Friday, November 07, 2008

More educated (but not intelligent) states shift Democratic more rapidly

Half Sigma sees the cultural populism of 'themes' like Joe the Plumber and the choice of Sarah Palin as VP as bad for the Republican party because it is turning the most intelligent voters against the GOP. He has argued that smarter states are flipping to the Democratic party because of this.

The latter assertion appeared to me to be the case, but only because many of the more educated red states have been more competitive than the least educated red states (essentially the South) have been for decades. Eyeballing the results, it didn't jump out at me that the more educated or intelligent* states shifted in Obama's favor more than the less educated or intelligent states did.

Analyzing the numbers affirms as much about intelligent states. A state's estimated average IQ and its shift in Presidential voting from '04 to '08 are unrelated (p=.63).

However, there is a moderate correlation of .27 (p=.06) between a state's educational attainment as measured by this index and its shift in voting from '04 to '08. More educated states like Montana and Colorado didn't just shift leftward in tandem with the rest of the county this election cycle, they're doing so at a greater clip than less educated states like Mississippi and West Virginia are. The variances are modest, but in aggregate they're real. Whether this is due to the leftist environment at most colleges, the delaying effect it has on people starting families, or something else, this is concerning.

What about national exit polling? Half Sigma also argues the Republican party is losing support among the wealthiest and most educated voters. Previously, I've tracked average income and educational attainment for voters based on exit polling data for elections in '06, '04, '00, and '96. Using the same methodology**, here's how it shakes out this time around (income, educational index score):

McCain's supporters -- $86,000; 49.0
Obama's supporters -- $77,000; 50.0

In '04, Bush supporters averaged $73,000 and 43.2, while Kerry's averaged $62,000 and 48.4. McCain's educational improvement isn't from an increase in college graduate support, but from a drastic decline in support among high school dropouts (probably attributable to lots of blacks coming out to vote for Obama) as well as a drop in support among high school graduates who've never attended college.

The Democrats clearly narrowed the income gap this time around. Republican voters in '04 had an estimated 18% income edge over Democrats. But this year, the McCain voter's average income is only 11% higher than the Obama voter's average income. This in spite of the fact that blacks represented the biggest proportional increase among racial groups in voters this election cycle compared to last. Ceteris paribus, the black uptick should accentuate the gap, yet it still narrowed. Further, as explained below, I counted the $200,000 or more income category as $250,000 (for the other income ranges, I simply choose the middle dollar amount). Bush cleaned Kerry's clock by nearly two-to-one among these voters, but Obama won them 52%-46%.

* Using an educational attainment index computed using the percentage of a state's population that has a graduate degree, a bachelor's degree, and has not completed high school as a measure of education, and NAEP scores for 8th graders in math and science to estimate IQ, a state's level of education and its average intelligence proxy fairly well for one another, but they are not the same. They correlate at .59 (p=0), indicating that a little more than one-third of educational attainment can be determined by estimated IQ alone, and viceversa.

** I took the middle value of the income range category, determined what percentage of each party's total vote it represented, did this for each income category, and then came up with a mean income (rounded to the nearest thousand) accordingly. For "under $15,000", I used $7,500. For the highest income range, I used 125% of the minimum value (ie, for "$200,000 or more" I used $250,000).


Alice Finkel said...

Leftist educational indoctrination begins in K-12 and continues through undergrad, grad school, and post-grad/continuing ed. The longer a student is forced to drink the koolaid of leftist dogma, the more likely that some of it will rub off.

Length of education says nothing about a person's judgment, competence, character, or capacity to achieve. Correlating length of education to anything is essentially an exercise in vacuity.

Income, education, location, IQ, etc. are used in correlative studies because they are relatively easy data points to obtain. Just like the drunk who looks under the street light for his keys that he actually dropped two blocks down the street. But the light is better where he is looking.

Audacious Epigone said...


Educational attainment and IQ are not the same thing. At the state level, the shift is evident only when educational attainment is looked at, not IQ. This is especially noteworthy since educational attainment and estimated IQ do proxy fairly well for one another.

alice finkel said...

Yes, and you can get a PhD in ethnic, gender, and queer studies. It may take many years to reach that pinnacle of achievement, but once you are there, an affirmative action society offers many rewards. Is the person competent in any meaningful way?

Meaningful metrics of contribution to society are sadly lacking. One does what one must with what one has, like the drunk under the streetlight.

Once again, length of education says nothing about a person's judgment, competence, character, or capacity to achieve. The incompetent and worthless postmodernist pseudo-intellectuals who run many of the university indoctrination centers euphemistically referred to as "academic departments" have many years of education.

Audacious Epigone said...


I don't disagree with your sentiment. To a large extent, the problem is how academia moves people leftward by saturating them in deconstructionism, anti-empiricism, anti-Westernism, etc.

squarepusher said...

The left is not exactly anti-western or anti-imperial, as has been alluded to here previously. In fact, if you put the Democrats and the Republicans next to each other, there is comparatively little difference. Zbigniew Brzezinski is just as big of an imperialist/war hawk/colonialist as Henry Kissinger or Paul Wolfowitz; the left/right affiliation is just party dressing.

I foresee lots of additional wars under Obama's reign, plus more socialist measures at home. Go to Obama's site,, and click on the button 'America Serves' - they talk of 50 hours of community service per year for all ages, from environmental policing ('global warming climate cops') to national civilian law enforcement. ('just as strong, just as powerful as the US military', according to Obama)

Sounds fun - a little Brownshirty, but hey, can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. :)

Anyway, this is veering slightly off-topic.

Fat Knowledge said...


Good stuff.

Hey, do you know how the median/mean income of voters compares with that of the US population in general?

I was surprised that 6% of voters make over $200,000 when only 2.5% of households are at that mark.

I would think the avg income of a voter is greater than that of all citizens, but I am kind of surprised it is shifted that much.

I also wonder how accurate the exit polling is. I mean, as far as all online surveys that I fill out know, I have been making $500,000+ since I was 18. :)

Audacious Epigone said...


Apparently this is something Rahm Emmanuel also strongly supports. Is it an especially popular idea in Chicago political circles?


Exit polling income ranges only give us a hint. But the median household income in '07 was right at $50k. The median point based on exit polling data is two-thirds of the way up the rich side of the $50k-$75k income range. Presumably some exit poll respondents only report personal income, rather than household income--so the median household income of voters (according to exit pollsters--not sure how many are liars like you are!) is close to $75k.

Also, the GSS queries respondents on how often they vote in local elections. Average individual income by the four answer categories:

Always vote -- $63,700
Sometimes vote -- $66,100
Rarely vote -- $55,300
Never vote -- $36,500

That trends as expected. Maybe the "always vote" crowd are the political junkies (little less than 1/3 of the total), who probably tend to be well enough off but not the most affluent members of their communities.

Anonymous said...

Remember Steve Sailer's article on four neighborhoods of Chicago?

Poor neighborhoods have professional organizers who don't even live or conduct meetings in the neighborhood.

The better neighborhoods self organize.


I sometimes read a certain leftist blogger in order to better understand leftist attitudes. (Matthew Yglesias is even better for this purpose).

Anyway, Demosthenes thinks compulsory volunteering is terrific and that it goes against the attitude of "I've got mine, Jack" prevalant among Republicans.

I find this view puzzling as it seems to contradict what I've assumed from reading the hbd blogospere. I've always assumed that Republican types probably volunteer quite a bit. Don't religious donate blood more often? Aren't middle and upper middle class types more likely to volunteer?

He probably takes Republican anti-welfare and anti-taxation attitudes to mean that Republicans don't care about anyone but themselves and must be made to care.

Audacious Epigone said...


Arthur Brooks has argued as much. I've not read his book delving into the subject though. Without accounting for race, that doesn't say a whole lot. I'm more interested in the divide among whites. I'll produce what I'm able to from the GSS later today--it appears from a quick glance that white Republicans are markedly more likely to give to charity than white Democrats are.

Audacious Epigone said...

Percentage of each category by frequency of charity donations (whites only):

Strong Democrat:
More than once a week: 3.1%
Once a week: 9.2%
Once a month: 21.4%
At least 2/3x a year: 40.6%
Once a year: 10.9%
Not at all: 14.8%

More than once a week: 1.1%
Once a week: 11.4%
Once a month: 17.4%
At least 2/3x a year: 34.0%
Once a year: 17.1%
Not at all: 19.0%

Independent, lean Democrat:
More than once a week: 1.0%
Once a week: 8.0%
Once a month: 16.4%
At least 2/3x a year: 36.3%
Once a year: 15.9%
Not at all: 22.4%

More than once a week: 2.2%
Once a week: 7.0%
Once a month: 14.4%
At least 2/3x a year: 31.2%
Once a year: 12.2%
Not at all: 33.1%

Independent, lean Republican:
More than once a week: 5.9%
Once a week: 6.4%
Once a month: 23.2%
At least 2/3x a year: 33.0%
Once a year: 17.2%
Not at all: 14.3%

More than once a week: 2.9%
Once a week: 8.0%
Once a month: 23.4%
At least 2/3x a year: 38.7%
Once a year: 12.7%
Not at all: 14.4%

Strong Republican:
More than once a week: 4.8%
Once a week: 13.4%
Once a month: 27.2%
At least 2/3x a year: 35.5%
Once a year: 9.3%
Not at all: 9.9%

I'll convert it into an index by category to make it easier to digest. Strong 'partisans' are more likely to give than squishy ones are, and the squishy ones are more likely to give than middlers are. At each party gradient, Republicans give with greater frequency.

Anonymous said...


Thanks. By "charity donations," does this mean church donations, for Republicans at least?

I'd be interested in seeing who engages in activity which benefits the entire community, like blood donations, tutoring, Red Cross disaster relief, rather than church donations.

But perhaps that's unfair to religious types who do lots of good, like disaster relief, through their church.

Audacious Epigone said...


It asks about giving to charity. Presumably, most people categorize church donations as such. There is another question regarding actual volunteering that I'm going to look at, although I suspect you might find a similar problem there, with people volunteering at their churches. But are things like Sunday school and youth groups less beneficial to a community than Big Brothers and Sisters are?

Fat Knowledge said...


Thanks for the info on voting and income.


Right before I came and read the comments here, I was reading Ender's Game and had wrote down the name
Demosthenes to find out more about him. Then I find you referencing I will take this as a sign I should comment on your question about compulsory service (compulsory volunteering is an oxymoron, no?). :)

For me, it isn't so much about the attitude of "I've got mine, Jack", as it is a way for people who don't want to serve in the military to still serve their country. When McCain had his Country First signs, I felt like that only had to do with the military. I think compulsory service is a way to say that you can support your country and feel patriotic by activities other than military service. I don't think that this is driven by a belief that conservatives don't volunteer as much as liberals, just that they serve in a different way and liberals want credit as being patriots for what they do too.