Secular Right | Reality & Reason

TAG | data analysis



Libertarians vs. statists

In a post below, Anthony asks:

Does the GSS or any other large poll have sufficient data to do this for the population at large?

How to classify “libertarian” and “statist” is difficult in the GSS. After all, libertarians in particular disagree on a lot of issues. But there are a set of “speech” related questions, combined with questions about social security and welfare, which I will sort them well. The variables are:

SPKRAC = Allow racist to speak
SPKATH = Allow anti-religionist to speak
SPKCOM = Allow Communist to speak
SPKHOMO = Allow homosexual to speak
NATSOC = Social security spending right, or too little or too much
NATFARE = Welfare spending right, or too little or too much

The libertarians below would allow for people to speak in all cases, and thought too much was being spent on Social Security and Welfare (the former was a minority position, the latter a majority). The statists were in the inverse. No surprises….
Update: Please add the percentages of the classes vertically by category. That is, add males + females along the column “Libertarian” and then “Statist”.

Reading around the web I stumbled upon National Journal‘s ubiquitous ratings of how liberal or conservative various politicians are in the domains of social, economic and foreign policy. Using the 2008 data for the House of Representatives, here are the correlations:

Social Liberal & Economic Liberal = 0.78
Social Liberal & Foreign Liberal = 0.70
Economic Liberal & Foreign Liberal = 0.66

The correlations are rather good, but not perfect. For example, assuming a linear model only 60% of the variation in economic liberalism can be predicted by social liberalism (just square the correlations). Some of this is surely the coarseness of measures Natural Journal is using; but I’m not an idealist in any case about politics insofar as there is a most liberal liberal and most conservative conservative archetype. These ideologies are embedded in the real world.

But I was curious about the residuals, that is, deviation from the trends (which are substantial). Specifically, there are the orthogonal tendencies of libertarianism and statism, which though secondary to the standard Left-Right dynamic, do exist.

I will focus on social & economic liberalism in this analysis and discard foreign policy because I don’t want to deal with other combinations right now. Additionally I am not focusing conservatism simply because it looks like it’s just the perfect inverse, so all you need to do is “change the signs.” No need to repeat. First, a scatterplot of Democrats and Republicans, colored blue and red as usual, in 2008. (more…)

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Role of genes in personality

Inductivist has a post up on the public perception of the role genes play in personality via the “GENEEXPS” variable. Though he saw a trend for Republicans to lean slightly toward more of a role for genes, I was struck by the minimal difference. I decided to look in more detail at this variable in the GSS, and again, was struck by the relative uniformity in attitude. An exception was with sex: women in this sample most definitely seem to believe that genes have more of a role in personality than men do. Also, the old are more gene-friendly than the young.

I put the 95th confidence intervals below because of the small sample sizes in some classes. The question was asked in 2004. The N was somewhat above 2200.

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The World Values Survey

About six months ago I mentioned the General Social Survey. Have a question about public opinion & correlations? Poke around, don’t let your opinion or impression be the last word!


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GSS blogging….

A week ago I lamented that there just wasn’t enough GSS blogging…I didn’t add that the GSS blogging that I do know of is all Right-of-Center.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it is nice to have a diversity of perspectives influenced by empirical data. Well, Kevin Drum has picked up the torch.  He didn’t quite use the GSS for what I expected, but you take what you can get….

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How the Rich Are Different From You and Me: Places that went for Obama are richer and smarter than places that went for McCain. The subhead is critical here:

And it isn’t just about politics. The division is also between rich and poor, between those with college educations and those without. On average, Republican communities have lower incomes and less education than Democratic communities. And those differences are growing as people migrate.

Just a reminder from the Exit Polls:


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Using the General Social Survey interface

My post, Who prays more, Democrats or Republicans?, has gotten a little link love. First at Daily Dish, and later at Kevin Drum. That’s great; in fact, a fair number of my GSS based charts get picked up around the blogosphere. But alas, the practice of looking to the GSS to test some intuition or CW hasn’t spread like wildfire. The prayer post took me all of 10 minutes. I’ve posted a link to Berkeley’s GSS interface before,, but that doesn’t seem to prod people much, so I thought perhaps this is some behavioral economic conundrum where pictures might induce more interest & initiative.



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