The following tables show political orientation percentage distributions by educational attainment after roughly controlling for IQ. Respondents are broken up into five categories, each displayed in a separate table, in a way that approximates a normal distribution; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%). To balance concerns for contemporary relevance with ample sample sizes (specifically among the highly educated, low wordsum-scoring respondents), all data are from 1990 onward. To allow enough time for educational pursuit, respondents are at least 28 years old.
First, those of most modest intelligence:
|Less than HS||31.9||35.6||32.3|
This bunch is pretty consistent across all education levels and a bit to the left of the general population (the total GSS pool is ~25% liberal, ~40% moderate, 35% conservative) with the exception of those at the post-graduate level, where the liberal bent is more pronounced.
Those pursuing doctoral degrees are substantially more left-leaning than their less educated cognitive cohorts all the way up the line. As the professorial class comes from the post-graduate contingent, it's not surprising that college academics are so liberal.
Working our way up that line:
|Less than HS||22.9||42.7||34.4|
There is a similar consistency up through the four-year college degree, albeit with a center-right lean instead of a center-left one. Again, at the post-graduate level, liberalism is much more prominent than it is at lower levels of educational attainment.
Among the average Joes:
|Less than HS||25.3||39.4||35.3|
Just about what would be expected of the middle. The graduate school liberal skew is the most modest here, although it is still detectable.
Moving into the second level of intelligence, educational distinctions become clearer:
|Less than HS||16.6||42.9||40.4|
Two-thirds of those with a bachelor's degree or higher come from the pretty smarts and really smarts even though together they constitute a bit less than 40% of the population. Among pretty smarts, the conservative segment doesn't move much one way or the other across the educational spectrum. The changes come among the liberal and moderate columns. As education increases, moderates become liberals. This is intuitive--those who become politically aware during their college years after having been apathetic before that emerge as liberals, but I doubt many committed conservatives shift markedly to the left while in college, especially given how widely the popular right media admonishes conservatives about academia's leftism today.
Finally, the cognitive elite:
|Less than HS||17.6||41.4||41.0|
Again, moderates give way to liberals as we move up the educational ladder, while the conservative contingent holds steady, except at the graduate level. Among the country's most intelligent and educated, moderates are predictably few and far between.
Parenthetically, the impetus for this was a post Razib put together that is a little overwhelming at first (but reading his description and realizing that the table's first section is for all respondents while subsequent sections are broken down as noted makes it comprehensible). Razib's been supportive of TAE and responsive to personal inquiries, even though I'm always vaguely aware that he could rip much of what I write about apart if he wanted to, like he's wont to do to other bloviaters.
How is he propitiated? He tips his hand a bit in said post, describing what he is doing with it:
Instead of talking and commenting I thought as an exercise I would go further, and also be precise about my methodology so that people could replicate it (hint: this is a chance for readers to follow up and figure something out on their own, instead of tossing out an opinion I don’t care about).If lots of people smarter than myself were moved by his prodding, I'd be out of the job (and they'd be out of a lot free time) and we'd learn a ton in the process!
GSS variables used: YEAR(1990-2010), EDUC(0-11)(12)(13-15)(16-17)(18-20), WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), AGE(28-89)