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Politics, education & wealth

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OK, so I’m a little obsessed. Over at The American Scene they’ve been talking class for the past week. Its definition can be somewhat slippery. But it seems that both education and wealth have to play a role. The GSS has variables which look at wealth and education, as well as political orientation and party identification. How about combing them together?

I limited the data set to whites between the years 2000 and 2008. I recoded the variables so that there were fewer classes (e.g., extremely liberal, liberal and slightly liberal were combined into one category). Below are the results. The columns add up to 100%, so what you are seeing are the proportion in each wealth and educational combination who are liberal or conservative or Democrat or Republican.

No College Degree or lower College or Higher
Up to $75,000 Liberal 27.7 41.1

Moderate 41 22.2

Conservative 31.3 36.8

Democrat 35.5 46.6

Independent 32.3 15.5

Republican 32.2 37.9

$75,000 to $250,000 Liberal 20 32.9

Moderate 40.4 22.4

Conservative 39.7 44.7

Democrat 34.6 39

Independent 16.7 4.3

Republican 48.6 56.7

Over $250,000 Liberal 14.8 33.1

Moderate 37.5 26.1

Conservative 47.6 40.8

Democrat 27.4 43.3

Independent 20.2 6.3

Republican 52.4 50.4

Here’s what I notice: the tilt toward the Right and Republicans is much greater among the wealthy without college educations than those with. In fact, while among wealthy liberals or Democrats those with college educations outnumber those without, on the Republican side it is in fact the reverse. Additionally, it is no surprise that the proportion of liberals is very high among those who whose wealth is below $75,000 but have college degrees, and of conservatives among those without college degrees but whose wealth is above $250,000.

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  • Big Dubya · July 10, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Your data and conclusion correlate perfectly with a generalization I read at Sailer’s site: people whose income is higher than their education level would predict are conservative, and people whose income is lower than their education level predicts are liberal.

  • willybobo · July 10, 2009 at 8:05 am

    The numbers don’t add up to match other polling. For example, Pew’s 2008 shows only 27% of the American electorate overall identifying as Republican.

    I couldn’t find the distribution across income groups in your data set, but since the lower bound is 32.2%, obviously the numbers would add up to significantly more than 27%. Do yo know why the disparity?

  • willybobo · July 10, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Ah, just reread and noticed that you limited the data to whites. Why’d you do that?

  • Author comment by David Hume · July 10, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Ah, just reread and noticed that you limited the data to whites. Why’d you do that?

    controlling for variables of no interest.

  • Lorenzo · July 10, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Because the former want to protect their assets and the latter what to bolster their status @Big Dubya

  • Lorenzo · July 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    @Big Dubya
    Because the former want to protect their assets and the latter what to bolster their status

  • Liberal, Conservative, Educated, Uneducated | · July 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    […] some interesting GSS analysis on how likely one is to be liberal, moderate, or conservative based on income and […]



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