Saturday, February 07, 2009

More on Pew's religion surveys, or why I like Mormons part XXIV

++Addition++Randall Parker calls for a more meticulous look at the effects and consequences of religious belief. I agree, at both the sect or denominational level, and also at the individual level. Piety is surely more beneficial for some people than it is for others. The same probably applies at the societal level.


Last year, I tried to glean some insights (here and here, for those interested) from Pew's US Religious Landscape Survey. Breaking up material into digestable and coherent chunks is not a strong suit, and an arbitrary third post on the project was left to gather cyberdust. Feathering it away, a few other points of potential interest:

- Uniquely, Mormons are both economically successful and fecund relative to the other 13 theistic affiliations* considered. They also have the most positive outlooks on life, suggesting their zest for existence doesn't stop at the office or in the bedroom. Of the seven questions asked concerning personal opportunities and life satisfaction, Mormons gave the most optimistic responses to five.

They are the most likely to be satisfied with the direction the country is going in, to be satisfied with their family lives, with how the political system works, with their personal safety and protection against things like crime and terrorism, and the most likely to believe that people who want to get ahead in life can do so if they are willing to work hard. They are the second most likely to be satisfied with their own personal lives (Buddhists are first) and the third most likely to be satisfied with their material standard of living (Jews are first, Hindus are second).

- The more Republican an affiliation's members are, the more likely they are to believe that people are able to get ahead in life if they work hard (as opposed to the view that hard work is no guarantee of success). The two correlate at .55 (p=.04).

- The percentage of each affiliation's members who believe the government should do more to help the needy, even if it requires debt financing, subtracted by the percentage who believe the government is stretched too thin to do anything more. Thus the higher the figure, the more supportive of governmental welfare programs an affiliation's members are:

1. Historically black64
2. Muslim56
3. Buddhist55
4. Other Christian47
5. Other non-Christian47
6. Jewish45
7. Unaffiliated39
8. Jehovah's Witness36
9. Catholic34
All affiliations33
10. Orthodox32
11. Mainline Protestant25
12. Hindu24
13. Evangelical23
14. Mormon7

Not surprisingly, the more supportive an affiliation's members are of increased government welfare, the more supportive they are of the Democratic party. The correlation is a strong .73 (p=0). It is worth noting that the correlation between support for increased government welfare and political liberalism is more modest, at .54 (p=.04). Members of historically black churches, Jehovah Witnesses, and Muslims are the most likely to consider themselves conservative relative to their support for the Democratic party. Buddhist, Jews, and other various smaller theologically liberal affiliations are the least likely to do so.

Barack Obama's election to the Presidency highlights the potential for a coming fissure in the Democratic coalition. Stark gender distinctions, a premium on monetary success and male masculinity, and (extended) family orientation (ie, family reunions lasting several days) are all held in high regard in the black community. When focused on it, blacks tend to be merciless in ridiculing whiterpeople social causes like vegetarianism, opposition to dog fighting (that one can really set them off), and pussy Prius cars. Environmentalism is viewed as borderline racism (that is, it is perceived as anti-black). These attitudes also describe working class Hispanics to some degree. On all of these issues, the distance between NAMs and whiterpeople is greater than it is between NAMs and middle class white Republicans.

Obama campaigned as a whiter in black's clothing to win over as many of the electorally important white voters as he was able to do, knowing racialism would net him large turnout and virtually universal support among blacks. To the extent that non-whites succeed to top positions in the Democratic party over the next three decades or so, that will probably be the primary route taken. But as the Democratic party becomes less white, non-white candidates will feel less inclined to cater to the concerns of whiter liberals. If current trends continue, by mid-century, the firm majority of Democratic voters will be non-white.

- One of my favorite bloggers is whiterperson Fat Knowledge. Although his writing suggests he rarely thinks actively in terms of human biodiversity, he is reasonable in considering h-bd when others point to how it interacts with this behavior or that outcome. So it's with a gentle jab that I call on him to admit that a post in which he insinuates disdain for "religious nutballs who try to force their religion on us" applies to a higher percentage of black churchgoers (69%) than it does to the other thirteen affiliations Pew gathered data on, including Evangelicals (64%), second most likely group to say their churches should express views on social and political questions.

- Below is a moral absolution index, computed by looking at responses to the question of whether or not there are "clear and absolute standards for what is right and wrong". The percentage of an affiliation's members who completely agree is counted as two points, the percentage that mostly agrees is counted as one point, that don't know or refused to answer as zero points, that mostly disagree as a negative one point, and that completely disagree as negative two points. The higher the score, the more morally absolutist an affiliation is. Conversely, the lower the score, the more morally relativistic it is:

AffiliationMA score
1. Mormon121
2. Jehovah's Witness119
3. Evangelical117
4. Historically black94
5. Catholic91
All religious89
6. Mainline Protestant83
7. Muslim79
8. Orthodox73
9. Other Christian69
10. Unaffiliated55
11. Hindu51
12. Jewish38
13. Other non-Christian28
14. Buddhist4

No big surprises, other than the relative, uh, relativism of Muslims. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Muslims in the US are with Evangelicals on most social issues. Maybe as a group they're more 'moderate' than they're given credit for. Or maybe their nuanced thinking about the issue of suicide bombing simply isn't as black-and-white as that of other Americans!

* Including Buddhists, but not "unaffiliated secular", agnostics, and atheists. That decision was Pew's, not mine.


Anonymous said...

Where's the map on how Southern conservatives see the world? Words that come to mind describing the left coast: pretentious, whiny, faggy, and for sure: people who try to force their immorality on the rest of us. The weird part is, they would be correct. The faggy feminist libs have indeed forced their immorality on the whole country, backed up by the law.

An especially weird irony, the power of court, which has allowed them to do so, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Though the courts have remade America in their image by striking down every law based on traditional morality, the Constitution does not give them that power.

Anonymous said...

I remember that Murray Rothbard wrote about Mormons and welfare in his book "For a New Liberty". Mormons try to solve welfare among their own without asking the government for it. These low numbers prove that it's still a very common among them.

Audacious Epigone said...


I'm not sure if such a map exists, although there is another one for whiterpeople from NYC.

I agree with you that the moral imposition is one that moves more from West Coast and Northeast to the rest of the country than the other way around.


Do you recommend the book?

Stopped Clock said...

Oh, I recognize that artist. He's made drawings/paintings of "the world from X" for all sorts of places, not just New York. That one is kind of extreme in the sense that almost nothing outside the immediate area is depicted, but I don't think he's particularly trying to satirize New Yorkers by saying that they focus only on themselves, it's just the style of his drawing.

al fin said...

Why, what's wrong with the map? I've used it to navigate across the States coast to coast at least a dozen times! ;-)

If what Bruce Charlton says about Mormons is correct, they may be one of the few hopes for a workable re-organisation of the US, after the Obama / Pelosi debacle.

The stimulus bill re-expands welfare and stimulates government jobs above all else, besides rewarding cronies and campaign backers of the new reich. If I didn't know better, I would suspect it was meant to further wreck the US economy.

There will be a lot of re-building to be done, after things decay and crumble a bit.

BGC said...

If the data suggests that US Mormons live better lives than others, then should that data influence an evaluation about whether Mormonism is more valid than other world views?

I would say yes.

My interpretation would be that _overall_ (not necessarily on an item by item basis) US Mormonism plausibly looks like it is the most valid US world view (I mean, more valid than other denominations or religions and more valid than atheism/ agnosticism).

In other words, Mormonism is superior to other world views in the same kind of way that Einstein was superior to Newton - but bearing in mind that we are not talking about scientific validity here.

It would be a mistake to evaluate the internal processing of world views using scientific evaluations, because world views are not science, nor can they be, nor should they be.

I think we should evaluate world views objectively, in an overall way, and comparatively - so we can say that one world view is better than another - but cannot say that a world view is correct (same as happens in science - one theory can be judged objectively better than another, but none can be judged correct).

Interestingly, atheists and agnostics are often surprisingly reluctant to evaluate their world views objectively, in an overall and comparative fashion.

It should be possible to make the judgment that Mormonism is the most valid world view, even if one is oneself not a Mormon. Mormonism could legitimately be regarded as an elite world view, to which respect is due even if this world view is not attainable by everyone.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Ok, we all agree we like Mormons.

But the trillion dollar question is how the heck do we convince more white Americans to act like Mormons short of converting them to Mormonism?

Matt said...

Funny. I just came from Stake Priesthood meeting where the Stake President spent an hour talking about how we could improve our efforts to convert anyone who wants to convert, to the Church of Jesus Christ (a.k.a. the Mormon Church).

In short, what I took away from it is that we need to treat others with more love and respect, be better examples to our friends and neighbors as believers in Christ, and not be afraid to answer questions about our beliefs.

So, Undiscovered Jew, from where I stand perhaps you are asking the wrong question.

I sometimes think that I have lucked into this wonderful bit of knowledge, that hardly anybody understands, that answers all the big questions (where did we come from, why are we here, what happens to us after we die, etc.) but if I try to explain it, people get angry, or tell me I'm not Christian, or that I'm a bigot.

I still think everything will work out in the end, because God loves all His children, and He knows what He's doing, even if I can't always figure it out.

Anonymous said...

You are mistaking a cult phenomenon for a real religion. The Mormon effect cannot be sustained over a wide population. Most of it is just a consequence of them being from high-end Yankee breeding stock, and living in areas that have VERY FEW minorities, and being extremely over-anxious to prove that they are NOT a destructive satanic cult. Seriously, these people go nuts out of their way to demonstrate "by their fruits you shall know them." They are just an overgrown cult, with almost no demographic, religious, or cultural diversity. Micro-select any group of Northern European-based conservatives, and you will see similar numbers. The general category of Evangelicals is almost equal in your stats, and that is a truly diverse group, not concentrated in one ethnicity or region, like Mormons.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Mormon (member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and I am what is called a "ward mission leader," meaning I work with the full time missionaries to ensure that people have the choice to join the Church, and that once they do, they are successfully integrated into the local congregation.

Rest assured, we're working non-stop to see that others receive the gospel! Our meme is particularly very much optimized for reproduction.

Those who say we are a small sampling of Yankee stock should note that we number 4 or 5 million people, comparable in population to Jews, Presbyterians, and Anglicans. We outnumber Congregationalists and Christian Scientists.

We are about 92% white--Lutherans and a number of other faiths are "whiter" than us. The number of Mormons who are white has dropped dramatically and will almost certainly continue to drop--many recent converts in my ward are Latino.

Matt said...

Anonymous: More than half of all Mormons speak Spanish as their primary language. They are not really Yankee, and never were. Early growth of the Church tended to come from the English underclass, and Scandinavia. Recently new members tend to be concentrated in Latin America.

Clark Goble said...

Most of it is just a consequence of them being from high-end Yankee breeding stock, and living in areas that have VERY FEW minorities, and being extremely over-anxious to prove that they are NOT a destructive satanic cult.

I think Razib's yankee theory is problematic. See the comments in this post that links to a study on this. Also note that for a while there were more Mormons in England than there were in the United States. And right now most Mormons live outside the US.

There's no doubt the yankee influence had an effect on the basic structure of the early Church. (Consider Brigham Young if nothing else) But I think it can be vastly overstated.

The question of whether the "Mormon effect" could be sustained over a large population is more interesting. The problem is that Mormons self-select to be Mormon. Those who don't like the community leave. But that doesn't mean that (ignoring theology versus praxis) many principles couldn't be extended over a larger population. Of course when push comes to shove you have to have some means of persuading people and that can be tricky. Having a religious conversion and theological justification obviously makes change of behavior easier. Trying to take out of Mormonism what one deems useful and moving it into a more secular sphere might prove difficult. Although I'm not sure it's undoable. (Look at the popularity of books like Covey's Seven Habits which is basically a secularized Mormonism)

BGC said...

UJ said: "the trillion dollar question is how the heck do we convince more white Americans to act like Mormons short of converting them to Mormonism?"

Who is to say it can be done, even in theory? As AE says, there are no other examples of high IQ, pro-social, pro-science, pro-business successful people who are fertile by choice.

A more constructive line is to think about what it is about Mormonism that leads to the good results. Are all the parts of the package necessary? Presumably not, but which elements of theology, worship and practice_are_ necessary, and which could be discarded without damage? So far the LDS church is proceeding with caution. So many other Christian churches have 'reformed' and liberalized themselves into near extinction.

As a branch of Christianity led by a living Prophet and based on continual revelation, Mormonism is designed to adapt and refine itself. And within Mormonism there are several strata of devoutness.

One possibility is that a core aspect of Mormonism is the transcendental cosmology of husband and wife as the complementary, joint unit of highest 'salvation' (exaltation) continuing into the after-life. My hunch is that this might be 'the key'. Of course this is _not_ transferable to the secular realm.

Anonymous said...


Sure. Rothbard is always a fun read -- shocking, weird and brilliant. I think you could also listen to the podcasts at of this book. It's not too long, free and definately not boring. Just don't get persuaded by his arguments, because it would be a waste if you'd become a libertarian Utopian too. I like this fact-driven blog.

OT: The part on Mormon-welfare is pretty incisive. It's actually what they'd call in-group altruism. Considering low welfare rates, it's working out very well for Mormons.

Now I think of it, it's probable that Rothbard used some cites and books for his welfare-Mormon story. If you're really interested in it, I'd advise you to check those out too. I bet there are more people who have investigated this phenomenon before.

al fin said...

I suspect that the husband:wife transcendental bond is important, but only one of many factors in Mormonism leading to high fertility, personal responsibility, and high achievement.

Never underestimate the "heretic factor", the self identification as being out of the mainstream. Groups that are capable of overcoming anti-group prejudice without surrendering the core principles of the group have a built-in motivation to prove themselves.

The modern mainstream in western countries is predominately leftist -- from the university to the media to government. Outsiders either get up to speed on why they are different, or they go with the flow into the drainage system and water treatment, like the rest.

The modern trend is to abandon personal competencies and to depend on "society", meaning the government, for almost everything. Mormons and other groups of more independent-minded individuals resist that trend, and are better for it.

Clark Goble said...

While I think the Mormon view of transcendent marriage is important for birth rates I think the bigger cause is the theology of a pre-mortal life. (That is the soul is pre-existent and not created at birth) This leads Mormons to think they have a duty to bring these spirits into good homes here. It's hard to think how that could easily be transferred into secularism.

Anonymous said...


I've also read that people with anthroposofic lifestyles have relatively high birth rates too. Around 1,9 -- still dying, ofcourse.

I agree that Mormons should be studied as a 'best practice' too. Still, I prefer my own lifestyle a bit more. I want a lot of children just because I want a lot of children, my gf wants them too. And we're not part of any Church or the idiocracy cast.

AE (on fertility)

Pro-natalist policies do seem to help French and Swedish women to have more children than other European countries. These nanny-state policies seem to up the birth rate somewhat. At least they seem to delay decline. These countries have TFRs comparable to American White women.

Another important idea I read somewhere were the importance of female labor participation, female education levels and traditionalist views of gender roles.

I think that a lot of things can be done to make the demographic collapse a lot less problematic.


If you're really, really interested in analyzing birth rates, you should read Jean-Claude Chesnais' book "The Demographic Transition". It's the most data-rich book on the subject.

Clark Goble said...

Just to clarify that last comment of mine. I actually think most Mormons have lots of kids because they like kids. So while I think the theology has a lot to do with this, if only on a subconscious level, I'd think it a mistake to think Mormons have kids out of a sense of duty. I can't think of anyone I know who thinks that in the least. However the theology forms a social context in which peoples desires develop. That is why would a Mormon find more enjoyment out of raising kids rather than having few kids but eating out all the time? (To just give a stereotype)

Audacious Epigone said...


So to distill your argument down to its essence, Mormonism is worth emulating because it expansively propagates Western values, while other groups are only able to pull off one or the other (either propagate or firmly hold to Western values)?

I take it that, in referring to Mormonism's ability to adapt, that religious beliefs are 'found' to be compatible with secular technological advances, not that spiritual belief systems are actually malleable (which is the case with various liberal forms of Christianity).


Whether it was intentional or not, your first comment serves as a great illustration of Mormon optimism on display.


Why do you call Mormonism a cult? Because it places much emphasis on a relatively modern prophet figure? Or are you referring to religion generally? Are there specific groups of Evangelical Protestants as GOP-friendly, financially successful, and fecund as Mormons are? Demogrpahic changes via continued conversion might change that in the future, but is it inevitable? Doesn't seem so to me.


I've looked at the shamelessly entitled Stuff Mormons Like site a few times. The perception is one I share--of devoted, involved, solidly middle class mothers and fathers tending towards Ned Flanders-like behaviors. As naturally attractive as that is to me, I'm not sure how that becomes widely desirable in broader society since celebrity and lifestyle media sources are so condescendingly dismissive of it. Maybe by starting at the end point--that this is how big families are made, so live similarly if you want a big family.


Thanks, I'll read them both. And thanks for the link, which is timely enough given a few of the recent posts here.

BGC said...

AE said: "I take it that, in referring to Mormonism's ability to adapt, that religious beliefs are 'found' to be compatible with secular technological advances, not that spiritual belief systems are actually malleable ..."

I draw the analogy with science again - science is 'true' overall, but of course, individual facts and theories are continually being discarded and new ones introduced.

By its emphasis on continued revelations, the same applies to Mormonism. It is 'true' overall but of course specific behaviours and aspects of theology are continually being discarded and new ones introduced - albeit much more slowly than with science.

The Mormon's positive view of science:

And business:

are long established, and probably integral.

I think this is because (unlike more mainstream Christianity) Mormonism is profoundly evolutionary - it does not aim at a final static situation of salvation.

Rather the cosmology is one of open-ended and potentially eternal growth and change - with humans (husbands and wives) potentially achieving 'exaltation' as Gods who may then create their own universe.

This view is perhaps more positive about the potentially endless growth and progress of modernity (e.g. science, technology and economics) than the other types of Christianity, or indeed Islam or Judaism.

Ron Guhname said...

"You are mistaking a cult phenomenon for a real religion."

The Mormons who have weighed in are far too gracious in letting this guy defame them. Christianity was hardcore and subcultural until it was made the state religion of Rome.

Stoned intro sociology students know that a cult isolates itself from society, forbids interaction with outsiders, and makes it extremely difficult to leave.

Mormons have been assimilated and integrated into American society for more than a century. They associate with whoever the hell they want. It's a sin for Catholic and Orthodox members to step foot in another church. So are they not "real" religions? Mormons have no such prohibition.

Cults don't have millions of members in most countries, of every possible ethnicity. Cults are not almost 200 years old.

It's funny, but things are so topsy-turvy now, the only type of religion considered "real" is one that is impotent--one that is not actually real.

Anonymous said...

You people are mainly talking out of your asses. If you have lived around Mormons, you realize it is a CULT! I am not defaming it as a bad religion or whatever, I am using the sociological definition. They only socialize with themselves, they highly discourage interaction with outsiders (except to evangelize them), and they shun their own members who question the party line. They are socialized very strongly, from an early age, with massive amounts of cultural-religious indoctrination (all day Sunday along with church activities at least two other nights a week, not to mention release time from their schools during the day), an amount of regular and long term indoctrination that really has no equal in any other religious group in America, not even close.

Having children is the highest ideal in their religion (it exalts them to the highest heaven), and they have an extremely well-developed social scene in order to maximize early marriages to fellow Mormons.

In other words, their fertility level is completely inseparable from their cult behavior.

And if you think half of them are Hispanic, you are smoking Mormon propaganda crack. Their conversions, across the world, RARELY last more than three months (but they stay on the official roles as Mormons forever). Their own statistics indicate this.

All this Mormonophilia needs a serious reality check. Before you people start spouting off, you need to live among them and understand them just a little bit. They are great people, citizens, and neighbors, but they are part of a big cult.

Audacious Epigone said...




Well put. Mormonism does not fit the definition of a cult anymore than other conservative religious traditions do. There is no prohibition on interacting with non-Mormons, nor is there official coercion to keep people inside the Church (at least not that I'm aware of). If former believers are no longer able or willing to adhere to the beliefs and requirements, they are to leave. But that is necessary to long-term viability--it is not cultish.

Gerrit said...


Mormonism is not the most culturally diverse religion in America. I concede that. You also bring up a good point about converts in other countries who soon forsake the religion. The problem is your attack actually undermines your entire argument that the religion is a cult. How is it so easy to leave--and to do so so quickly after joining?

Mormonism outside of the U.S. looks a lot like Mormonism inside the U.S. 150 years ago: some extremely loyal members who grow in the religion with a similar number of those who become jaded and leave the church. Apostasy was rampant in 19th century American Mormonism. It was largely this group of apostates who orchestrated the assassination of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith.
Latin American countries are beginning to feel the stability of having Mormonism be around for 100+ years. Asia is another example. Japan and Korea both have well less than 1/2 a million members between the two countries and convert retention is still difficult there; however, Mormonism has only been in Japan for about 70 years and Korea only 50. In another 100 years who knows what the Mormon population will look like in Asia?

BGC's comments on Mormonism as a world view is very compelling in this regard. As a religion, it is appealing to an increasing number of cultures across the globe. Mormon temples, special places of worship other than their typical meeting houses, now number more than 120. Locations of temples are based primarily on the amount of actively practicing Mormons in the area. So, naturally, there will be a high concentration of temples in North America and Western Europe. Having said this, there are 2 temples in Africa, 7 in Asia, and 17 in South America. Again, as Mormonism gains a deeper chronological footing in these areas, more temples will follow.

Fat Knowledge said...


First, sorry for responding so late. Kept meaning too and putting it off.

Second, thanks for the props. I always look forward to reading a good post here on your blog and challenging my assumptions with cold hard numbers.

Third, I would say that I think in terms of human biodiversity as it relates to genetics. When it comes to race, I think that it gets tricky as to what is due to genes, what is due to economic standing and what is due to culture, so I tend not to break it down that way unless it is really enlightening.

Fourth, as for the break between religiously conservative blacks and environmentalists in the Democratic party, I think you are right. I don't think they share much in common in their outlook. And I do think that environmentalism can be anti-poor in that money is used to improve the environment rather than spent to help the poor. Prop 8 passage in California to stop gays from being able to marry is being credited to blacks. So I think there is another split there with white liberals. But, I think it is more likely that the conservative blacks will move to the Republican party than environmentalists move to the Republican party. I guess we will see. :)

Fifth, as for "religious nutballs who try to force their religion on us", my mental image is of the Scopes monkey trial and people who deny evolution (and which is the foundation for understanding human genetic biodiversity). So it's with a gentle jab that I ask how you be a proponent of human biodiversity and yet promote a religion which only 22% of the people believe in evolution. :)

Oh, and I am interested in the correlation between a religion's belief in evolution and its fecundity. Something tells me that a belief in Darwin leads to less Darwinian fitness.

Audacious Epigone said...


Thanks. I like your blog for the same reason (in addition to the sheer information value).

Re: caution on ascribing behavioral differences between groups to genetics, culture, etc, that is definitely prudent. These things have to be treated clinically. I try to use empirical evidence to come up with suggestive relationships, but realize that there are other variables at work.

Re: the partisanship of conservative blacks versus liberal white environmentalists--I have less confidence than you do in how it will all shake out. If the Republican party keeps moving in the Palin/Huckabee direction, and the Democratic party moves distinctly in the whiterpeople direction, blacks might start moving toward the GOP, while whiterpeople continue to stay away. But if Republicans become the green eye shade, 'fiscal hawks'--a branding the party successfully used in the mid-nineties--while the Democratic party focuses on pushing 'economic stimulus', entitlement spending, etc upper income whites (including the Sierra Club types) will probably find the GOP relatively more appealing and blacks will find it less so.

Re: promoting Mormonism, I am not trying to prod anyone into converting, nor would I ever do so myself. But Mormons, as a group, are unique in enjoying fecundity, material success, and the ability to maintain intact family environments. The question of evolution is seen by many religious people as an attack on the validity of their worldviews when it is phrased in the context of the origins of life on earth. But a lot of these same people will same something to the effect of, "I believe evolution shapes species today, but I don't believe it explains the creation of life and I don't think we came from monkeys." They'll say they accept microevolution but reject macroevolution, etc. Even though that strikes me as a tenuous position, practically it is enough for the reality of human biodiversity and the influences of genetics to be accepted.

Yes, Darwinian belief and Darwinian fitness are inversely correlated. From the GSS, the average number of children those who believe God created man have is 2.14. For those who say man has evolved, the average is only 1.62.

Fat Knowledge said...

If the Republican party keeps moving in the Palin/Huckabee direction, and the Democratic party moves distinctly in the whiterpeople direction, blacks might start moving toward the GOP, while whiterpeople continue to stay away. But if Republicans become the green eye shade, 'fiscal hawks'--a branding the party successfully used in the mid-nineties--while the Democratic party focuses on pushing 'economic stimulus', entitlement spending, etc upper income whites (including the Sierra Club types) will probably find the GOP relatively more appealing and blacks will find it less so.

I agree, and I would be tempted to vote for the second Republican party you describe (as long as 'fiscal hawk' means balancing the budget, not just lowering taxes). I just don't see who would lead that Republican party. The Palin wing drives me crazy. I really should dislike Huckabee but something about him makes it hard for me to do that, though I can't see myself voting for him.

On Mormons and evolution, yeah I think you are right. It makes no sense to me how one could believe in just "micro-evolution" but on a practical level I am not sure how much it really matters. I take the South Park view on Mormons, the religious beliefs are pretty crazy (but then so are most other religious beliefs), but the people themselves and the lifestyle they live are generally good and that is the most important thing. And Utah is the happiest state in the nation.

Audacious Epigone said...


Interesting comment on Huckabee. Politically, he strikes me as quite similar to Bush--expansive, federal government, not an immigration restrictionist, big on the social issues like abortion, etc. But I'm a strong proponent of a national consumption tax to replace the federal income tax, and Huckabee has become the marquee politician behind the FairTax movement (even though Congressman Linder is the one who originally introduced it legislatively).