Bay Area Exceptionalism

The “we’re too smart to vote for a movie star” meme has entered a new phase, wherein Frisco Area residents proclaim their superior education as the reason for their voting to retain the Davis status quo. (See: Mark Simon via Dr. Frank).

Once again, let’s look at how education interacts with voting preferences. From the VNS Exit Polls in the 2000 Presidential Election, we have a handy chart:


As you see, Democratic Party voters tend to be concentrated in two educational groups, high-school dropouts and holders of advanced degrees. Most advanced degrees are Masters’, held by union-member school teachers, and most Ph. D.’s work for universities or government-supported institutions. So we have a simple matter of people voting their interests: the welfare class and union members vote for the party of big government, and non-union working people with high-school and college degrees vote Republican.

(The same pattern held in California on the Recall: people at all educational levels from high school grad to college degree voted for Arnie, but people with advanced degrees went for Bustamante. High school dropouts were not reported. Is anyone surprised that the teachers’ union supported Davis and Bustamante?)

The Bay Area has a lot of people with advanced degrees, a lot of immigrants, and a lot of people who haven’t thought about politics since college. All of these groups are conservative, in the sense of endorsing the status quo, which happens to be the Democratic Party around there:

“A lot of people have been brought up in a political culture that is very left,” said Shanto Iyengar, a professor of political communication and mass media at Stanford University. “They really live in a cocoon.”

It has become a form of conservatism to be a liberal, Starr said.

“Today, outside the box is the box,” he said. “Who would be outside the box in San Francisco? A thoughtful conservative.”

So Bay Areans vote liberal because they’re conformist and conservative in their life styles and values, and because they’re sucking the government teat.

Not too complicated.

10 thoughts on “Bay Area Exceptionalism”

  1. It’s interesting that you’re using year 2000 presidential election exit poll data to somehow magically support some opinion you have on the California recall vote. I’d say that you’re proving yourself to be more dangerous with statistics than lawyers.

    “Most advanced degrees are Masters’, held by union-member school teachers, and most Ph. D.’s work for universities or government-supported institutions.”

    you have no factual basis for this comment, do you ? I’d love to see where you’re getting this data, unless it’s your gut.

    about exit polls…your words:
    “Exit polls are face-to-face, and people in that situation are inclined to say what they’re supposed to say, not what they really did.”

    then can I assume that people reporting their education in an exit poll might be unreliable as well ? or are they conveniently accurate in this case ?

  2. I think we’re all tired of hearing that spending on bloated school administration and even more bloated teat-chers pensions is for better education of our children. Would it be cheaper to give vouchers to the parents of school-age kids, even up to college age? Would it be cheaper to contract out prisons to private firms than to maintain a private army of pensioners, er ah, prison guards? Could we do a lot better with police and fire services as well, if there were some competition? By the way, I’m registered as a Green, because I don’t think we’re well served by the Republican/Democrat duopoly, either.

  3. I’ve added California exit polls to the mix, Sty, and you’ll see that they’re consistent. Only exit polls provide us with education data, so that’s the best we’ve got.

    They’re probably close enough — say 5% — for government work.

    Now on your other point, do you seriously doubt that more Masters degrees are issued than Doctorates?

  4. I never said that I was under the impression that there were more or less Master’s degrees being issued than PhDs…not sure where you got that. ??

    I don’t doubt that more Masters are issued than PhDs. What I _do_ doubt is that somehow some significant number of the people holding Master’s degrees in the exit polls are people who hold union-member school teaching jobs, and that the PhDs “work for universities or government-supported institutions.”

    I doubt it because it sounds like you’re making it up. And not having any other demographic data besides exit polls does not magically make exit poll data worth something.

    Having the exit polls conveniently work for one statistic but not others sounds pretty weird to me.

    Seriously…in light of your earlier posts this week complaining about the use of statistics…you are almost a caricature of who you complain about, except on the other side of the aisle.

  5. Exit polls are useful, just as yardsticks are useful. Just don’t try and measure microns with one of them.

    Most of your Masters degrees are issued in fields like education and social work. Since there aren’t a lot of non-government employers in these areas, I made a leap.

    Seems like common sense to me, dude.

  6. the common sense leap you’re making is rather large, especially where you’re assuming that people with master’s degrees in education and social work are actually working in teaching.

    The correlations you’re making here (i.e. most high school and BA/BS degrees are Republicans, and H.S. drop-outs and PhDs are Democrats) are going to need more than exit polls to support it.

    FYI: according to the same exit poll, 35% of the voters who voted for Arnold also think that the condition of the economy in California is “excellent”. I guess those are the ones who didn’t study much in school and read cliff-notes, huh ?

    It’s exactly ‘leaps’ of common sense here that makes political blogs such a terrible ‘source’ of data for informing voters. Awful.

  7. The correlations you’re making here (i.e. most high school and BA/BS degrees are Republicans, and H.S. drop-outs and PhDs are Democrats) are going to need more than exit polls to support it.

    These tendencies are actually well-established in the lore of political science, and are not considered controversial by well-informed people.

  8. that’s debatable.

    either way, it doesn’t make Bay Area voters “conformist and conservative”…it would just make them predictable.

  9. Hey sty,
    It is this common sense that seperates the mindset of a liberal from a conservative. In this argument you are refusing to accept an assumption by Mr. Bennett. His assumption is based on common knowledge. For example, He shows no “evidence” that would suggest that most union members are liberals but you dont seem to have a problem with that. Common sense is what the argument is based on and I would not consider it a stretch at all.
    By the way, most cops and firefighters are conservatives…got a problem with that?

  10. And you, sir, are making some assumptions about me. My lack of argument about union members doesn’t mean I agree or disagree with anything Richard might be implying about it.

    I’m looking for evidence of a correlation of admitted political leanings with educational degree holders. I’m not refusing to accept his assumption at all. I’m asking and looking for something more than exit polls to support it.

    I’m being insistent because Richard seems to like exit polls when it supports his point, but doesn’t like using them when others do.

    I’m NOT arguing that he’s wrong, although I don’t see how that graph so strongly supports it.

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