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.


agnostic said...

I could never cut it as a political strategist.

Yeah, you don't have the brain of a snail, and you're somewhat in touch with a broad range of society, especially the left half of the bell curve that is invisible to all strategists.

Stopped Clock said...

I don't think we should assume that having a low average voter IQ is inherently bad for a party. Clinton won two landslides while having an average voter IQ 4 points below his competitors. But it isn't inherently good either.

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. Also let's not forget that America's IQ as a whole is declining .. if my estimates are correct, our present-day toddlers will grow up to have an average IQ somewhere around 94, and IQ should continue to drop by about 1 point every decade for the foreseeable future. It would seem on the face of it that low-IQ is the way to go. Granted, though, that statement is useless without considering the rapidly changing racial profile of the US.

The Democratic party seems to be heading towards an alliance between unhappy minorities and well-off whites who are united in the belief that lower-class whites are generally lazy but lower-class minorities are merely victims of discrimination by lower-class whites.

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. And that would be a sad day indeed, because it would mean that our parties had ceased to represent political ideologies and instead come to resemble the ethnic politics of the worst parts of the Third World, where party membership is little more than a synonym for ethnicity and only the "war of the wombs" can turn a party's political fortune around.

Al Fin said...

Multi-decadal leftist domination of the academy, the media, and popular culture tends to skew young people to the leftist end. Particularly since professors and most journalists (and producers) consider multiple points of view too difficult for the modern mind to sort out. Don't confuse the poor things.

Too, affirmative action is on a collision course with an entitlement-minded bunch of white elitists. As their (white elitists) population shrinks, and as the populations of the truly entitled affirmative action populations grow, and should the private sector economy continue to shrink -- there will be a lot of scrabbling in the scrum for a shrinking ball.

Blode032222 said...

Stopped Clock, your analysis sounds pretty much right on, but I don't know how your point about falling IQs is compatible with the Flynn Effect. Can you cure my cognitive dissonance on this one? :)

As far as the low-IQ voter strategy, I'm just thinking a lot of the shifting in the above table has to do with who one the election. My thesis: the winner in a given year had a lower average voter IQ than the average for candidates of his party. I may even do the analysis myself....

Blode032222 said...

My little spreadsheeting effort came up with the following arithmetic means for voter IQs for the following types of candidate:

Dems 99.9
Reps 102.5
Winners 101.1
Losers 102.5
Winning Dems 99.6
Losing Dems 100.1
Winning Reps 102.0
Losing Reps 103.5

In other words, people who vote for losers are as smart as people who vote for Republicans. :)

The smartest major-party voters around are those who voted for Dole in '96 and Ford (and Dole) in '76. Something about Dole attracts the smarties and drives everyone else away. (I think Adlai Stevenson made a similar quip about himself.)

Interesting note about Carter - the dimness of his voters didn't save him in '80. Both major parties got dumber between '76 and '80, probably because the smarties were running off to vote for Anderson.

al fin said...

Blode, what Stopped Clock may be too polite or fastidious to point out, is that the Flynn effect (whatever it may be) cannot compensate for demographic replacement of smart populations by dumber populations.

Audacious Epigone said...


I'm concerned the things that are politically incorrect need the support of people with high IQs if that protective PC shield is to be broken.

Also, I've been meaning to tie your estimates of the upcoming generation's average IQ into what the GSS offers regarding birthing trends.

Re: the war of the wombs, when I start sputtering, I'll get right to that, I promise. At least I've been putting away for it for awhile...


But will the whiterpeople winners of that artificially shrinking merit pie try to reverse course at their own expense (albeit individual and short-sighted)?


Interesting that the winners average slightly lower electoral intelligence than the winners do. The gap is small, and of course we're talking about a very limited sample, but I guess that's intuitive, given that moderates/independents are consistently shown to be less educated, less intelligent, and less affluent than partisans or conservatives/liberals are.

Blode032222 said...

That's true, AE. I think there is a HUGE distinction to be drawn between independents and independents. Major-party voters who are undecided until the last minute are likely to be the dimmest around, while minor-party voters are likely to be the brightest around. The latter can be likened to folks who go to a fine restaurant with their absolute favorite entree in mind; the former are like folks who can't decide between the crispy tacos and soft tacos at Taco Bell.

Point is, in 2008 the Democrats won. I bet data from this election will represent a stop in the trend you've identified; Democratic winners have some of the dimmest voters around and Republican losers, some of the brightest.

nzconservative said...

"... the interests of minorities conflict most strongly with whites who are low on the income ladder rather than high."

Generally true, although educated white males in modestly paid fields (education, lower-level civil service jobs, arts,heritage work and conservative work, NGOs, e.t.c)have probably been hit hardest by affirmative action.