So there’s a couple of statistics/political science professors. They wrote a book. And it explains everything.
I’m too drunk to transform the bullet points I made into sentences, so you get bullet points. And you’ll like it.
Shorter version of the book: why Sarah Palin is a culture warrior - she’s filthy rich.
The basic image here, also seen in Tom Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas, is of low-income people hoodwinked into backing the GOP by culture war rhetoric. But Andrew Gelman and his coauthors in the excellent Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State mount a huge pile of data to suggest that this isn’t the case. Overall, low income back strongly and consistently back Democratic candidates. Where you see culture war voting is among rich people. They explain this, plausibly, in terms of the fact that privileged people are able to do more to express their cultural preferences — both in terms of lifestyle and in terms of who they vote for. Poor people need to spend their money on stuff they need and cast their votes for practical reasons. But the well-off can afford to indulge their preferences about where to live, how to vacation, and what recreational pursuits to follow and divergent tastes in these matters continues into the voting booth.
Our current crop of candidates offers up some pretty good examples of this. The McCain family is really stinkin’ rich (inheriting multi-million dollar fortunes and owning a dozen houses) but the other three couples on national tickets are well-off on a much more banal scale. The Palin family, the Obama family, and the Biden family all have incomes running into the six figures which is much more than your average American family has. But the Palins choose to spend their money in very different ways. They’re raising five kids, getting into competitive snowmobiling, going on moose hunting expeditions, etc. This isn’t stuff that your typical coastal elites care to do with their time and money, but none of it’s cheap, either. Rather, these are the leisure pursuits of Red America’s economic elite while prosperous people in Blue America are instead raising fewer children in smaller houses that are much more expensive per square foot and spending money on cheese plates rather than moooseburgers.
[li]Example 1: Tucker Carlson, 2007 - Ok, but here’s the fact that nobody ever, ever mentions - Democrats win rich people. Over $100,000 in income, you are like more than not to vote for Democrats. People never point that out. Rich people vote liberal. I don’t know what that’s all about.[/li][li]Example 2: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2002/03/22/i-hate-your-politics/[/li][li]Example 3:: http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2005/03/the-trustfunder.html[/li][li]Interesting, because it sounds like it’s right if you glance at what state voted for who[/li][/ul]
[li]Strong correlation between income and voting in red states (strong in Texas for both counties and voters)[/li][li]Weak correlation between income and voting in blue states (virtually nothing in Maryland)[/li][li]Rich states vote for Democrats, Rich voters vote for Republican[/li][li]Poor states vote for Republicans, poor voters vote for Democrats (Bush 62% 200k+, 36% 15k-)[/li][/ul]
[li]State trend has appeared in last thirty years; didn’t exist in 1976[/li][li]Rich/poor voter divide has increased in last thirty years[/li][li]David Brooks vs. Thomas Frank[/li][LIST]
[li]Both socially liberal[/li][li]Disagree on economics[/li][li]Both live in Washington DC area[/li][li]Very easy to find a county that votes for the GOP and is poorer than Democratic-voting county in Maryland[/li][li]Journalists live in rich states, availability bias[/li][/ul]
Demographic vote shifts
[li]Last 30 years have seen white-collar and professionals go Democratic[/li][li]Last 30 years have seen owners and both skilled and non-skilled workers go Republican[/li][/ul]
[li]People who aren’t black think blacks are 24% of the population, not the correct 12% of the population[/li][li]Majority of whites think blacks are doing as well or better than everyone else economically; actually have 60% less average earnings[/li][li]Similar conclusions about immigrants and minorities seen in Europe[/li][li]http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2005/07/overestimates-o.html[/li][li]http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2005/06/misperception-o.html[/li][/ul]
Rich voter culture war
[li]Evangelical protestants have moved to the GOP[/li][li]Catholics and Mainline protestants have moved to the center[/li][li]Changes mostly concentrated in voting behavior of the rich in poor states[/li][li]Religion correlates with income in poor states, reverse in rich states[/li][li]Top 10% of income = 15% of votes[/li][/ul]
[li]Voters issue opinions still mixed (85% of GOP is not conservative or does have official opinion on an issue; roughly same for Democrats)[/li][li]Southern conservative democrats go to the GOP[/li][li]Killer Bartels graph - the rich make out like bandits under the GOP while everyone else is screwed, under Democrats everyone does pretty well instead[/li][LIST]
[li]Geographical industry difference on donations[/li][li]Regressions that Democrats can’t do much better by moving left economically, which I don’t buy[/li][li]Public vs. elite[/li][li]Enormous public margins for taxes on the superrich[/li][/LIST]
[li]Explains an awful lot, doesn’t it?[/li][/ul]
Andrew Gelman Links