not reported, but by working backwards from the $50k- and $50k-$100k yields 81% support for McCain among the 17% of Utah voters bringing in more than $100,000 per year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What the WSJ should explain regarding Hispanics as natural Republicans

Paul Gigot and members of the WSJ op/ed board, who earlier this week accused more than half of the Republicans in the House of "demonizing the undocumented", should have this put to them: If Hispanics are natural Republicans, why would they not have voted for McCain this election cycle? They agree with the GOP on most things save immigration restriction, after all! Surely they would realize the election as a golden opportunity to promote the open borders side of the Republican party by backing its national champion, whom they are said by the op/ed board to agree with on almost everything.

In reality, a group that is less educated, poorer, more likely to use welfare programs, more likely to engage in criminal activity, more likely to give birth to illegitimate children, less likely to own a home or be able to afford to do so, and much more suspicious of Jews and Israel than the nation at large, in addition to being affirmative action 'eligible', is simply not a natural Republican constituency, given what the GOP putatively stands for today. Shelving sovereignty is not going to change that. It will only increase the size of a group that votes against the GOP.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Contrary the WSJ, GOP restrictionists fared relatively well this election

++Addition2++Looking at IRC membership is a reasonable way to gauge restrictionism. It was used because the WSJ pointed to five members in this group (which represents more than half of all Republicans in the House) that "demonizes the undocumented", but looking at AfBI's scorecards of recent actions by members who gave up their seats would've yielded the same. AfBI gives an average score of 84% to outgoing IRC members and an average score of 70% to outgoing non-IRC members.

That said, Ponnuru's criticism inadvertantly leads to some good news--even the IRC members who lost are not among the most restrictionist Congress critters in the GOP. That average score of 84% puts them, as a group, at about the 45th percentile among Republicans in terms of restrictionism, according to AfBI. The non-IRC losers are, as a group, pretty supportive of open borders. The 70% puts them at the 22nd percentile among Republicans. The Republican party has become even more restrictionist from this election cycle than was initially realized.

++Addition++John Derbyshire and Ramesh Ponnuru weigh in at NRO. Ponnuru takes issue:
The analysis linked treats it as equivalent when a restrictionist Republican incumbent is defeated and a non-restrictionist Republican who resigns is not replaced by another Republican. It also treats everyone who isn't a member of the immigration-reform caucus as a non-restrictionist. Chris Shays, who's on the non-restrictionist list, didn't take the Journal line on immigration. Neither did Steve Chabot.
Describing data in as transparent a way as possible is something I pride myself on. I didn't realize the majority of incumbents who did not run for reelection were non-IRC members (Renzi was the only IRC member who did not try his luck in the general election). I simply looked at GOP seats to be turned over in January, and who currently holds them. Still, I think it's trivial.

The Republican nominees attempting to replace retiring incumbents, some of whom bow out because extenuating circumstances put their chances at reelection in doubt (like Weller's land dealings, Fossella's multiple embarrassments, and Wilson's and Pearce's losses in New Mexico's Senate contest), ride the waves of their fellow party members they hope to replace. If a seat is lost, that is what is of political importance. I do not see why it matters if the loss comes at the polls or ahead of time because a representative sees a reputationally and economically costly defeat coming down the pike if he runs again, so he saves face by not stepping into the cage at all.

Regarding Shays and Chabot, I'll look at AfBI gradecards soon for another method of comparison. But membership in the IRC puts a member's restrictionism in the spotlight. And very few politicians from either party are as blatant in their support of open borders as the WSJ op/ed board is.


The WSJ op/ed board claims immigration restriction was a political loser for the GOP in the '08 election cycle:
Virginia Republican Congressman Virgil Goode's narrow loss to Democrat Tom Perriello became official last week, and it caps another bad showing for immigration restrictionists. For the second straight election, incumbent Republicans who attempted to turn illegal immigration into a wedge issue fared poorly.

Anti-immigration hardliners Randy Graf, John Hostettler and J.D. Hayworth were among the Republicans who lost in 2006. Joining them this year were GOP Representatives Thelma Drake (Virginia), Tom Feeney (Florida), Ric Keller (Florida) and Robin Hayes (North Carolina) -- all Members of a House anti-immigration caucus that focuses on demonizing the undocumented.
There are actually an additional five Republican IRC members who lost their seats to Democrats on November 4th. What the dishonest board doesn't report, however, is that 105 of the 202 Republican representatives in the 110th Congress are members of the IRC (a caucus which saw its membership grow by another 7 members from '06 to '08). The ten seats given up thus constitute a 9.5% loss rate among Republican IRC members. They are:

Renzi, AZ
Musgrave, CO
Keller, FL
Feeney, FL
Sali, ID
Walberg, MI
Hayes, NC
Kuhl, NY
Drake, VA
Goode, VA

How did their non-restrictionist counterparts fare? Of the 97 non-IRC Republicans, 15 gave up their seats this election cycle. That comes to a loss rate of 15.5%. The losers are:

Everett, AL
Shays, CT
Weller, IL
Gilchrist, MD
Knollenberg, MI
Saxton, NJ
Wilson, NM
Pearce, NM
Porter, NV
Fossella, NY
Walsh, NY
Chabot, OH
Regula, OH
English, PA
Davis, VA

I am tempted to call Gigot and the board he leads a band of liars, but I strive not to impugn integrity if there exists a way to give the benefit of the doubt. In this case, the board's assertion that Republican restrictionists fared poorly is tautologically correct--they lost some seats. But non-restrictionists fared even worst. The Republican brand--displayed most prominently in the open borders championing, militarily intervening, messianic democracy-supporting, bailout-backing neocon leftist Republican presidential nominee, John McCain--is currently tarnished, and all Republicans are paying for that to some degree.

Lest the board deceive you into believing this is a repeat of restrictionism's poor showing in '06, recall that in that mid-term election cycle 5.9% of Republican IRC members lost their seats, compared to 16.7% of non-IRC representatives. The Republican party is becoming more restrictionist as non-restrictionists are rapidly being thrown out.

Also, for what it's worth, Democratic membership in the IRC increased from 4 members in the '05-'07 Congress to 7 members in the '07-'09 Congress. Here's to continued change in the IRC's partisan composition!

False premises rarely lead to sound conclusions. The board offers no exception:

The demographic reality is that the GOP can't win national elections while losing such a large share of the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the country.
McCain won 55% of the white vote. Had he been able to tick this up to 60%, he'd be set to be sworn in as the 44th President in January. McCain also won 31% of the Hispanic vote. Had his support among Hispanics been swapped with Obama's, so that McCain took 67% of the Hispanic vote and Obama only garnered 31%, he'd nonetheless remain a Senator from Arizona, coming up short in the Presidential contest.

Winning six of ten white voters is crucial for any Republican Presidential nominee. If he is able to pull that off, he's virtually guaranteed the Presidency.