November 27, 2012

Quantifying "He's an SOB but he's our SOB" by state

There is alway a lot of talk in politics about "swing states" and "swing groups" but it usually turns out to be whomever you want more attention paid to: We Massachsetts Afrolesbians are the crucial swing demographic in this year's Presidential election! Or it turns out to mean that some state is close.

Last spring, Nate Silver pointed out that it makes more sense to talk about "elastic states:" i.e., one's where voting isn't set in stone.
Let’s define an elastic state as one that is relatively sensitive or responsive to changes in political conditions, such as a change in the national economic mood. (This is in the same way that, in economics, an elastic good is one for which demand is highly sensitive to changes in prices.) 
For instance, if there are a series of strong jobs reports this summer, and President Obama’s standing improves by five percentage points nationwide, we’d expect his standing to improve by more than 5 points in an elastic state. This works both ways: if we went into another recession and Mr. Obama suffered a five-point decline in his popularity, he’d experience a larger decline in an elastic state. 
An inelastic state, by contrast, is one which is relatively insensitive to these changes. In an inelastic state, a five-percentage-point change in the national environment might only affect Mr. Obama’s numbers by three percentage points instead. 
Elastic states are those which have a lot of swing voters — that is, voters who could plausibly vote for either party’s candidate. A swing voter is very likely to be an independent voter, since registered Republicans and registered Democrats vote with their party at least 90 percent of the time in most presidential elections. The swing voter is also likely to be devoid of other characteristics that are very strong predictors of voting behavior. For instance, he is unlikely to be African-American, which very strongly predicts Democratic voting. And she is unlikely to be a Southern evangelical, which very strongly predicts Republican voting, at least recently. 
The classic example of an elastic state is New Hampshire. It has a very high percentage of independents, and those voters are also independent-minded in practice. Almost all of New Hampshire’s voters are white, but very few of them are evangelicals, characteristics that roughly balance out (Mr. Obama won about 55 percent of the nonevangelical white vote in 2008). 
A good example of an inelastic state is North Carolina. It has quite a few African-American voters, who are almost sure to vote for Mr. Obama. But it also has plenty of rural white Southerners, many of them evangelical conservatives, who almost certainly won’t. To a lesser extent, it also has some highly educated and very liberal white voters in the Research Triangle, who are also quite likely to be Obama voters. That doesn’t leave very many voters left over. North Carolina is a swing state (or at least it was in 2008), because the coalition of Democratic base voters was quite close in size to the coalition of Republican base voters. But it wasn’t a state with a lot of persuadable voters: it’s the kind of place where elections mostly boil down to turnout, and Mr. Obama — with his considerably stronger ground game — was able to edge out a win there in 2008. ...

In theory, the more elastic the better. You'd rather live in a state where citizens will, say, turn against a corrupt politician because he's corrupt rather than hunker down and say he's an SOB but he's our SOB. (Cue Lee Kwan Yew.)

Then Silver estimates elasticity by state, using a complex methodology that I'll take his word for:

No surprise, high elasticity states tend to be white states or white/Asian states, with heavily black places being the worst, with Washington D.C. being by far the most SOB-loyal.

On the other hand, Rhode Island is pretty notoriously crooked at the local level. Interestingly, it's the only majority Catholic state in the country.

It would be interesting to try to apply this type of analysis to state and local politics. Washington D.C., which re-elected Marion Barry mayor after he got out of jail, would still be pretty SOB-loyal even compared to other cities.

What about for groups? Which voting demographics are most elastic?

32 comments:

ben tillman said...

How about that? The bottom 7 are the 7 with the highest percentage of Blacks.

Anonymous said...

Look at the ten most elastic states and the ten least elastic states: there is a strong correlation between elasticity and voting Democrat. Washington D.C. Is an anamoly.

Anonymous said...

Interested to see how the elasticity of each state changed over four years based on 2012 data, particularly the states that gained the highest proportions of new "citizens".

Norville Rogers said...

Lived there for several years, can't take seriously his list that puts R.I. with top ratio. They've had statewide Republicans (previous governor) and "Republicans" (current governor & his father) but it is at the end of the day an extremely tribal Democrat province. California, Illinois, and New Jersey are all more "elastic" by comparison--socio-economic gradations, feelings on social issues, occupational interests, etc. Silver treats white voters as magically fungible... But even high school drop-out Catholics in R.I. support the Dems to the bitter end... New Hampshire is totally different, not like a New Deal remnant but more similar to Research Triangle jerks

Anonymous said...

Nice try. You blame SOB-loyalty on blacks, but the worst states are former-Confederate, where the pols in power and their supporters are all bible-thumping white Republicans.

Black people have entirely rational reasons for voting 95% Obama, and it's held steady from the time they supported old white guys like Kerry, Gore, and Clinton. And besides, it's really pretty laughable to imply that blacks are more racially fixated when you and your followers have devoted hundreds of thousands of words to the virtues of white people/shortcomings of blacks and latinos.

The GOP relies on racial animus against blacks to hide the fact that their pro-rich policies cost America a whole lot more than the pro-poor policies of the Dems. Right now, Republicans are pushing Dems to raise revenue through tax exemption limits rather than rates. This hurts the slightly wealthy (250k-400k) and protects the super wealthy, who benefit less from exemptions. The GOP doesn't even care about most of the 1%. It's more like the top 1% of the 1%.

But y'all will keep doing what you're doing, because skin color and tribalism are a whole lot easier to understand that budget math. I guess that's also a g thing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but I still don't understand what one can glean from this other than the ranking order.

I mean if the baseline is 1, what does that actually mean? Does higher elasticity mean voters have a higher degree of elasticity, higher proportion of elastic voters, or combination of both plus other factors?

Also, even if a state is ranked as a highly elastic state, for practical purposes, its effect really depends on how inelastic and to what proportion the remainder of the voters are like and what issues the population is elastic to.

Good work, nonetheless. I'm an ass.

Anonymous said...

"But y'all will keep doing what you're doing, because skin color and tribalism are a whole lot easier to understand that budget math. I guess that's also a g thing."

It ain't nothing but a G thang baaabby...

Anonymous said...

Damn depressing is what it is.

Anonymous said...

"Black people have entirely rational reasons for voting 95% Obama, and it's held steady from the time they supported old white guys like Kerry, Gore, and Clinton."

Yeah, right. Life is really good for their kids, their future so bright. They can count on shitty schools in their shitty neighborhoods with thugs running amok, can count on their daughters getting banged early and often by charming young men who in a few years will be incarcerated. Yep, they can all delight in becoming grandmommies at a really young age so they can delight at watching the same scenario play out all over again with their grandbabies, and they can take delight in knowing that the actual savable ones, you know, the ones who are at least in the middle of the Bell Curve or even on its right half, got sucked backed into the vortex of happiness--all because of those great Democrats who keep them in such a great place in life. Uh huh, great logic on their part--keep voting for what keeps you in your place, baby.

Anonymous said...

"Black people have entirely rational reasons for voting 95% Obama, and it's held steady from the time they supported old white guys like Kerry, Gore, and Clinton."

Something I've been thinking about lately... What is it that Blacks want? The obvious answers are equality, more power, etc., but as I see it, aren't Blacks better than equal (preferred) and don't they wield more power than they know how to exercise responsibly? This isn't just an opinion, but an observable fact, that many of them even acknowledge. So the question remains, what do Blacks want?

Do they aspire for total domination, a la South African style? My guess is that one would be hard pressed to find many Blacks who view SA as an ideal society to live in. So I'm still vexed.

Is it world domination? Who would want to live in that? Anyone can move to Africa today if that's what one wants. The flow of immigration suggests that Blacks don't want that either.

Do Blacks even know what they want?

Maybe it's just about taking down the White devil regardless of the consequences? Does anyone have any other theories?

Reg Cæsar said...

Republicans are pushing Dems to raise revenue through tax exemption limits rather than rates. This hurts the slightly wealthy (250k-400k) and protects the super wealthy, who benefit less from exemptions. -anonymous (naturally)

What protects the super-wealthy is the fact that income is taxed, but assets aren't. If you're a billionaire, you don't want unwashed millionaires catching up to you. So you support the income tax and the Dems-- cf. Soros, Buffett, et al.


Black people have entirely rational reasons for voting 95% Obama, and it's held steady from the time they supported old white guys like Kerry, Gore, and Clinton.

The "entirely rational reason" is that they can't make it in a free and competitive market without a whole lotta crutches. Obama then thanks them by replacing them in the workforce with Mexicans. Blacks have now endorsed the view that they are an inferior and expensive source of labor.

Say what you will about crackers, they picked up on it right away when the Donkey stabbed them in the back. Blacks? Not so much...

Reg Cæsar said...

Note that the most elastic states are also those most open to third-party efforts. might be a good place to start the counter-revolution.

Thurmond and Wallace carried the least elastic states, true, but those weren't genuine third parties. They were dissident Democrats leveraging the Electoral College. Their strategy required a lot of traditional party discipline to carry off.

Cail Corishev said...

"if we went into another recession"

Another? Can we stop the current one first?

Thats' a nice example of pro-Democrat media bias. It's not all about media people shouting "Dems good, Reps bad." It's a lot more about little nudges and falsehoods, most of them not even intentional, sprinkled throughout all the news and entertainment a person encounters all day long, day after day, constantly shifting the person's viewpoint to the left without him ever feeling like an argument has been made.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Lee Kuan Yew is one of the most corrupt politicians on the planet.

He is Singapore's paramount leader and the head of one of the sovereign wealth funds. His son is prime minister, and his daughter-in-law runs the other fund.

The Lees force work-a-day Singaporeans to hand over the majority of their wages to the government or various government-linked corps, all of which are controlled by the Lees.

No one knows where the money goes. Anyone who asks is quickly arrested and jailed. A former President of Singapore once asked, was pushed out of office and was denied a state funeral.

If a tinpot African dictator nationalized his nation's forest, appointed himself head of the Wood Investment Corp. and paid himself a lavish salary, everyone would call it corruption.

But LKY's greatest victory is applying just enough of a veneer of credibility that most people gloss right over his family's vast fortune, where it came from and where it went.

Anonymous said...

Well, with California i'm still suprised there are birchers Hate illegal immirgatoin but hate socialism more which is why the Republican elite which they don't like can stil use them.

Anonymous said...

Massachusetts?! Just because of the Scott Brown special election victory, or because we occasionally elect RINO types governor to perfunctorily fight the worst excesses of our 85% Democratic legislature?

It just re-elected a congressman whose wife did time for money laundering for her brothers' offshore gambling empire. He pleaded that he didn't know where all that money was coming from.

But he's a dumb Irishman married to a smart Armenian.

Sheila said...

What do blacks actually want? You're overthinking this, anonymous 12:23 AM, and you've already answered your own question. "Maybe it's just about taking down the White devil regardless of the consequences?" Bingo. Or, as Porter succinctly noted in another thread, "This sort of hostile diktat makes me wonder what might happen to Whites in Haiti once they become a minority there."

Sheila said...

Anonymous melanin-enriched concern troll at 11:18 PM: Pot, met kettle.

Dutch Boy said...

The elastic part is the non-Southern white working class who could be persuaded to vote Republican if the Repubs dropped their idiotic libertarianoid economic positions (which would entail giving the big finger to the Koch bros. and their ilk).

heartiste said...

This is evidence for my theory that whites are the most ideologically diverse of the races, and that this innate compulsion to principled intellectual diversity costs them in multiracial societies composed of people who see tribal red before anything else. You will also see whites' general preference for ideological elasticity corrode in response to existential threats from growing populations of hostile (or, more charitably, culturally dissimilar) non-whites in close proximity.

Diversity + proximity = war (by whichever means).

As immigration continues apace, and the white % drops to minority-majority, expect to see the number of elastic states shrink. The first rule of fight club is: gang up on the biggest guy and cut him off at the knees. Nothing less than crass anti-majority animus subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, motivates and unifies the fringes which constitute the Democrat core.

kaganovitch said...

"It would be interesting to try to apply this type of analysis to state and local politics. Washington D.C., which re-elected Marion Barry mayor after he got out of jail, would still be pretty SOB-loyal even compared to other cities."

Irish Boston elected the great James Michael Curley WHILE he was in prison,the career of Ma and Pa Ferguson have not dissimilar trajectories. It seems to be a tribalism or populism thing . Actually the "Curley Effect" bears striking similarity to contemporary Dem policy in immigration area - He was a pioneer I tell you!

Anonymous said...

"No surprise, high elasticity states tend to be white states or white/Asian states, with heavily black places being the worst, with Washington D.C. being by far the most SOB-loyal." - Another one for Correlation implies Caucasian.

Anonymous said...

"Nice try. You blame SOB-loyalty on blacks, but the worst states are former-Confederate, where the pols in power and their supporters are all bible-thumping white Republicans." - Exactly, the white people that live near a lot of black people.

Truth said...

"How about that? The bottom 7 are the 7 with the highest percentage of Blacks."

So you're telling me that blacks vote democrat and southern crackers vote republican? Dude, I learn so much here.

Truth said...

"Yeah, right. Life is really good for their kids, their future so bright..."

Are you talking about blacks, or the type of chicks you learned to pick up in Game seminars?

Anonymous said...

With blacks, it's 'he be our sobah'--sonabitchassho.

TE said...

"Then Silver estimates elasticity by state, using a complex methodology that I'll take his word for"

Ha! Great stuff.

ben tillman said...

So you're telling me that blacks vote democrat and southern crackers vote republican? Dude, I learn so much here.

Apparently, it's news to someone.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, right. Life is really good for their kids, their future so bright..."

Truth: "Are you talking about blacks, or the type of chicks you learned to pick up in Game seminars?"

Yes, I am talking about blacks, Truth, and btw, I'm a former public school teacher (35 years), and a woman, a straight woman too so I don't pick up chicks nor have I done more than read two or three of those silly Game things that Roissy had so much success foisting on pathetic nerds.

Anonymous said...

But y'all will keep doing what you're doing, because skin color and tribalism are a whole lot easier to understand that budget math. I guess that's also a g thing.

You seem to imply then that those wise black voters have got a handle on the budget math while the dumb whites vote like a monolithic tribal bloc.

This is an implication Ive seen put about in 2008 as well.

Fascinating.

Anonymous said...

LKY's greatest victory is applying just enough of a veneer of credibility that most people gloss right over his family's vast fortune, where it came from and where it went.

True enough but he and his Chinese clique take care to make sure that everyday law enforcement is effective, public health works, businesses can operate and hey, the trains run on time ;-)

A standard African Big Man wouldnt bother with any of that stuff, couldnt supply it at all.

Outliers said...

My 2 cents re: fielding a (successful) nat'l "elastic" candidate/party:

Look at whatever seemed to work in Massachusetts--and do the exact opposite