Thursday, April 17, 2008


Larry Bartels gives Barack a clinic in "political sociology" in today's NYTimes

He summarizes the ideas behind Barack's bitter clingers thesis and then says:

This is a remarkably detailed and vivid account of the political sociology of the American electorate. What is even more remarkable is that it is wrong on virtually every count.

He goes on to create two groups of people, those with family incomes less than 60k, no college degree and live in rural areas (comprising about 18% of the population). These are Obama's bitter clingers. He also defines their opposites: incomes more than 60k, college degree, live in cities) which compose about 11% of the population. Bartels then argues that it's actually the elite group which "clings" to social issues much more strongly than the folks Barack was dissing.

Do small-town, working-class voters cast ballots on the basis of social issues? Yes, but less than other voters do. Among these voters, those who are anti-abortion were only 6 percentage points more likely than those who favor abortion rights to vote for President Bush in 2004. The corresponding difference for the rest of the electorate was 27 points, and for cosmopolitan voters it was a remarkable 58 points. Similarly, the votes cast by the cosmopolitan crowd in 2004 were much more likely to reflect voters’ positions on gun control and gay marriage.

Small-town, working-class voters were also less likely to connect religion and politics. Support for President Bush was only 5 percentage points higher among the 39 percent of small-town voters who said they attended religious services every week or almost every week than among those who seldom or never attended religious services. The corresponding difference among cosmopolitan voters (34 percent of whom said they attended religious services regularly) was 29 percentage points.

It is true that American voters attach significantly more weight to social issues than they did 20 years ago. It is also true that church attendance has become a stronger predictor of voting behavior. But both of those changes are concentrated primarily among people who are affluent and well educated, not among the working class.

Nicely done sir, kudos!

1 comment:

Mr. Overwater said...

I'm glad you pointed this out. I thought it was incredibly interesting.