March 7, 2008

Will family formation determine the 2008 election?

Via Matt Yglesias, I found SurveyUSA's tables of Presidential polling in all 50 states (but not DC), as of early March. In each state, 600 voters were surveyed on McCain vs. Obama and McCain vs. Clinton match-ups.

They show McCain losing narrowly in the Electoral College against either Democrat. But that's not what I'm interested in. I want to know whether family formation among non-Hispanic whites will paint the electoral map red or blue again. The answer appears to be: yes, although not quite as much as in 2000 and 2004.

Here are the correlation coefficients (not the r-squareds) for recent two-party races (leaving out the 1992 and 1996 elections that were perturbed by Perot), and leaving out Washington D.C. (an outlier that typically falls beautifully on the best fit line):

Correlation Coefficients 1988 Bush 2000 Bush 2004 Bush 2008 McCain-Obama 2008 McCain-Clinton
Years Married Whites 2000 0.54 0.84 0.86 0.71 0.68
Total Fertility Whites 2002 0.59 0.79 0.80 0.56 0.76

Overall, family formation appears more somewhat more important if Hillary is in the race than if Obama is. I assume that's because Hillary is more of a known quantity, while Obama remains more of a blank slate upon which people are invited to fill in their fantasies.

I would assume that if 2008 elections were held today, the actual 2008 correlations would be higher because they'd be based on the universe of voters, not on samples of 600 per state, which injects random errors into the 2008 numbers, thus lowering correlations. On the other hand, as I've said before, the odds are that the November 2008 correlations will be lower than 2000/2004, both because they were so high in 2000 and 2004 that regression toward the mean will likely kick in; and because those two races featured fairly generic Republican and Democratic candidates, while only Hillary at present looks like a standard representative of her party. Also, the correlations would be higher if SurveyUSA had surveyed Washington D.C. -- it helps drive up the correlations to stratospheric levels because, being, in effect, a city-state, it's an outlier that falls right on the best fit lines).

Both McCain, who considered switching parties early in the decade, and (at least at present, Obama) are more sui generis than Bush and Gore/Kerry. On the other hand, Obama has been running so far as a bipartisan centrist. Eventually, I would assume, people will figure out where he's really coming from, so a McCain-Obama race would likely end up more like 2000/2004 than it looks like now.

It's not exactly clear what, besides decent judicial appointments, the Republicans are doing to merit the support of family-oriented voters and how long the can keep harvesting these votes without doing much in return.

By the way, I get a lot of knee-jerk criticism for correlating demographic statistics just for whites with election results summing all races. But, when you stop and think about it, that makes my findings even more unexpected and interesting. (I offered some explanations for why there's a better fit between voting by state with white family formation rates than with total family formation rates in the American Conservative in 2004.)

These correlations above would be higher if Washington D.C.

And this isn't just post hoc data mining on my part. The 2004 results confirmed a theory I had started to outline even before the 2000 election. I wrote about the connection between Total Fertility Rates and conservatism/liberalism in the case of two mostly white state -- Utah and Vermont -- in VDARE in June of 2000, before the 2000 election. And on 11/22/2000, I pointed out on UPI that Bush had beaten Gore in the 19 states with the highest white total fertility rate.

Methodology: As you'll recall, the second statistic, Total Fertility Rate, is a well-established measurement for estimating the number of babies a woman would have between ages 15 and 44 based on birthrates by age in a particular year. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau hasn't published total fertility rates by ethnicity by state for any year since 2002, so this statistic is starting to get a little dusty.

The first statistics, Years Married 18-44 is one I invented, modeled upon TFR, to denote the average number of years a woman can expect to be married between ages 18 and 44 based on rates of being married in a particular year. I only have it for the 2000 Census, so it's even more out of date.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Obama has not been running as a bipartisan centrist. On the contrary he's been running as an "aspirational" consumer good for hard-left rich yuppies. The Volvo, Apple Computer, Ben and Jerry's Candidate.

Which has limited his appeal.

Look at those Obama! videos out of Very "lifestyle aspirational" and thus limiting itself to non-family formation people. Rich young people and older rich yuppies.

Anonymous said...

Technical Comment.

I think if the sample is truly random then the true correlation (observed after the election) could be either higher or lower than the correlation you observed in the sample.

Anonymous said...

Are these people on crack they show Obama winning North Dakota.

More importantly, Obama will have a tough time winning Ohio. He has no traction amongst the trade unionists and rural whites in this state. And without Ohio, Democrats can't break through the Red-Blue divide.

Anonymous said...

More importantly, Obama will have a tough time winning Ohio.

Well, Obama lost the non-black Ohio Democratic vote by 30 points to Hillary. So I'd say "Yep!"...

Anonymous said...

Steve, the "conservatives" failed to stop mass non-white immigration. That was national suicide and checkmate. The writing is on the wall - family formation trendlines or not.

Mass immigration has turned all the big Electoral college heavyweights blue. California, Florida, New York and yes, Texas are all going to go blue in 2008.

Demography is destiny. Duh, duh, duh, idiot conservatives.

Here is a link from a top space ad at Drudge this morning, a new book written by Senator David Boren:

Quote from Boren: "America is in trouble because its people are losing faith in the country’s future."

Gee, Steve, do you think that statement has any connection to the study from 2007 that found Los Angeles has an extremely low sense of community and social cohesion due to mass immigration?

Do we think America's people might be losing faith in the country's future because the country has been radically transformed and is going to be majority non-white very soon, and the history of majority non-white societies is clearly not encouraging at all?

Inquiring minds may want to visit and count the number of majority non-white nations that appear near the top of the list of most transparent societies in the world.

Anonymous said...

It seems impossible that America will ever have a truly -popular- president again. We will have a president that a few like, and many more dislike each time. Ah, the benefits of diversity.

Anonymous said...

The country's problems and lack of faith have more to do with the fact that we've gone through an entire economic cycle without most people seeing any upside.

These days a crappy economy elects Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Everybody is popular in the hindsight of their admirers. I wouldn't be surprised if even George W. is treated more kindly by history than he has been by the media and popular fanfare.

The Republican Party might be fissioning a little bit. There are now the Lou Dobbs nativist Populists, who think differently than the NeoCons. And then there are free market folks who are more in line with the NeoCons for now, but not all free marketers support "invade the world" military intervention.

Is Hillary the Affordable Family Formation candidate? She is allied with the Unions and is against NAFTA, as is Obama.

Anonymous said...

"More importantly, Obama will have a tough time winning Ohio.

Well, Obama lost the non-black Ohio Democratic vote by 30 points to Hillary. So I'd say "Yep!"..."

I don't understand why any white is voting for Obama. He and his wife (and their entourage) seem to have nothing but contempt for whites. So why should whites want to hurt themselves by voting for him?

Anonymous said...

"and the history of majority non-white societies is clearly not encouraging at all? "

You bet! It may be boring, but the recent poster childr of this exact trend is South Africa, with Rhodesia before that. Decolonisation in Africa is the template for the US, thanks to the liberal establishment.

But then the US had a huge role in this decolonisation process so I guess it makes sense that it is aplied to the US itself. Anyway, you can kiss all that military power good bye.

Dutch Boy said...

I wonder how much longer the Republican hustle can last. I gave up on them long ago and I ought to be a stereotypical Republican voter: white, male, Christian, married, large family, veteran, gun owner,single income, middle class, college-educated (I'm a walking stereotype!). There have to be plenty more people out there who are done trying to find the pea under the Republican shell!

Anonymous said...

A little off-topic, but two points:

1) As usual, I feel like you have the causation backwards here - it would be my position that childbearing Caucasians [overwhelmingly Republican] seek out those areas where childbearing is affordable, and childless Caucasians [overwhelmingly Democrat] seek out those areas where childbearing is prohibitively expensive.

2) But, having said that, let's assume for the sake of argument that a lowered "cost of family formation" might somehow induce childless Caucasians [and Asians] to start making babies again. Then my question would be: What would the campaign platform of a "lowering the cost of family formation" candidate look like?

If your answer is something along the lines of, "Increase the child tax credit from $1,000 per year to $12,000 per year", then, ah, you're already a Republican and you're preaching to the choir.