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Are conservative whites more racist?

I analyzed some GSS data over at Discover. The commenters were only cursorily engaging the data, and I don’t have much patience for long rhetorical back and forths which are already predetermined as to the nature of the conclusions of the principals (also, no one was offering any data themselves, and I get kind of exhausted at having to be the one who is expected to leg-work while others hold forth with their awesome analyses). But in all honesty my standards are lower for the comments here since I don’t vet/read them nearly as closely, so if you guys want to argue the results, go ahead.




White men can’t be progressive?

Matt Yglesias says, White Men Are Not Very Progressive:

I would say that another message is that progressive politics is badly disadvantaged by a situation in which the overwhelming majorities of political leaders and prominent media figures are white men. There are plenty of white men with progressive views, but in general the majority of white men are not progressive and the majority of progressives are not white men. Drawing from the relatively small pool of white male progressives means drawing from a shallow talent pool.

This is not really right. From the GSS:

White non-Hispanic Men
All Bachelor’s degree Grad school degree Smart (WORDSUM 8-10), graduate degree

Extremely Lib 2.7 3.2 4 1.5
Liberal 9 11 16.2 17.4
Slightly Lib 10.4 12.9 14.4 19
Moderate 35.9 24.5 23.8 27.5
Slightly Cons 17.2 21.4 17.1 16.3
Conservative 20.5 22.9 20.9 16.7
Extremely Cons 4.4 4.1 3.6 1.6

Here’s a chart which makes the issue clear:

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Catholics somewhat less conservative even if observant

Are Catholic Republicans More Liberal Than Protestant Republicans?, a comment:

A lot of people call themselves “Catholic” who really don’t even go to Church and who deny many Catholic Church teachings…ergo… the author’s conclusion is VERY flawed.

This is a plausible hypothesis. In fact, I wonder if the comment was left by God, because they clearly know who a real “Catholic” is, and are also aware that people who call themselves Protestants are “real” Protestants. In fact, in the comments of most political blogs opinions expressed have the voice of God, because stupidity does not exist in democratic discourse. But I know how to use web forms, so I checked political ideology of those with “Strong Republican” identities in the GSS. I limited the years to 1988 and after for contemporary relevance, and to whites. I broke them down into Catholics and Protestants who attend church at different rates. Results below.




Attitudes toward immigration

Below, Art says:

Of course the Republican and conservative segment of the population is strongly anti-immigration …

They are strongly anti-illegal immigration. Most conservatives favor legal immigration, particularly skilled immigrants.

This is not really true, depending on how you interpret what Art meant. In fact, Americans as a whole want lower levels of legal immigration. In 2006 the Center for Immigration Studies republished a Zogby Poll on American attitudes toward immigration. I reproduced some of the responses to two questions below in a table.

I highlighted a few rows.

1) American Jews are outliers on immigration (though even among them there is a tendency to toward immigration skeptic positions).

2) No surprise that the highest income Americans are those who most agree that one needs immigration to bolster the unskilled labor force.

3) There are some peculiar numbers for “very conservative” individuals. 21% are “not sure” if immigration is necessary to meet the needs of unskilled labor in this country. I have two hypotheses:

a) A significant proportion of “very conservative” individuals are strongly influenced by economic libertarian arguments about the utility of easy flows of capital and labor in a global economy. So this is an empirical question for them which they will not offer an opinion upon if they don’t have the information on hand.

b) A significant proportion of “very conservative” individuals don’t see immigration as an economic issue at all, but rather one of race, ethnicity and national character. So these sorts of considerations are moot for them.

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A few weeks ago I reported on data which showed a close relationship between conservative religious views and high teen birthrates on the state level. I asked about controlling for race, since blacks have high teen birthrates, and are very religious. I did it myself, and it didn’t have that much of an effect. The relationship is real, even if you control for black population. Additionally, I limited also to teen births among those age 15-17. The correlation dropped, probably because religious conservatives marry young, but it still remains. Below is a map which shows the outcome for this on a state-level. Note that Utah is now an outlier; Mormons marry and have children young, but not at 15-17.


Update: Welcome Hot Air readers! This post reports data from the The General Social Survey, it is *not* a post to debate the presumed merits of the Creationist controversy! I used the EVOLVED variable, which asked:

Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.

TRUE or FALSE. That was all.

Rather self-explanatory. I simply used the EVOLVED variable, which records a question asked in 2006 & 2008. Nothing too surprising, but Creationist Republican politicians have mass support, so it may be that in coming years that that position will become the Republican elite norm as the pro-life position has become. The only caution, and hope, is that historically Creationists are generally beaten back by anti-Creationist elite Republicans and conservatives when they manage to force their ideas into the classroom on the local level.

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On one of my other weblogs I point out how anti-evolutionary sentiment seems particularly contingent on two variables:

1) Literalism about the Bible (a rough measure of “fundamentalism”).

2) Lack of educational socialization (i.e., not going to college and learning Truth).

One of points that cropped up though was that political ideology is highly predictive of anti-evolutionary opinions because of the strong correlation between Biblical literalism & conservatism. This is no great surprise, the modern conservative movement with the emergence of the New Right in the 1970s and the influx of southern evangelical Protestants is strongly inflected with fundamentalist Christianity. In contrast, the modern Left has become progressively more secular during the same period. But when it comes to opinions around Creationism there is an asymmetry: conservative elites are split down the middle, while liberal elites have come to a consensus that the theory of evolution is accepted science. Below I’ve broken it down by party and ideology, and italicized cases where the columns don’t exhibit any overlap on the 95% confidence intervals. I limited the sample in two ways:

1) Those who claimed advanced degrees (something beyond a bachelor’s degree).

2) Those who scored 9 or 10 on the WORDSUM vocab test, which was only 13.2% of the GSS sample.


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Religious change in the parties

Comment below:

As this shift occurred what happened with the proportion of white Catholics in the Democratic Party? Did it similarly fall, hold steady or rise? Is there a story there?

Have you GSS blogged on the differences between Democratic Catholic attitudes to issues versus Democratic Fundamentalist attitudes? What I’m wondering is whether there has been a corresponding rise of Catholic influence as Protestant influence has diminished, in particular cafeteria Catholicism rather than doctrinal Catholicism?

The data are for whites only….

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The rise of the Secular Left, II

Chris below has an excellent comment:

Drawing the stacked-bars equally high when the total size of the groups they represent is substantially different creates a very misleading visual perception. I suggest redrawing with the y-axis “% of total population” – the 1990 stack will be significantly shorter, but if my calculations are correct, the Republican slice of it will be about the same.

Below I’ve redone the chart and standardized in reference to 1990 base population numbers. Since “Nones” have gone from 9 to 15%, and the American population has gone from ~250 million in 1990 and ~300 million in 2008, the total numbers give a different impression.


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