March 2, 2008

Will "affordable family formation" remain dominant in a McCain-Obama fight?

As I've been pointing out for years, in both 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush's share of the vote by state correlated closely with the rate of family formation among whites, which in turn correlated with the affordability of housing and decent schooling.

Will this pattern be seen again in 2008?

Keep in mind that the theory of affordable family formation doesn't tell you who's going to get elected President. It merely says that the relative voting orientation of a state is driven by how affordable marriage and children are among non-Hispanic whites in that state.

My first guess regarding 2008 would be that the correlations will almost certainly go down because they were so high in the last two elections that they can hardly go up any further.

Back in 1988, the correlations between white total fertility and Bush the Elder's share of the vote by state was about 70% as large as in 2000/2004. In 1992 and 1996, the relationship either dropped sharply or grew, depending on how you treat Perot's votes. The correlation between white total fertility and the GOP candidate's share by state went way down versus 1988, but if you add Perot's votes to Bush/Dole's votes, the center-right share's correlation with white total fertility went up.

Bush the Younger, for all his peculiarities, was apparently seen by voters as a fairly generic Republican candidate, and they also viewed Gore and Kerry as fairly generic Democratic candidates, allowing the underlying dynamic of affordability of family formation to drive the voting.

On the other hand, unusual candidates could upset the relationship. My guess would be that if the candidates in 2008 were Hillary, the feminist with one child, and Romney, the business executive with five children (especially if Romney weren't a Mormon), affordable family formation would again rule the day.

On the other hand, I can't really begin to guess what impact McCain and Obama would have on the distribution of voting among states.

Another issue is that I don't have enough to see how fast voting patterns respond to changes in, say, total fertility. The latest Census Bureau statistics on non-Hispanic white total fertility by state, for example, is a report on 2002. My guess would be that numbers from a half-decade ago would remains reasonably useful -- that this isn't the kind of thing that changes year-to-year.

Any thoughts on what we'll likely see at the state level in 2008?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...


If your theory of affordable family formation driving conservative voting preferences is true, consider the recent housing proposals in light of it. Might the Democrats be seeking to keep housing expensive to restrain affordable family formation?

- Fred

Anonymous said...

Did you actually write "51 states" ?

Anonymous said...

Might the Democrats be seeking to keep housing expensive to restrain affordable family formation?

Maybe, but they're also a) propping up the home values of white liberals; and b) keeping a huge subsidy in place for mostly minority Democrats.

It's a no lose situation for them, unless the folks in the rest of the country take note. I somehow doubt that folks in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, and (perhaps) Pennsylvania have seen their home values soar enough to need being propped up. Seems like it leaves an opening for the GOP in the fall in these states: "The Democrats tried to use billions of your tax dollars to prop up home values on the Left Coast." What, would the GOP be concerned about losing California?

Anonymous said...

The real problem with AFF and voting patterns is that folks in the affordable family formation block may not see their votes for supposedly AFF-leaning candidates paying off. The GOP was supposed to be the party of law-and-order and closed borders, but they haven't been under Bush and won't be under McCain.

They'll still have reason to oppose welfare-supporting candidates. One would think (hope) McCain would at least be solid on fiscal sanity, though when the chips are down that me be the first principle he'd be willing to trade in exchange for, say, bombing Iraq or a "guest" worker program.

Jim Bowery said...

You might consider looking at the by-county data from Illinois during Obama's election there and comparing it to other election cycles in Illinois.

kurt9 said...

The only think McCain believes in is that he should "be in charge" of things. He has no other beliefs.

I often think Obama would be a better choice than McCain, and I am a 3rd generation republican voter.

Anonymous said...

Right Kurt. Because a guy with innate hostility to middle/working class whites and Louis Farrakhan lite is not a hard core radical. If anything Barack Hussein Obama is more of a Benneton ad than Amnesty McLettuce.

Sometimes you have dog poop on all paths of your walk, and you have to choose which way has the least amount of poop that is most easily cleaned off.

Anonymous said...

Wrong kurt. McCain has to play to the conservatives somewhat. At least you might get a decent supreme court justice with McCain. With Osama you dont stand a chance.

Anonymous said...

At least you might get a decent supreme court justice with McCain. With Osama you dont stand a chance.

I suspect neither will make a good president. The question is which party you want to get blamed for the first two years of lousy, ineffective leadership? Personally I'd prefer the Democrats get blamed for it. That means a Clinton or Obama presidency.

Yes, there's probably more dog poop if we walk Obama's way. But the Democrats will end up stepping in most of it.

And personally I'd prefer that Hillary win, especially in Texas tomorrow, because I'd love to see the Democratic coalition shatered by blacks pissed by Hispanic voters who defeated their Great Black Hope. It might move the 40 or so members of the CBC into the enforcement column - and maybe Obama himself, too.

And Supreme Court justices? McCain's not realy all that serious about nominating strict constructionists. With Democrats in solid control of the Senate he wouldn't even be able to do that, so he's more likely to give us another Souter or Blackmun.