Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Limousine liberals out of touch?

In the post below a few people asked about comparisons with Democrats. So I decided to add Dems to the columns, so there are 4 classes, Dems without college degrees, Dems with college degrees or higher, Repubs without college degrees and Repubs with college degrees or higher. A few points:

1) The “elites”, or, more accurately, the 1/4 who have college degrees or higher, are more ideologically polarized.

2) There are a set of issues where class is more important than party identification. For example, free speech, where both educated segments have similar opinions vs. the less educated segments.

3) Everyone is not happy with the current the level of taxation on the middle class.

4) There are a set of social issues where educated Democrats are outliers. This is probably due to the fact that this class is extremely secular in relation to the others. Though educated Republicans are generally not fundamentalist in their religious inclinations (in fact, less so than less educated Democrats) they are religious to the same extent as less educated Democrats and Republicans.

5) Educated Democrats are generally more socially liberal than less educated Democrats, but their positions on non-cultural policy issues are more complex. They seem to favor a large welfare state, even to a greater extent than less educated (and so poorer) Democrats, but also are not as hostile to free trade. This is probably due to trade policy’s relationship to nationalism.

Note: Data from the GSS. Paraphrased some of the questions. Remember to focus on rank orders and magnitudes of differences, as opposed to the specific detail of the question or differences of a few percent. Again, I limited the sample to 2004-2008.

Lower = No high school to some college

Higher = Bachelor’s degree or higher

  Repub or lean Repub Dem or lean Dem
  Lower Higher Lower Higher
Moderate 32.8 20.7 43.8 30.1
Slightly Conservative/Liberal 20 28.5 14.3 24.4
Conservative/Liberal 30.8 37.6 16.5 28.5
Extremely Conservative/Liberal 6.9 7.5 4.3 7.3
Protestant 61.8 57.1 51.7 35.7
Catholic 23.1 26.7 25.2 26.7
Jewish 0.7 2 1.6 6.8
No Religion 9.3 9.5 15.4 22.6
Bible is Word of God 40.9 24.1 38.1 8.9
Inspired Word 46.5 61.7 45.1 52.6
Book of Fables 11.7 12.7 15.3 35.3
Fundamentalist 36.3 22.7 34.3 11.7
Humans evolved from animals 29.7 47.1 43.7 79.6
Strong. agree/agree free trade leads to better products 59.3 67.3 52.8 60.2
Taxes on low income too high, or much too high 54.7 36.8 71.7 58.5
Taxes on middle income too high, or much too high 55.8 55.9 58.4 59.3
Taxes on upper income too high, or much too high 27.3 37.2 25.4 17.8
Woman has right to abortion for any reason 29.2 36 40.8 48.8
Homosexual relations always wrong 69.6 54.9 56.3 21.1
Agree or agree strongly that America should limit imports 58.3 53.3 65.5 48.5
Owns gun in home 48.2 43.1 31.2 27.3
Semi-automatic rifles be limited to military 78.3 84.9 86.4 91.4
Does not hunt, spouse does not hunt 73.2 80.4 86 90
Government spending too much money on welfare 53.9 53.6 31.4 22.3
Allow racist to speak 59.1 72.2 56.3 77.2
Allow Communist to speak 63.9 87.3 62.5 88.4
Allow anti-Religionist to speak 74.5 91.3 72 92.2
America largely or greatly benefits from NAFTA 11.3 25.8 17.7 32.3
Approve banning of prayer in public schools 34.6 46.1 35.5 72.5
Spend more or much more on defense 53.5 41.5 35.4 17.5
Spend more or much more on unemployment benefits 22 11.8 51.3 30.1
Spend more or much more on environment 44.9 33.9 56.6 79.9
Spend more or much more on health 72.8 56.6 87.9 89.8
Spend more on culture & the arts 11.3 13.2 26.8 48
Will not eat genetically modified foods 29.7 20.8 36.5 33.9
Know God exists 69.8 64.8 66.4 37.1
Support or strongly support racial preference for blacks 9.2 6.7 19.6 27.5
Would vote for black president (yes) 92.9 98.8 93.4 99.5
Black problems due to discrimination (yes) 24.7 17.6 41.7 50.8
Hardly any confidence in organized labor 32.3 40.6 23.8 21.8
Owns home 74.9 89.5 64.2 76.1
Family income above $25,000 70.2 86.4 60.9 84.5
Strongly agree or agree that better if man work and woman tend home 46 31.9 35.1 15.2
Would vote for woman president (yes) 89.6 95.5 96.2 97
Pornography should be illegal to all (yes) 46.4 40.2 34.1 30.9
Sex before marriage always wrong 32.7 33 21.1 7.5
Identify as middle class 47.6 73.8 35.1 66
Identify as upper class 2.1 8.6 1.6 5.8
Favors death penalty for murder (yes) 81 79.1 63 47.9
Government should not take any action to reduce income differences 19.1 25.4 5.7 5.8
Federal income tax too high 59.5 56.9 60.3 48.2
Too much money spent on environment 12.1 12.9 4.9 0.7
Too much money spent on asssistance to blacks 33 28.3 10 5.8
Non-Hispanic white 95.1 95.3 64.8 77.4

· ·


  • Secular Right » Party affiliation by wealth & education, 2004-2008 · July 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    […] posts below I used education as a proxy for class. This is obviously rough. There are many people without […]

  • Russell · July 8, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I’m quite curious about the phrasing of the “ban prayer” question. Speaking as a civil libertarian, I am 100% opposed to school-sponsored prayer, and 100% in favor of students being free to pray. Banning prayer is impractical and unconstitutional, and I’m surprised to see such high support for it.

  • Author comment by David Hume · July 8, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    the phrasing is awkward because i didn’t want to add new lines. just mean that people support the supreme court ruling which bans school sponsored prayer. like is said, look at the rank order, not the details of the phrase 🙂 i really doubt most people who are surveyed by the GSS are into the nuanced details, as people thinking of it just as “kicking god out of the classrooms.”

  • Rob · July 9, 2009 at 5:19 am

    “Spend more or much more on health” – I wouldn’t know how to answer that because I don’t know what it means.

  • Richard Hoste · July 9, 2009 at 6:50 am

    A couple interesting points.

    On the question “Allow racists to speak” upper class Democrats are more in favor (77) than upper class Republicans (72). Only 59 percent of low class Republicans would allow the racist to speak. People in this demographic still get called racist themselves.

    Meanwhile, 87% of upper class Republicans would allow the communist to speak, 15% more than would allow the racist! Among “conservatives” racists are worse than communists.

    Only half of upper class Dems think that black problems are due to discrimination. That’s weird because it seems that all the elites think that. I wonder what the top 1% thinks of that question.

    The most shocking one is that only 46% of low class Republican and 32$ of upper class one believe in traditional gender roles. Feminism is where liberalism’s victory has been most complete and the main reason Western civ is ending.

  • Bill · July 9, 2009 at 10:11 am

    This is a fascinating post. As interesting as the similarities are between non-elite Ds and Rs are, the differences are even more interesting. The most eye-popping difference is the unemployment benefits question at 22 vs 51 for non-elites. The non-elite Ds come across as lower income and more worried about income inequality and economic risk (on this question and on several others).

    It would be interesting to re-create the table with only non-hispanic whites, since that is the demographic group the repubs are most likely to be able to make inroads among. I wonder how many of the differences which now appear (assistance to blacks, affirmative action, abortion, welfare, etc) would go away if you focused only on white respondents.

    On balance, the results seem pretty congenial for Buchanan type conservative arguments. They seem to show a pool of downscale Democrats who are potential converts to the Republican party if only the Republicans would embrace a more redistribution-friendly domestic policy. The results don’t seem at all congenial for socially liberal Republicans. Moving left on social issues isn’t going to attract elite Democrats and isn’t all that much of a net positive for attracting non-elite Dems.

  • Susan · July 9, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Bill, I think the argument in favor of Republicans moving left on social issues is that it would attract independents, particularly younger people who might find conservative economic and foreign policies attractive, but who are understandably put off when they hear some loon frothing and gibbering about the evils of homosexuality.

    Forget the elite Dems. Nothing a Republican could do, except commit suicide, would please them. If the non-elite Dems can only be attracted by income redistribution, then that makes any conservative fiscal policy moot.

  • TangoMan · July 9, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I think the argument in favor of Republicans moving left on social issues is that it would attract independents, particularly younger people who might find conservative economic and foreign policies attractive, but who are understandably put off when they hear some loon frothing and gibbering about the evils of homosexuality.

    And then these younger people get older, have kids, and all of a sudden discover a reluctance to have their young sons go on scout camping trips with gay Scout leaders. Whether you think that this is an inaccurate slur on gays is mostly immaterial in that what matters are the actions of parents, not the statements or slogans of people “enlightened” about homosexual issues. This is just using gay rights as an example of how the attitudes of some people change as they age and enter different phases of their life and confront new concerns. We see the same dynamic on issues like affirmative action, busing policies for increasing diversity in schools, etc. To get away from such a controversial example of the principle, substitute issues that appeal to single women, which, to a large extent, the Democrats have captured as a voting bloc, and compare the voting patterns of married women. CNN Exit poll from the 2008 election:

    Obama captured the vote of 65% of the unmarrieds, and McCain captured the vote of 52% of the marrieds.

    Married women with children voted 51% for Obama compared to 74% for unmarried women with kids. Married women with no children voted 54% for McCain compared to unmarried women with no children who voted 69% for Obama. Married men with children voted 54% for McCain compared to unmarried men with children who voted 68% for Obama. Married men with no children voted 52% for McCain compared to unmarried men with no children who voted 56% for Obama.

    Changing policies to appeal to young single voters stands a good chance of working against the interests of older married voters who are less enamored of Democratic Party policies. Young single people might find busing to be an appealing policy. Married people with children will likely have higher rates of objection to that policy. Parties need to be careful about mucking about with the issues that they represent in that each issue has a number of stakeholders backing it.

  • Susan · July 10, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Then perhaps a better strategy for Republicans/conservatives is to put a very heavy primary emphasis on fiscal and foreign policy matters and a secondary and tertiary emphasis on social ones. Or, if there’s to be an emphasis on social issues, to pick one that practically everybody can get behind, like the soaring rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Everyone can see the destructive results of this, financially as well as socially. What chance does an infant with a 13-year-old crackhead for a mom stand to lead a good life?

    As far as I can tell, the Constitution Party has made ending abortion its first plank. And it’s for that reason that they’ll remain a fringe group. No matter how most people feel about abortion, it’s not the deciding issue for them when they cast a ballot. Fiscal issues are, with foreign policy and defense close seconds.

    Casting those social issues that lend themselves to it in a pragmatic light might work.

    Don’t know. Just mulling possibilities. And mulling them on an insufficient caffeine infusion, I should add.

  • The left-wing lunatic fringe « Across the Back Fence · November 6, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    […] an interesting blog that discusses, with statistics, the polarization of the two parties. I don’t believe that […]



Theme Design by