Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's the People, Stupid...uh, I mean...It's the Stupid People

Stupid is a word I dislike, much like I dislike the word hate and both are words I generally try my best to avoid. But it was hard to resist this time.

I have found that I'm not alone in speculating about the cognitive abilities of Bush voters and I have seen an attempt to link voter preference with IQ. The attempt was debunked, and rightly so, as there are no reliable data sets from which to make such correlations. But, the case can still be made and I have set out to do just that, though the case may be more one of ignorance than stupidity.

So, using current and verifiable sources such as the US Census (2000) and CNN's election results online, I compared the number of college degree holders by state to voter preference in that state, and on occasions, in selected cities. My rationale is that there must exist some minimum standards for university entry and somewhat higher standards must exist for successful matriculation. By comparing the census data on education for each of the 50 states to each state's winning candidate, I found that in states favoring Kerry, for the most part, 25% or more of the population hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree. It seems a more college-educated population (read: broader world-views, more diversified population) votes Kerry (or NOT Bush, as it were).

I compiled the data in a table with some further elucidation. See it/read about it here.

By the way, I think the south has been getting a bad rap for being so very Bushy, when we're less so overall than some other non-southern states. In fact, some southern states were quite blue in many spots. For true red states, you'll have to visit the mid-west, particularly places like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wyoming, to name a few.

And for the record, though Louisiana may have been red on that national map, when looked at by parish, (we don't have counties and our legal system still operates under something called the "Napoleonic Code" unlike the rest of the country), New Orleans was a solid, dark blue island in a mottled sea of red, white and somewhat-light-blue. So when the rest of you northeast and west coast folks secede from Jesusland, New Orleans can be a protectorate of the United States of Canada. Think of us as your little tropical island getaway, like the northernmost Virgin Island. We've never fit in with the rest of the south anyway.


Blogger anan said...

Thank you for taking the time to do this; it's very informative and i enjoyed reading it.

So do you think the answer is education?
(In a general as well as an academic sense.)

7:36 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

Haha, way to go stick up for LA.

I've noted that degree-leaning trend in Blue states as well, but it is difficult to say. I tend to think that Blue States are more worldly, and that being introduced to a diversified reality lends to that as much as education (which is my theory of why cities over rural lean Blue on the breakdowns).

(P.S. Speaking of intelligence, I'm getting into that subject like, um, next and stuff.)

3:18 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

We'll extend a protectorate, like Puerto Rico, to New Orleans. And I will be the United States of Canada's first president so I can do that!

11:05 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Comments to the commenters...

Lasciate, I wholeheartedly agree with you and I've been using the same terms to describe the factors I think can be attributed to the difference in candidate preference. (This addresses Anan's coments, too.) Urban populations are more diverse in terms of people, occupations, lifestyles, everything. I was trying to find a way to connect this idea to the election results in a way that could be quantified.

I looked at the census data and the thing that stood out to me was education. Every big city has a university -usually more than one. (We have 7. I wonder how many Boston, New York and Los Angeles have?) I investigated and, sure enough, it held up. And what's more interesting, even places that are NOT big cities but have major universities hold up under scrutiny. (With the exception of Salt Lake City, which I guess is attributable to BYU.) The best example I could find of this is Charlottesville, in very red VA. I visited C'Ville a few years ago and it is NOT a big city, (not at all!) but it's home to the University of Virginia. Yet 72% of the voters there voted Kerry and 40.8% of the population hold degrees. So, I found the magic fact to hang my hat on, so to speak.

If you live in a big city but never attended college, chances are you're in the company of people who did. And if universities are doing their jobs well, they should be matriculating people who leave having learned how to think for themselves, ask questions, be skeptical, investigate, and not be satisfied with convenient answers. Not everyone needs a college education to do these things, and some leave still bereft of these abilities. But for many, it's absolutely necessary in order to break out of closed minds, to escape the tiny, pre-programmed worlds they've been brought up in. I've seen this happen with my students quite often. I've seen their astonishment when they begin to learn how much more there is to this world and how many other ways there are to see things. It's what makes teaching worth it to me.

And Richard, you've definitely got my vote!

5:10 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks, Lisa, for making that chart. It's the best i've seen yet. I think New Orleans is truly like an island country surrounded by the rest of the south..As soon as you cross either of the bridges out, you are in a land of ignorance (with a small portion of poor, tortured thinkers). I grew up in central Louisiana and I have nightmares about going back.

College is still the last chance we have to save young minds, and we have to cherish that. The true bible-thumpers know college is a dangerous place, where their children might come back asking questions and changing the way they live their lives. I have much respect for the people that keep it that way.

The sad thing is, intellectual discourse(combat) doesn't work on people who aren't willing to think - and most learned individuals don't have the hearts for violence. Like a fight between a boxer and a referee. I'd like to think compassion will win, but I wonder sometimes... sorry so long..

7:28 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

You don't ever have to apologize for being long here! (Says the self proclaimed Queen of Long.)

If I've learned one thing in the last few months, I've learned how true it is that willfully closed minds will stay that way, no matter what kind of evidence you present nor how persuasive it is. That's the really sad thing.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I like to avoid getting in arguments that cannot be won, so I will not fire back here. However, the insinuation that all Bush voters are stupid is insulting. I voted for Bush, but only because John Kerry is the most disgusting excuse for a political candidate this country has ever known. Michael Dukakis would have even been a better choice.

I don't debate abortion/life, creation/evolution, God/no god, or any similar issue because I'm not going to convince you I'm right any more than you can convince me you are. To summarily claim that you are smarter than me because you voted for Kerry, shame on you.

One more thing ... I am a former student of yours. You gave me an "A" on more than one occasion. If I'm stupid, what does that make you?

4:31 PM  

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