Monday, October 30, 2006

Intellectual discord, presidential elections and atheism.


(1) j. morgan has asserted, correctly, that the fact that thirteen states switched does not necessarily mean that voters did. Despite this fact, I still think that there are lots of people in this country who voted for Clinton in '92 or '96 AND Bush in '00 and '04, and that if we met one of them, we'd demand an explanation from them.

(2) I don't know if this post is worth rescuing, but redhurt has also challenged my point. What was my point? I'm not sure anymore. Basically, Dawkins seems to think that being a "supernaturalist" definitively indicates certain things about a person, while I don't think that it does. He says in the article that sensible religious people are on the side of the fundamentalists simply by virtue of their believing in God. I think that's nonsense. redhurt and I agree that most people don't really wrestle with this stuff. j. morgan agrees that the Enlightenment was basically a train wreck, and that the only way out is sweet post-structuralism.


this post out. Read the Wired article. Then come back here.

Look at 2004's electoral map.

Now look at 1992's electoral map.

What happened? I'll tell you what happened. THIRTEEN states that Bill Clinton won in 1992 were won by George Bush in 2004.

My point is that "beliefs" and "memes" don't dictate behavior to the extent that people, including Richard Dawkins, think they do. Millions of people had no trouble voting for Bill Clinton, a liberal considered very liberal by conservatives, in 1992 and then for Bush, a conservative considered very conservative by liberals, in 2004. Who are these people? Where can I find them? Why won't Richard Dawkins have a conversation with them and figure out that everything doxastic is a big mess?


At 1:49 PM, Blogger Jackscolon said...

Why does the 1996 map have the Red and Blue switched in terms of party? My brain asplode.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

Well wait, I’m not sure you are right about this.

First, these elections have a voter turn-out that hovers at around 30%. Now, it isn’t the same 30% that turns out every four years. Depending on the pressing issues at the time in the state, different segments of the population are disproportionately mobilized and vote in greater or lesser quantities. Secondly, in any given year, millions of Americans become eligible to vote and millions of Americans die. The demographic, in other words, of eligible voters is always changing. Finally, the states that have experienced huge red/blue shifts in the last 20 years are also the states that have had huge population changes. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Montana, and Colorado are the best examples of that. There have been huge shifts in the internal demographics of those states in the last 20 years, where Americans from the Northeast, Midatlantic, and West Coast have moved in huge numbers to these areas.

All that is to say that the state’s votes could go either way without a single voter changing their allegiances. Nobody had to vote for Clinton and Bush in order to achieve the outcome demonstrated here. In fact, I would bet that very few Americans (probably a statistically insignificant amount) voted for both Bill Clinton in 1992 and George W. Bush in 2004.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

Unfortunately, we can't google "number of Americans who voted for Clinton and Bush" and get a number, but I think the data points to my claim being true.

Take Kentucky, which went for Clinton in 1992 and Bush in 2000. In 1992, Clinton won the state by about 50,000 votes. In 2000, Bush won it by almost 240,000. In that same time frame, Kentucky grew by about 350,000 people. That doesn't tell us who switched, but I think you have to conclude just by a cursory look at the data that there were tens of thousands of Kentuckians who switched part allegiance between the Clinton years and the Bush years.

Check this quote out from the Pew research center:

"So far, Gore fails to draw overwhelming support even among those who voted for Clinton three years ago. This is particularly evident among swing voters. Among Independents who voted for Clinton in the last election, for example, nearly four-in-ten (38%) say they would now vote for Bush over Gore. Some 30% of young voters who supported Clinton in 1996 say they'll vote for Bush.

Groups that have traditionally given the Democrats greater support also show signs of defection. More than one-in-four women (28%) who voted for Clinton in 1992 say they would choose Bush over Gore. Nearly as many Hispanic voters who previously supported Clinton say the same (25%). Among blacks who supported Clinton, Gore does slightly better -- just 15% say they would support Bush."


In conclusion, I think I'm right--I think there are at least 1 million people in this country who voted for Clinton in '92 or '96 and then Bush in '00 or '04. Your comments explain some of the difference, but not all--Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and some of the other 13 states that switched color were not exploding states like Arizona and Nevada.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

Well, that just demonstrates that those who voted for Clinton would vote for Bush RATHER THAN FOR Gore. That doesn't tell us if they actually voted. The swing voters, while most easily swayed (and probably the largest single group), are also the least likely to vote. Elections are won by reminding strong partisans to vote (e.g. Karl Rove).

But I think the real problem is that people are inconsistent voters. It isn't as if every single American votes every single election.

Joe Democrat may have been all about Clinton in 1992 and then had a busy season at work in 2004 and didn't get around to voting, but his brother, Joe Republican just turned 18 in 2002 and is ready to go.

In the case of KY, the segment of people who voted in the 1992 election and the segment that voted in the 2004 election aren't necessarily the same. Taken with the changing demographics of the state in the 12 year gap (not necessarily population growth, but internal demographic shifts with births and deaths), I would say you have account for all but about 3 swing voters. The other 500,000 didn't care enough to actually vote.

I could be wrong.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Mair said...

I think J. Morgan is right about this one.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

Of course you'd say that, you old hag.


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