Why has the economic crisis deepened America’s conservative drift? The trend towards the hard right is most pronounced in the least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.

Why?

It is a fascinating glimpse into the Human (or is it American?) Psyche — and I am very curious about it:

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Consider these fascinating bullet points from Gallup:

• Conservative states are considerably more religious than liberal-leaning states. And, this correlation between religion is increasing

• Conservative states are also less educated than liberal ones; This correlation between conservative affiliation and education (percent of adults who are college graduates) is also substantially higher than before.

• States with more conservatives are less diverse.

• Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with the percent of the population that are immigrants or gay and lesbian.

• There is no correlation to race or ethnicity, however, whether measured as percent white, percent black, or percent Hispanic (Fascinating).

• Conservative political affiliation is strongly correlated with percentage of a state’s workforce in blue-collar occupations;

• Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with proportion of workforce engaged in knowledge-based professional and creative work.

• States with more conservatives are considerably less affluent than those with more liberals.

• Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with state income levels and even more so with average hourly earnings.

I don’t know about you, but I find these datapoints amazing. Can anyone explain the thought process under this? It is not what I was expecting . . .

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Source:
Why America Keeps Getting More Conservative

Richard Florida
Reuters, Feb 13, 2012
http://m.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/02/why-america-keeps-getting-more-conservative/1162/

Category: Data Analysis, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

123 Responses to “Is America Becoming More Conservative? Why?”

  1. Frilton Miedman says:

    Fox network’s 60% viewer audience – re: Plato’s allegory/Plato’s cave

  2. investorinpa says:

    You got me on this one. The only thing I can attribute to any of this is that there has to be an “Age” component, no? Older folks tend to be more religious, less tolerant to gays, have lower incomes as they get older, and less likely to have graduated with a college degree?

  3. frankswildyears3 says:

    give Thomas Frank’s “Whats the Matter with Kansas?” it goes into these issues

  4. boogabooga1114 says:

    Just go back and read “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Right, wrong or indifferent, culture wars explain it all.

  5. One way to look at it; Politics can be mapped with just two variables – wealth and tolerance of uncertainty. When an individual accumulates a certain amount of wealth their orientation shifts from seeking change to benefit themselves to seeking security to protect what they have accumulated. That point varies from person to person depending on their individual tolerance for uncertainty.

    In a recession uncertainty increases, especially for the working class. When uncertainty increases the demand for scapegoats and absolutes rises and that plays right into the worst instincts of conservatives.

  6. RW says:

    The best explanation’s I’ve seen boil down to a modern version of tribalism, a confirmation of identity and place; e.g., economic self-interest requires analysis but agreeing with “people like me” is as natural as pissing when your bladder is full.

  7. jeffg says:

    The ignorant fall for lines like “Don’t tax the job creators”, “a flat tax is a fairer tax”, “insurance companies can deliver health care much cheaper that government run systems like in Europe”, “if you tax the rich 3% more, the country will plunge into a recession”, etc. more than people who are smart. Also, people who live in rural areas vote their guns and are more self reliant – know many Republican Union member who fall for “Democrats want to take your guns away” line, despite the Clinton / Obama years where guns are no harder to own.

  8. ak3515 says:

    Today’s religion teaches that belief is everything, facts are irrelevant. This feeds into the right revolutionaries who also live in a world populated with fictions whether it’s free markets or Obama is a socialist.

  9. slowkarma says:

    The US is not split between conservative and liberal. It’s actually a four-way split: conservative (both fiscal and social); populist (fiscally liberal in most ways, social conservative in most ways); liberal (both fiscal and social) and libertarian (mostly fiscally conservative, mostly socially liberal.)

    Since at least the Civil War, libertarianism has been an insignificant force (though that could be changing.) The largest group is populist, but populism care rarely find its voice, because it is much feared by both the liberals and conservatives, who will cooperate to tear populism apart whenever it rears its ugly head. (See Roosevelt & the Kingfish.)

    As a result, American politics for many decades has essentially been a struggle between the liberals and conservatives for the votes of the populists. When economic issues dominate, the populists swing to the liberals, with whom they mostly (but not entirely) agree. Hence, Obama, at a time when fiscal issues were paramount. When social issues dominate, the populists swing to the conservatives. Populists also tend to support the military. Lately, the issues of gay marriage, racial preferences, welfare, state interference with religion, “good Americanism” (if I can call it that) and “responsibility” tend to push the populists to the right.

    But, they are torn — they are also strong supporters of Social Security and Medicare, which are generally liberal issues. The thing is, the “responsibility” issue pushed by conservatives threatens the populists from the other direction: they are being told that liberal profligacy actually threatens those programs (hence, the enthusiasm for the Tea Party in populist-trending states.)

    I think what we are seeing is a yearning for the good ol’ days, when America had money for everything. More and more people are beginning to believe that if we continue as we have been, we’ll go broke and could even lose out place in the world as a dominant power. So, the midwestern, southern and western states, which have always had a strong populist impulse, are trending conservative. If Obama could actually convince them that there still IS money for everything, I think they’d start trending the other way.

  10. primordial_ooze says:

    Barry,
    Notice the coincidence of your map with this map.
    2008 Estimates of the Percentage of Adults with Diagnosed Diabetes
    http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_STRS2/NationalDiabetesPrevalenceEstimates.aspx?mode=OBS

    What does that say? Are these the conservatives that cost the taxpayers a bundle through medicare?
    That government program they want to cut?

  11. scottinnj says:

    I really hate to go there…but… seems most of the gains are concentrated in the old Confederate States. Maybe something happened in 2008 to tick them off?

  12. Joe Friday says:

    Is America Becoming More Conservative?

    Apparently not. Ed Kilgore addressed this the other day:

    If you look at the Gallup data on which Florida’s entire “analysis” (mainly just a charting of ideological self-identification by state) rests, it certainly doesn’t show any dramatic recent rightward trend. The percentage of Americans self-identifying as “conservative” since 1992 has varied from a low of 36% to a high of 40% (a high it reached in 2004, before dropping to 37% in 2008). As it happens, the percentage of Americans (again, according to Gallup) self-identifying as “liberal” has also gone up 4% since 1992 (from 17% to 21%). The percentage self-identifying as “moderates” has, accordingly, drifted down from 43% in 1992 to 35% in 2011, though the number was only two points higher in 2007 and 2008.

    If you want a simple explanation of this very small trend, it’s pretty obvious: the increasing ideological rigidity of one of America’s two major political parties, along with the media infrastructure supporting it. And it’s at best a mixed blessing for the GOP, because whatever pull its exerts on self-identifying conservatives is offset by its lack of appeal to self-identifying moderates, whom Democrats routinely carry in close elections.

    MORE

  13. M says:

    “You’ve gotta remember… these are people of the land… the common clay… You know… Morons”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHJbSvidohg

    More seriously, I think a good deal of the paradox of “voting against self interest” comes down to Roe. For people who believe that abortion is murder the details of tax policy and labor law are comparatively insignificant. The rest of the culture wars are, I suspect, harmonics of, or at least greatly amplified by the abortion debate.

  14. M says:

    I wish there was an editor! I did a horrible job with that comment.

    At any rate, the question was why do we see an entrenchment of conservative politics now among people who likely would benefit from more liberal policies. And, I think the answer is that discomfort from the crisis is causing radicalization but a leftward movement is intolerable because of the abortion issue so the only outlet is to the right.

  15. jeff in indy says:

    education and geographic location is no measure of intelligence, as evidenced by some previous posts. come on out and live with us sometime, but don’t drink the water.

  16. MayorQuimby says:

    Is this a joke? Americans now accept big gvmt, socialized everything, gay rights, a black president, global warming, obamacare and generally want to eat the rich.

    And you’re telling me we’re shifting to the RIGHT????

    Hahahahaha

  17. Ramstone says:

    Guess Gallup forgot “Conservative states are net beneficiaries of Federal Pork”.

  18. the Map doesn’t ‘Track’ with this statement:

    “…The trend towards the hard right is most pronounced in the least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states…”

    does it?

    but, speaking of ‘Culture Wars’ (and ‘Echo Chambers’)..thought this http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/victory_lab/2012/02/project_narwhal_how_a_top_secret_obama_campaign_program_could_change_the_2012_race_.single.html

    was interesting..

  19. Dick Watson says:

    Tom Franks raised the question in “What’s the Matter with Kansas”, but never answered it definitively. I agree with RW above, who explains it as “tribalism.” The average Joe wants to identify with the guy a few rungs up the ladder. He has bought into the idea that if the government just leaves him alone he can move up to that rung. His prejudices don’t allow him to see how badly a legislature completely beholden to Corporate America is screwing him in big and little ways.

    Down here in South Carolina, race is an additional factor. Joe Six Pack does not want to be in the same political party or vote for the same people as southern blacks. He has been raised to resent his money being taken to support welfare queens and other stereotypes.

    And yes Quimby, right now white America is being manipulated to the RIGHT. Close your mouth, stop drinking the coolaid, and open your eyes. Demographics will catch us in a decade or two and then we will go left. But not right now.

    Nice job on Bloomberg tonight, BR.

  20. barbacoa666 says:

    Today’s conservatism is an alliance between socially liberal, wealthy folks who want to preserve their wealth, and socially conservative/religious middle class folks. In this scheme, the wealthy get to keep their money, and the social conservatives get to run everyone’s lives. Both agree that the government is bad, so they have a common goal if limiting government.

  21. uzer says:

    in a word, propaganda. it works.

  22. David in D says:

    I’m actually writing a dissertation on money and religion right now (and am an active reader of TBP). I don’t have a lot of time to comment, but basically some of the bullet points listed are actually contradictory. For instance, it might surprise you to find that contrary to popular perception religious people in America are more educated and more affluent than their irreligious peers. That said, on a statistical basis the number of Evangelicals is increasing (as a percentage of the public) while Mainline denominations are slightly decreasing (although this gets complicated when you drill down on it) which points to a generally more conservative religious grouping.

    If I had time I would talk about cognitive levels of development, sometimes referred to as epistemic levels. I do think there is a correlation between the way someone thinks they ‘know’ things (their ‘epistemology’) and their political bent. It gets really complicated but I think there is something to this.

    All in all, I’m convinced there aren’t easy answers to these questions; but the trend is interesting.

  23. redcharlie says:

    This surprises you Barry? Poor people voting against their economic interest is a constant in the history of our republic. You really never noticed this until now?

    Also, with the exception of Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah, red states are moochers.
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/red-moochers/
    It’s like they want to bite the hand that feeds them.

    Or in the words of John Stewart Mill, “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill

  24. wally says:

    Once you accept the idea that public opinion in the US can be bought, this makes sense.
    Ideas now sold as ‘conservative’ are used as a smokescreen to get politicians in office who will raid the finances but ignore social policy. This benefits the wealthiest, who pay the way for those politicians. “W” is the A-one example of such a politician.
    And who buys into this bait-and-switch… why, the gullible, obviously.

  25. Theravadin says:

    There’s one other factor: It used to be that the working class identified with unions, and the Democrats, whom they saw as populists fighting for them. But more recently unions have largely abandoned their populist roots, and become representatives of (another) embedded privileged class – unionized workers. The Democrats allowed themselves to be painted as a technicratic party of intellectual privilege… and to some extent that was exactly who they had become, so it wasn’t too hard a sell for the right. This left the populist space unoccupied… and the right figured that out, and moved right in.

    The good news is that the right is fatally flawed in this space by their simultaneous alliegence to the big money interests. Sooner or later this inherent contradiction will tear them apart… and it looks to me like it is already starting to happen.

    But the real question for the Democrats and the left is how they reclaim the populist space. Obama had an opening, but it has taken him 4 years to realize it… if indeed he has even now… which may have been fatal. Why? Because at his heart, I think, Obama is a technocrat/intellectual. The Democraatic party needed a fighting populist… but they didn’t get it.

    Too bad

  26. lalaland says:

    I’d like to see that map by population-bubble rather than state boundaries. It’s still 50/50 more or less population-wise.

    Also, I think the bit about race is HIGHLY misleading. You may not be able to predict the conservativeness of a state based on it’s racial mix but that’s because the deep south is so heavily black and states like Texas, Arizona and California are heavily central/south American, but the white people in those states are the most conservative of all! I think the West definitely is a little different; a more libertarian bunch bound to hate the government because the feds own 70% of the land and thus creates policy that restricts them more than anywhere else.

    My own pet theory is that the vast SPACE in the interior (I did spend 5 years in Indiana and 10 years of camping out West as a kid so I’ve at least had a taste) lends itself to distrust the far-flung gov’t more than, say, here in NYC where I can go visit any number of state, federal, and city gov’t offices if I have a problem that I want addressed. Liberals view government as a responsive agent for good because they are close to it; in the heartland your nearest gov’t office could be hundreds of miles away, and barely staffed, so that’s less likely to give them impression it’s there to serve you, the citizen.

    I attribute it to Fox, population changes (especially in the plains and south where traditional white populations are declining and being replaced with Hispanics), but mainly to whites wanting to be in power and dominate. I also think white conservatism is steeped in nostalgia and better suited for the timeless-feeling interior rather than the obviously forward looking coasts. Lastly, Blacks and Hispanics may be very conservative religiously or socially, but they know the Republican party has a racist, classist base (albeit a delusional one that thinks they are all better off than you) and they certainly don’t vote for Republicans in the same number as white people.

  27. Frilton Miedman says:

    slowkarma Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 9:27 pm
    “The US is not split between conservative and liberal. It’s actually a four-way split: conservative (both fiscal and social); populist (fiscally liberal in most ways, social conservative in most ways); liberal (both fiscal and social) and libertarian (mostly fiscally conservative, mostly socially liberal.)”

    ~~~~~

    Excellent observation I’ve noted myself, as a Libertarian I need to complicate this even more by distinguishing two versions of the term “personal liberty” -

    At the onset of the crash in ’08, hearing pundits on Fox, CNBC and other media outlets profess terms like “personal liberty”, “free markets” and “rugged individualism” at a time when it was obvious that the Bush era Les Affaires approach had allotted far too much “freedom” (monopoly) to wealthy/corporate entities, it occurred me that “personal” and “corporate” were being conveniently thrown together for an agenda that had nothing to do with me (personal), or anyone with a net worth of less than multiple millions.

    The mantra for Libertarianism has always been “personal liberty” and the problem is that to a billionaire, “personal liberty” is not the same to him as it is to me.

    I cannot buy the government with tens of millions in “secret” superPAC campaign funds through the chamber of commerce the way Dave Koch did in 2010.

    I cannot pay members of Congress to filibuster against raising my 15% personal income tax rate the way Mitt Romney did in 2007 and then respond “it’s perfectly legal” several years later when asked why he pays so little…none of that is “personal liberty”, it’s tax evasion via bribery.

    Another misconception of Libertarianism, we want government out of our personal business, less regulation and taxation, but,
    If you remove government altogether, something else steps in place, and that will be the one(s) with the most power and wealth, another name for this is corporatism, a form of Fascism – extreme, life or death, social Darwinism. (the way Hitler wanted it.)

    For the wealthy person, it feels like an impingement on his right to free speech to not be allowed to “speak” with his money via D.C. lobbyists, campaign funding (bribery) or paid media time/use of influence over media.

    This is particularly dangerous when that person is so far removed of the life the majority of Americans live as to not understand that a “ten thousand” dollar bet amounts to what most Americans make in six months….he has absolutely no concept of what’s in the best interests of regular Americans, yet exudes the bulk of control over our government.

    To me, that persons “free speech” equates to monopoly, insurrection and bribery, by constricting my right to fairness in opportunity by drowning my own freedom of speech, effectively, his “free speech” has become a monopoly that constricts my own personal liberty when we ignore the Constitutions prohibition of bribery.

    “He” being the Dave & Charles Koch or Rupert Murdoch’s of the World, individuals who convince themselves that their agenda is for the betterment of everyone, but have become entirely disconnected from the reality that everyone lives in while allowing themselves almost complete control over my government.

  28. Overseas American says:

    This is an excellent example of cognitive dissonance:
    “The trend towards the hard right is most pronounced in the … most economically hard-hit states.”

    Here are the facts. The population-weighted average unemployment rates (Dec 2011) of the three categories of states are:
    Conservative: 8.1%
    Average: 8.5%
    Liberal: 9.1%

    There IS a correlation here, but it is opposite of the correlation implied in the words: “The trend towards the hard right is most pronounced in the … most economically hard-hit states.”

    Sources:
    http://www.bls.gov/lau/
    http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/population.html

  29. donna says:

    It’s also an urban/rural split as well. Urban areas tend to be more liberal, higher income, more diversified. Rural areas are more conservative, lower income, less diversity. Education has a lot to do with it — higher education typically means someone is more open to learning and changing opinion and more exposed to different cultures. A lot of it is also media access — urban areas have limited media — conservative talk radio and Fox News, typically.

    Religion is a bit of a scapegoat — Republicans used to play off religious ideology to gain voters, but when it office really give it lip service unless it’s an election year as Wally stated. We’re seeing far more votes now of a religious and social conservative nature verging on unconstitutional. I think Republicans are really playing a dangerous game here that is about to shift the tide of voters against them.

  30. nanka says:

    • Conservative political affiliation is strongly correlated with percentage of a state’s workforce in blue-collar occupations;

    • States with more conservatives are considerably less affluent than those with more liberals.

    • Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with state income levels and even more so with average hourly earnings.

    These may be the greatest indicators, and of course, those less educated are less likely to work in “knowledge” industries. They cannot afford the luxuries of the philosophies of the relatively wealthy. Nature is inherently conservative. Wealthy countries, or those that live relatively wealthy, and on any measure the vast majority of the US is comparatively wealthy-or at least living that way on the national credit card, can afford a relative idealism as to how the world should operate.

    Love this: “Conservative states are also less educated than liberal ones”

    Well, that depends on how you define education. Think about how many “majors” for which one can receive a degree, that are relatively useless outside of academia or think tanks. Women’s Studies comes to mind, but I’m sure there are 100′s of others. Really, how much at universities is about critical thinking(education), and how much is indoctrination. Now, can blue collar “uneducated” lumpens get the wool pulled over them…sure, but I wonder how many liberally educated people were in favor of the boondoggle that is ethanol, or, those wonderful, bankrupt solar and battery companies.

    Now, as we become less wealthy, and living standards drop, people’s willingness to tolerate ideological pie-in-the sky will also drop, and the population will become more conservative, because they can no longer afford such intellectual masturbation. Think about it. For all intents and purposes, “retirement” for the masses is a concept of the 20th century born out of the wealth of WWII and a pyramid scheme called Social Security (that has suffered significant mission creep) that depended on a high worker to retiree ratio. Health insurance also came out of WWII, and was significantly more affordable with a younger population, whether publicly run or privately run, now actuarial reality arises as we see “public services” cut to pay for retirement and health-care.

    Now, it is almost irrelevant. With the huge government related employment, and the Tocquevillian nature of the bureaucracy and the legal webs woven around them, not much functionally/operationally is likely to change unless it collapses.

    Having said that will the wealthy/powerful top of the pyramid continue to take the lion’s share. Of course. Just as they have through the vast majority of human history. Congress doesn’t live by the same laws we do, nor did the Politburo, or the Roman Senate. Mmmmhhh…didn’t those societies collapse?

  31. Frilton Miedman says:

    ” Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with proportion of workforce engaged in knowledge-based professional and creative work.”

  32. Futuredome says:

    The whole world ” conservative and liberal” need to die. Politics needs overhauled. Somebody comes by and shake the tree.

  33. panskeptic says:

    First of all, don’t believe everything Gallup says. They skew right, and more so recently.

    Secondly, in tough times, wingnuttery increases. Hence receptivity to Fox News’ alternate reality, and the Teabaggers takeover of the Republican Party.

    You will find significant historical parallels to the U.S. in the 1930′s. Father Coughlin = Glenn Beck. Most notably read about the attempt to manipulate unemployed veterans to march on Washington under General Smedley Butler, and partially financed by Bush’s grandfather, ultimately to march on the White House and force FDR out in a putsch.

    Fortunately, as soon as the clique of conservative businessmen revealed to Gen. Butler what their real aim was, he resigned. But unite a hostile business establishment with the disoriented unemployed, and you get Eric Cantor, Sean Hannity and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  34. Futuredome says:

    With the huge government related employment, and the Tocquevillian nature of the bureaucracy and the legal webs woven around them, not much functionally/operationally is likely to change unless it collapses.

    Sorry, but Libertarians by nature are totalitarian. The destruction of tradition and final forced slave states of the merchant caste will not be stopped through ending the natural state.

    Your “huge government employment” is a fantasy. The legal runs of the plutocracy have a bureaucracy that far outweighs it. Capitalism is the ultimate scheme, a system that destroys countries and families. This why the modern “conservative” will eventually die. Because underneath, they are nothing more then market liberals.

  35. bonzo says:

    To understand conservatism in the United States today, you have to look at conservatism in other countries and other epochs. Consider Britain in the 19th century: conservatives represented the land-owning aristocracy, liberals represented the industrialists and merchants. Similar story with Hitler, Franco, the Colonels in Greece, the various dictators in South America: conservatives represent the vested interests, typically land-owners, liberals represent the upstarts, typically industrialists and merchants, especially cutting edge industries that threaten to disrupt the status quo.

    American has become conservative because there are a lot of people who are very threatened by the changes afoot in the world. Average white middle-class people, in particular, feel extremely threatened. They are vastly overpaid compared to their counterparts in China or the rest of the developing world, and their relatively higher social status vis-a-vis minorities here with the US is also not based on a firm foundation of superior merit, greater productivity or hard work. (By minorities, think fanatically disciplined hard-working Asian immigrants, or hispanics laboring tirelessly in the hot sun, not inner city blacks with a dysfunctional culture.) There has also been an accretion of rent-extractors in the financial, healthcare, education, legal and defense complexes. We normally think of education as being a bastion of flaming leftists, but their actions belie their words–no one is dragging their feet more about progress than the universites. Just look at those caps and gowns at graduation–straight out of the middle ages. The legal industry is the same way–stuck in the middle ages.

    Conservatism has reached a high-water mark and is receding, because the older white middle-class generation is greedily hanging on to their privileges for as long as possible, and the result is that the younger whites no longer have a stake in maintaining the system. Younger whites see themselves in the same boat as younger minorities. So the divided between whites vs non-whites will soon be a divide between young vs old, and the party of the old (the Republicans) is doomed to lose that battle with time, as older whites eventually die off. As for the various entrenched interests, these will be thrown under the bus one by one, so as to distract people from going after the plutocrats who pull the strings.

  36. terryoldham says:

    Comments on this are pretty disappointing, outside of Dave in D and Overseas American. I can tell that few of you know what you’re talking about, or want to know.

  37. kaleberg says:

    There are two things going on:

    1) Conservatives are motivated by purity, in group association and respect for authority. Liberals are motivated by fairness and harm reduction. (This gets documented again and again in studies. e.g. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/316/5827/998.full)

    2) Liberal policies tend to produce better economic outcomes, so more liberal states tend to be wealthier and wind up subsidizing the conservative states, who as one might expect resent it. (Richer individuals are less progressive, but richer states are more progressive.)

    Of course, you’ve also got some history and geography in that map. There’s the old coastal trading culture as against the more isolated inland culture that you get writ large and small worldwide, and there’s the old Confederacy down south.

  38. martin66 says:

    Thomas Frank (cited by others) spoke on this topic at a recent (1/26) Commonwealth Club forum. it is available as a podcast on iTunes but not yet on the Club’s own site
    http://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2012-01-26/thomas-frank-author-whats-matter-kansas-and-pity-billionaire

  39. Zenster says:

    The new Bill Moyers February 3,2912 show ” How Do Conservatives and Liberals See the World?” featured a discussion with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. http://tinyurl.com/7a9m37z Haidt talked about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries. I was quite surprised by Haidt’s analysis but not enough to buy his new book. Bill’s new show is available over the internet live on Friday nights & at various times on TV broadcasts by local stations.

  40. Cleodus says:

    Fear. When I’m afraid I’m less rational, which leads to becoming more susceptible to over-generalized and hyper-simplified explanations about why things are as they are, who is responsible, how to fix it, et al. Fear causes retreat and retrenchment, or at the very least a circling of the wagons. (“We just need to go back to the good old days when things were simpler…”) Fear causes us to look over our shoulders. Hard to go forward when all you want to do is go back. Conservatism at its core is fear.

  41. joepie2 says:

    Rational ignorance, confirmation bias and demographics. Complex problems beget simple solutions as it’s extremely difficult to get the correct data (think single issue voters) in our democracy. Self-segregation filters info mostly out based on what’s good for your tribe (think income inequality, farm policy, energy policy, Christianism, etc.). Roughly 30 million new people in the US system every 30 years causes series critical shortages (where are the jobs, housing, medical care,etc.coming from). Take 70+ million Baby Boomers. Of course the cost of medical care will increase. Take the last two years of life costs multiplied by 70 million over 20-30 years . Why doesn’t anyone talk about the cost savings coming in 2030-2040 after all Baby Boomers like me are dead? And why not enact proactive policies now to reduce end of life costs in the short term? Easy. Rational ignorance, confirmation bias and demographics.

  42. MotownMichael says:

    More conservative? In 2001 if you would have told me we’d have a black president named Barack Hussein Obama by the end of the decade, I’d have said no way in hell…… Not buying it: demographics, and a more ethnically diverse culture are in the drivers seat now. And that guy mentioned above will get re-elected come fall.

  43. joepie2 says:

    Data point correction “30 million more folks per decade” or almost 90 million more every 30 years. Typing faster than I’m thinking at 1 AM.

  44. spigzone says:

    Sheesh, this isn’t rocket science.

    1. Obama adopted the Bush/Cheney corporatist agenda wholesale and blowtorched/lead-piped any progressive resisitance in the House and Senate. Remember at the beginning of Obama’s term how Nancy Pelosi and, to a lesser degree, Haryy Reed were all gung ho and ready to get behind and fight for Obama’s ‘progressive’ agenda, and all those progressive coalitions that were drawing lines in the sand? Obama and Rahm ‘fu*k the progressives, where they going to go’ Emmanual soon disabused them of THAT craziness and soon the only people in congress that had anything to fear from the white house were the ‘obstructionist’ progressives and ‘radical’ leftist liberals putting roadblocks in the way of Obama’s ‘bi-partisan’ proposals. That left very few championing the Progressive ideas and policies against an onslaught of conservative policies and idesa from the right wing media machine led of course by Fox News that consistently drove the national conversation.

    2. The MSM, which is owned by giant multi-national corporations, cues on establishment ‘authority’ figures with a nod to ‘controversial’ dissenting figues for ‘balance’. That left a handful of actual progressives that had ANY kind of MSM access and voice against a tidal wave of corporatist oriented voices.

    3. Since Obama is actually ACTING as a republican, promoting republican values and ideas, which appears to be the foundation of his re-election strategy – driving the republicans so far into looney tunes territory in their automatic rejection of anything he proposes and the electorate will simply be frightened into voting for him again – the national conversation ON ALL THINGS ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN POLICY and most things otherwise is cast as a debate between (what were) far right wing policies and ideas vs. looney tunes right wing ideas and policies.

    4. THERE IS NO PROGRESSIVE CASE BEING MADE IN THE ‘NATIONAL DISCUSSION. The polls keep showing the people are still for progressives policies in most areas, although far diminished from the day Obama won the election, when given a choice, but the polls are simply IGNORED py by the political establishment and the corporate/wealthy elite’s agenda is relentlessly pushed forward. The actual deisres of the majority of people are simply steamrolled so over time people get disheartened and confused and they continue to re-position themselves within the ever more conservative/corporatist ideological ‘spectrum’ that is presented as reality.

    I don’t understand how this is in any way a mystery. It could hardly be more obvious.

    And Obama is the primary driver. Under Obama the country has moved further right than the republican party would have dreamed of being able to do with a republican president.

  45. dvde says:

    Real incomes are under pressure. Risk assets are up. Gas and food prices are the story here. The shift is only anger at the current party holding the White House. If the other party were in, the shift would be towards less conservatism. Income levels play a big part in this anger. This shift is at the margin and can reverse at the margin if economic conditions change. I hardly think the overall data is good enough to make any hard conclusions at this point.

    Another important item needs to be tested. It is possible that those receiving social security and medicare believe that

  46. dvde says:

    Another important item needs to be tested. It is possible that those receiving social security and medicare believe that these payments were fairly earned through deductions from their pay checks during their working life. They do not consider this as a “free” government benefit but an earned receipt. I think the current re-characterization of these programs as a “government benefit” puts them in the perceived negative category of “welfare” for this group. It seems reasonable that this group is angry over the hypocrisy that they feel is being forced upon them. Again this needs to be researched.

  47. leveut says:

    Hail Ritholtzia

    1. redcharlie February 16th, 2012 at 10:30 pm: “…Also, with the exception of Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah, red states are moochers. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/red-moochers/…”

    It’s bad enough to cite a NYTimes Opinion writer as a source for facts, but it is hilarious when a citizen of Ritholtzia, whose proprietor is “dedicated to facts”, links to the opinion writer and is either too stupid to read a chart or who just wants to lie about it.

    2. Ramstone February 16th, 2012 at 10:09 pm: “Guess Gallup forgot “Conservative states are net beneficiaries of Federal Pork”.

    Some are some aren’t. Same for the blue states. Ooops, sorry for mentioning actual facts here in Ritholtzia. I apologize for disturbing Your Self- Righteousness.

    3. wally February 16th, 2012 at 10:38 pm: “Once you accept the idea that public opinion in the US can be bought, this makes sense. Ideas now sold as ‘conservative’ are used as a smokescreen to get politicians in office who will raid the finances but ignore social policy. This benefits the wealthiest, who pay the way for those politicians. …And who buys into this bait-and-switch… why, the gullible, obviously.”

    Of course wally, ONLY the gullible swallow the conservative line, and only those who are conservative are gullible. Unlike conservatives and the gullible who buy the conservative line, all liberals are from Lake Wobegon (where everyone is above average). And of course, The Rich only contribute to selling the conservative line…of course, in the fact free land of Ritholtzia, we can’t talk about contributions from trial lawyers, Wall Street Firms, mova mova movie stars etc. to Democrats and other Liberals. And speaking of raiding “the finances”, how are those crony capitalist solar and electric cars payouts of Obama’s working out?

    There are two things, at least, that I don’t quite understand about the viewpoints of Ritholtzians:

    A. “What’s the matter with Kansas” and “Poor people voting against their economic interest is a constant in the history of our republic. You really never noticed this until now? ”

    What I don’t quite understand is this: the Modern American Liberal, your typical Democrat and Ritholtzian, proclaims quite loudly, persistently, and annoyingly that money doesn’t matter that much, that there are things more important than money. Then, those same asses wonder what the problem is with people who do not vote based their “economic interests”, i.e. they vote based on things other than money. And then those same asses conjure up the most stupid and ignorant stereotypes to explain why those people did not vote based on their “economic interests”, which means they did not vote for Modern American Liberals and their preferred programs.

    Oh, and Modern American Liberals tell us constantly how oppressed and poor black people are, those would be the same black people who vote 90%+ for the really really smart party. Are they voting in their “economic interest”? How is that working out for them?

    B. “red states are moochers.”

    Assuming for the sake of Ritholtzian’s sanity and not desiring to introduce cognitive dissonance, so what? Modern American Liberals, such as the citizens of Ritholtzia, care. No, I mean they really really care for the stupid, the ignorant, the downtrodden, the gullible, the foolish, the uneducated, the dupes of religion…the inhabitants of all those mooching red states. And it is, they say, their Modern American Liberal DUTY to enlighten the beknighted and to spend lots of money doing it.

    The red states are merely helping the blue states, who are only inhabited by the smartest, most well informed, most caring, most educated, carry out their duty to spend money on the stupid. So why are you Ritholtzians so bothered by it all? You should be complimentary of the stupid states for helping you spend money on the stupid by taking your money from the programs you set up to send money to the stupid.

    Hail Ritholtzia, Land of Loons!

  48. bear_in_mind says:

    FEAR.

  49. leveut says:

    To the Proprietor.

    Permit me to point out that the article you link to:

    Why America Keeps Getting More Conservative

    In fact, contains NO DATA that support a claim that America is getting more, or less, conservative.

    Similarly, the “in depth” article that your linked piece in turn links to contains NO DATA that support a claim that American is getting more, or less, conservative.

    But what does that matter, eh?

  50. GetReal1 says:

    Democrats usually come to power because people believe that they care more for them/others.

    In the south, Many of the hard-working poor folks I know believe that people should be responsible for themselves, yet they have a soft heart when it comes to helping people. They tend to think conservative yet still vote for the Democrats because they believe that they care more.

    In the north, Many of the richer and smarter yet not-so-hard working folks I know tend to believe that the poor have it bad and the governement should help, so they tend to vote for the Democrats because they believe that they care more.

    Well, I’m a conservative and I believe Democrats tend to care more too, yet I know that the Democrats policies are destroying our kids’ future, hence I cannot stand them. What do the Republicans have to offer? At this point not much, and I can’t stand them either.

    This country isn’t ready for what needs to be done because most people have had a taste of the good life and do not want to see it slip away. Unfortunately the good life was built built upon the debt supercycle seen over the past 30+ years and it just cannot go on forever. It will probably take a Republican to help clean up this mess as the Democrats do not want to see or be a part of the suffering that will ensue. Times will be good again, but only after we have shed our excesses.

  51. Fred C Dobbs says:

    You will find the answer to your question if you will read “Left Turn,” a recent publication by a UCLA (Stanford grad) professor named Groseclose. Amazon has it available on Kindle, and in hardback and paperback. The Media has, for the most part, ignored because, on the whole, America is a lot more conservative than the Media (and the Liberals) want us to think.

  52. bulfinch says:

    BR: It may be worth noting that Gallup procures it’s data via land line phone polling. Generally speaking, which demographic in America still uses land lines? Old bastards…and myself.

    I suspect that might help slant things just a little in favor of conservatism if you accept the notion that, as people age, they tend to become more conservative.

    Just a thought.

  53. Neildsmith says:

    This is another thing the recent crisis taught me. Americans really aren’t as nice, generous, or compassionate as I thought they were. I was living in this liberal fantasy world where people cared about their fellow citizens. I recently moved to one of those dark green states and boy oh boy – have I gotten an unpleasant education. I’ve always been around conservatives because of my profession, but now they are all out of the closet and pissed off.

  54. bda_guy says:

    Demographics. The older a person gets, the more conservative their outlook becomes. As the the over-sized baby boom generation has started moving into retirement, the increasingly conservative the nation has become. This has occurred since Reagan but has become increasingly amplified, especially over the last decade. The fact that the more conservative middle-America blames much of today’s economic and financial woes on the more social policies and programs of the larger, Democratic-voting states has increased the gulf between the two camps.

  55. MayorQuimby says:

    @Dick-

    The only one with Koolaid in his mouth is you…because you’re swimming in it.

    JFK would be a full right wing conservative nowadays.

    And “W” and Reagan expanded government like no Democrat ever has.

    You guys get caught up in racial crap but at the end of the day, the entire nation has shifted left with regards to interracial dating, gay rights, women’s rights etc etc etc.

    And how many of our constitutional rights were dismantled by “W”?

    If you can’t see this you are a partisan and ideologue who has no clue. You should seriously question your own mindset if you can for one second even delude yourself into thinking America is more conservative.

    Barry, everyone….get real!

  56. MayorQuimby says:

    Add: how many people are on food stamps? What is the average federal wage? How many women ceo’s? How many states allow gay marriage? Roe v. Wade? Socialized losses privatized gains is a conservative ideal?!

    Bahahahahaha…

  57. MayorQuimby says:

    99 weeks of UE, gm bailout not repaid, HAMP, TARP, TALF…

  58. mathman says:

    along the same lines:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/154182/why_right-wingers_%28and_media_hacks%29_are_totally_wrong_about_what_americans_believe_–_we%27re_becoming_less%2C_not_more%2C_conservative_?akid=8270.206600.2q2NO5&rd=1&t=2

    “Why Right-Wingers (and Media Hacks) Are Totally Wrong About What Americans Believe — We’re Becoming Less, Not More, Conservative

    Americans’ views on the most pressing issues of the day are actually solidly progressive, so why do the media keep getting the story wrong?”

  59. winstongator says:

    We are seeing a polarization of America, somewhat due to migration and settling patterns. Think about if you are a gay kid in Wyoming. Are you going to stick around either trying to stay in the closet or to show people how ‘normal’ gay people can be, or are you going to move to a region of the country that is more tolerant, that actually wants you to live there. The smartest kid in the school is the same. They’ll end up in NYC, DC, Boston, LA, or SF. So you get the most educated, most liberal young people from conservative states moving to very liberal leaning areas, and the most conservative, those with the least options, staying.

    There are two ways people’s attitudes towards gays change. First is some sort of epiphany where they come to change their views themselves. This is uncommon. Second, is through actual interaction with gays and realizing that they are not much different. Another corollary way is by interacting with closeted gays, or with people who were in the closet but have recently come out. Trying to be something you’re not is painful, and impossible to truly accomplish. People in the most conservative regions fail to realize this because their former neighbors who might have been struggling with this have moved to areas where the struggle is easier.

    As you get regions with less and less people with liberal views, those who might have been moderate shift right and those who were already to-the-right, become even more extreme in their views.

  60. frodo1314 says:

    Why are people perplexed that so many in this country consider themselves “Conservative”? This country was founded on the idea of Conservative principles much more so than on Liberal ones – “God helps those who help themselves”.

    Judging from the comments here (whether it’s on this topic or any other) I’d estimate 90-95% of BR’s readers (or at least those who post comments) are Liberal therefore the vast majority of this audience find it surprising.

  61. Global Eyes says:

    It is ironic. Conservatism’s surge has coincided with the Rule of Law getting tossed out the window. Critics say when that happens , an economic train wreck awaits. I think today’s conservatives have been pinstriped radicals in disguise. They’ve left behind a wake of broken hearts, foreclosures and debt worth trillions. That’s not Conservatisism-that’s just moving the needle towards the middle, where all the votes are.

  62. Greg0658 says:

    “I cannot buy the government with tens of millions” … no but you help with pennies in everything you buy .. it cuts both ways in this double taxation in the multi level world we all must live in

    interesting thread .. imo – simply – fear, herd behavior, push the weak to the outer circle for the sacrifice

    this whole social security net distrust – what is the alternative – incinerator chambers? really – is that what we need to curtail population growth who are devouring the scarce resources – then swoop in for their possessions?

  63. MayorQuimby says:

    We’re not talking about specific regions but the nation as a whole and the nation has a whole is VASTLY more liberal than it was.

    Shit….you couldnt even hint at sex on tv in the 50s and we now have mainstream movies like friends with benefits and skits like “dick in a box” on SNL (hilarious if you haven’t seen it btw).

    Sex before marriage was taboo even in the sixties. Heck, I remember girls in the 80s being prudish vs. today. Today, sex in high school is no biggies.

    In the 70s and 80s there were precisely two women who worked on my block and one was my mother.

    Today, it is expected that women work to support the family.

    Sexual harrssment? Never heard that term until the 90s.

    Gays on tv? Well everyone suspected certain tv personalities were gay but today it’s no biggie.

    Black or female president?

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    Obama pulled many a surprising state for a “brother”.

    You guys are completely off your rockers with this one.

    The only areas I can see where we are merge conservative is the breakdown of the gvmt-as-regulator of the financial sector but BOTH PARTIES SUPPORTED THIS EQUALLY.

    I almost every other instance…big debts, deficits, expansion of gvmt, bailouts….we are MORE SOCIALIST THAN EVER BY A MILE.

  64. Expat says:

    for the past ten years Americans have been told that the rest of the world hates them and wants to destroy them, their culture, their freedoms, and their lifestyle. America has waged wars on drugs and terror while steadily destroying the civil and criminal safeguards in our legal system. Americans are searching for someone to blame other than themselves, or at least not their peer group. Consequently, they are huddling, psychologically circling the wagons.

    Civilized nations around the world cringe in dismay when they read headlines about American political debate or social discussions. Rick Santorum, for example, is regarded as no better morally, politically, or ethically than an ayatollah by much of Europe. They can’t understand how Obama, a right-wing oligarch, is called a socialist or a communist without hysterical laughter breaking out.

    While much of Europe calls itself Christian, it appears to be mainly a census issue (gee, I guess since I was brought up Protestant, I must be one) rather than a belief system which dictates politics and morality. Jews in Europe seem less intent on subverting US politics and slaughtering every Muslim in the Middle East as those in America.

    Conservatism has also grown out of the general economic malaise. The collapse of our bubble economy has shocked many, leading them to seek reactionary solutions (Get rid of illegal aliens. Repeal Nafta. Steal Iraqi oil. Eliminate all handouts (except the ones I get).)

    A deeply conservative America would not bother me or most of the world if Americans were simply assholes and home and didn’t inflict their delusions about burning bushes and humanity onto the rest of the world. Unfortunately, what happens in Kansas does not stay in Kansas. The sins of Americans weigh upon the heads of innocent children all around the world.

  65. Moss says:

    The definitions are bogus to begin with. Liberalization of the financial markets, a Conservative mantra is what has gotten us all in a very big mess. The terms are used as a false choice and act as fodder for the two party system which feeds on the fabricated divide.

    I consider myself Conservative in many ways but would never vote for a GOP candidate since I see them as mainly hypocrites. The Dems on the other hand are more open about what they will actually do in office. I abhor most Conservative Politicians, neo-cons, Supply Siders, Reaganites, Right to Lifers , etc.

    So people can be personally conservative but collectively liberal.

  66. “Sorry, but Libertarians by nature are totalitarian.”–Futuredrone @23:36

    Wow..
    ~~

    b-i-m,

    to your point..

    Book Description
    Publication Date: November 15, 2005 | ISBN-10: 0826487289 | ISBN-13: 978-0826487285
    Furedi argues that the traditional terms “left” and “right” have been both distorted and proved inadequate by a number of developments, notably the Cold War, the Culture Wars and (as he’s shown in previous books) the prevalance of risk-adverse managerialism. The result is a politics (both big P and little p) that fails to take humans seriously as humans and which, necessarily, evades discussion of right and wrong. Furedi shows that the single most important political need is for an adequate conception of humanity (and, in the process, the public) and that it is this that will produce a new and more imaginative alignment in politics.
    http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Fear-Frank-Furedi/dp/0826487289

    From Publishers Weekly
    Given daily terror alerts and news reports of violence, Robin, professor of political science and contributor to the New York Times Magazine, offers a sober analysis of fear’s Janus-faced potential as catalyst for economic progress and the raison d’être of repressive regimes. A brilliant synthesis of historical perspective and the critically revealing story of “Fear, American Style,” the account explores the classics of political thought by Hobbes, Montesquieu and Tocqueville and the portrayal of evil by Arendt in order to locate fear as the decisive underpinning of contemporary liberal theory. In doing so, Robin argues for the groundlessness of, on one hand, a “liberalism of anxiety” that perceives society as a debate over communities of identity and difference with low emphasis on social cohesion, while on the other hand a “liberalism of terror” that turns to abject evil as the summum malum grounding for morality. For Robin, both of these descriptions of political realities ignore the subtle threats fear wages in our everyday lives, most notably in the workplace. The closing chapters document how the Constitution and federalism’s factionalist orientation aid that everyday fear. Conceived of before 9/11, but inclusive of its results, Robin’s analysis predicts that when the war on terror does end, “we will find ourselves still living in fear.”
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
    http://www.amazon.com/Fear-History-Political-Corey-Robin/dp/0195189124/ref=pd_sim_b_3

    “…how certain news organizations and social institutions benefit from the exploitation of fear.

    This book is about fear and its expanding place in our public life. The author documents the rise of a “discourse of fear” in the present era: the pervasive communication, sym­bolic awareness, and expectation that danger and risk surround us. Altheide offers explanations of how this occurred and suggests some of its serious social consequences. In doing so, he focuses on the nature and use of social power and social control. The mass media play a significant role in shaping social definitions that govern social action. Relatedly, his methodological and theoretical foundation in classical social theory, existential-phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and symbolic interactionism leads him to view social power as the capacity to define situations for self and others…”
    http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Fear-Construction-Crisis-Problems/dp/0202306607/ref=pd_sim_b_4

    to begin with..~

  67. illoguy says:

    After Obama was elected, I would have said no.

    After seeing of the visceral reaction to Obama from a large part of the population, I would say yes.

  68. Grego says:

    I think you find them amazing because they’re half bullshit. It screams for an infographic.

    ” States with more conservatives are less diverse.”. Hold on, “There is no correlation to race or ethnicity, however, whether measured as percent white, percent black, or percent Hispanic.” So sure, they’re less diverse as long as you use a nonstandard meaning of diverse that suits your needs.

    “Conservative political affiliation is strongly correlated with percentage of a state’s workforce in blue-collar occupations (.71)” Hard to argue with that, since I don’t know what it means. I know that rust-belt MI, OH, PA, IL, are all average, and the entire new england is below average. I live in new england, trust me, there aren’t many factories around. Maine? VT? Not blue-collar? What, brown-collar doesn’t count? And wait, NH isn’t conservative? Shit, last month you couldn’t see the trees for the Ron Paul signs! But don’t believe me, ask Gallup- 23% liberal, 37% conservative. This one’s so mixed up I don’t even know what I’m trying to argue against:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/146348/Mississippi-Rates-Conservative-State.aspx#2

    “There is no correlation to race or ethnicity, however, whether measured as percent white, percent black, or percent Hispanic (Fascinating).” Incredible! Unbelievable! Wait…it is unbelievable:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States#Breakdown_by_state

    Looking at his “in depth look” link sheds little light on it, other than showing some fairly amorphous blobs with lines running through them. Standard deviations, anyone? I’d guess that’ll pop half his balloons right there.

    I can’t much argue with the education (and by inference professional/creative), income and religion points, although I think it could be argued they are fundamentally a single category. But that’s another story, and way duller and more obvious.

  69. peachin says:

    Looking at the Map we see the dark green area – Is where less or nothing is happening at the cutting edge of society compared to the Light Green – It would be interesting to have the average IQ of the total Green Areas. Is this an elitist attitude? – I don’t know – we should see 3 average IQ’s spread into colors. I guess we should look at other similarities relating to shades of green. Obviously the map is incomplete in analysis. Thank God this is a free country or they would round up all the liberals and burn them with their files, then set up a local area captains to monitor the “insolents”

  70. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Pissed that I’m late to this party.

    Oh well.

    Interesting related links:

    http://savecapitalism.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/how-to-get-fired-from-faux-news-in-5-minutes/

    and this:

    http://www.truth-out.org/right-wing-id-unzipped/1329147417

    As for the “conservative”/“liberal” patterns and ratios in our society, and relating to those who say that America is more liberal or conservative, politically, I think people need to stand back from the box a little and put things into context:

    There is no liberal or conservative change in our government (and most money/power types don’t really give a damn what the riff-raff do or believe, as long as they keeps theirs), but there is the wealth disparity and control/ownership of our economy at stake. The closer liberalism and conservatism get , the more the differences must be accentuated. It isn’t that the basic ideologies or intellects of Americans are that different, it is that a unified body politic/electorate is a threat to those in power. On the street, both parties would be called instigators.

    We are told that we are a divided nation, and a small cohort (in numbers), is trotted out to make the point. Ask yourself why liberal push-back works on the internets tubes — where one’s comments are open for all to read, without them being shouted down or having the microphone pulled away — but these same ideas and opinions are missing from the broadcast narrative. Consider the falsehood of the oft-repeated fallacy advanced via the MSM that the MSM is liberal.

    This is where reliance on reason vs. reliance on emotion and the ease with the latter is used to defeat the former comes into play.

    jeffg’s comment regarding union members voting for their own disenfranchisement if they think their right to own guns might be even minutely infringed upon, above, is exactly the type of exploitation of non-existent threats and differences that is used so effectively to create the perception that there is a threat when there is none in reality.

  71. Winston Munn says:

    Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation. Fluoridation of water? It’s obvious that we have been poisoning our precious bodily fluids…

  72. normal1 says:

    Perhaps it seems as if America is becoming more conservative because of the numerous options to spread information, articles, ideas, etc. today. I’m curious about the numbers of people who support this notion who also happen to be “internet-inclined” vs. those who don’t, and rely on more traditional modes of information sharing (tv, newspaper.)

    But, back to the question of why this may be happening….I still say it’s due to the historical lines in the sand that sent a message to Americans that it was better to be dead than Red. Years ago, when the Republicans hijacked capitalism to face the threat of socialism, eveyone else was automatically labeled anti-capitalist. And, since our country’s mythology is closely identified as being a capitalist’s dream, where a man can make a living for himself, who wouldn’t want to be on the “winning team?”

    Anyone tracking the chain emails knows that the propaganda to reinforce the labels of Republicans as capitalists and Democrats as socialists is alive and well, and very entertaining. The problem Democrats have is that they keep trying to prove to people that they’re not socialists by acting like Republicans-lite. So, people don’t have a viable alternative to vote for, and when pressed, they’ll go with the lesser of evils, provided that evil is identified with capitalism.

  73. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Winston:

    Sadly, that is as good an explanation as any.

  74. MikeDonnelly says:

    @Redcharlie

    http://news.yahoo.com/low-iq-conservative-beliefs-linked-prejudice-180403506.html

    “People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study”

    The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

  75. Chad says:

    While some of the above influences this trend, the main underlying reason is generational culture. The Fourth Turning by Strause and Howe explains this very well. There are basically 4 generational types and we tend to repeat all 4 in order…over and over and over again.

    Good link explaining the 4 generations that repeat.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss-Howe_generational_theory

    Secondly, whenever there is a crisis people get more “conservative”, which is just a big word for “scared of change.” Thus, a slight majority of the uneducated head to the party that loves “the good ole’ days!” Of course, those old days were not necessarily good.

  76. craig.r.jackson says:

    It’s impossible to talk about those statistics and that map without a bit of history. First, notice that conservative strength is in the South. As recently a two generations ago, whites in the South viewed blacks as inferior humans. That was actually a step up from previous generations who viewed them as sub-human. That generation also viewed Indians as war-like and deserving to be shot. One generation later, liberal courts were enforcing segregation across the lifestyle: schools, housing, restaurants, transportation. I don’t think you can underestimate the horror that that policy caused because much of it was viewed as unconstitutional federal government meddling. Consequently, the next generation was raised to distrust the federal government. BAM! Modern conservatism was born. Religion took advantage of those currents and leveraged the abortion issue to create a monster. Reagan moved things along by bringing the message to blue collar Democrats. The economic correlations you mention are only relevant in so far as the South has never been much of a economic powerhouse, nor has it ever been what most consider educated, having been dominated by poor rural agriculture. My intent is not to bash the South, for I have lived here my entire life, but really these are the facts.

  77. Moss says:

    Pat Buchanan, who is severely Conservative has a few fine things to say in his latest book. He is an example of the fuel that feeds the false divide.

    http://news.yahoo.com/pat-buchanan-msnbc-015053514.html

  78. Sechel says:

    The implication and suggestion that being a liberal vs being a conservative speaks to one’s intelligence is implied here and is not correct.

  79. DasKapitalist says:

    Someone above said belief is everything for religious believers. I agree that suspension of critical and skeptical thinking is root cause. Once trained to believe in superstition, critical faculties fail. That’s why people justify creationism, astrology, “birther” crap and any assortment of nonsense. Recommended Reading: Michael Schermer “Why People Believe Weird Things”.

  80. constantnormal says:

    Wow. Heckuva comments river here.

    Without having scrutinized each and every one, I’ll put my vote behind whoever attributed this to demographics, the graying senility of us Boomers.

    As people age, they lose their ability to learn, and also their ability to imagine, they become entrenched in the values of a fantasy past, and make every attempt to hold onto those fictional values, clinging to that past instead of adjusting as times change. Usually this means adopting a fantasy world view (yes, the Tea Party is full of Boomers as well) that is at odds with logic, reason, and the bulk of the evidence.

    Perhaps in 25-35 years or so, when the Boomers have faded away to insignificance and irrelevance (and cemeteries), and we have a more balanced distribution of age cohorts, we will have a Golden Age of Rationality and Reason … but until then, Bananamerica will become increasingly senile and crazy.

    It is no mistake that this nation was built by the young.

    Put that picture firmly in your fading minds, a large population of dementia-riddled voters, in the most heavily-armed nation (from individuals on up) on the planet, feverishly working to push their nonexistent reality onto the rest of the planet. What could go wrong?

  81. constantnormal says:

    Correction:

    “It is no mistake that this nation was built by the young.”

    Should read:

    “It is no accident that this nation was built by the young.”

  82. crutcher says:

    Political predisposition is genetically inherited. It’s been suggested that given the extreme mobility of the present age that geographical distribution of political opinion correlates with genetic predisposition. In other words, like minded people prefer to live together.

    (And yes real world disposition is genes interacting with experience.)

  83. crutcher,

    if you like this..”…And yes real world disposition is genes interacting with experience…”-Idea..

    you should check out

    http://search.yippy.com/search?query=epigenetics&tb=sitesearch-all&v%3Aproject=clusty

    then, you know, for xtra-Credit, wonder where(?) the current Crop of ‘Bio-/Genetic “Engineers”‘ have ‘hopped off the Rails’..~

  84. AHodge says:

    1 there is no data on trend though you are probably right, more “c”s lately
    2 Cs mostly live in the country-which goes with a leave me alone attitute i dont need services or order or gummint. take this job and shove it redneck nascar types? gallups Blue collar is so old fashioned.
    3 reagan grabbed these guys and they never looked back
    4 they are religious- jimmy carter got a lot of them but the Rs now have got the message for them too and a near lock
    5 how do you define? self identified? even with the wide open spaces/ no people states bein C… and looking bigger for area
    this looks nowhere near a 1/3 each for the groups. if you are going to call the middle “average” like gallup it should BE the average. with equal amounts above and below

  85. Christopher says:

    How dare those flyover folks not fall in the Group Think Line!!

    Don’t they know what is good for them??!!

    LOL

    This diary reeks of East Coast hubris…..kinda like the same shit that has gotten this country into this mess.

    Booooooo Hisssssss.

  86. DrSandman says:

    Wow. Is there a single other conservative (not a GOP or RonPaulian) out here? Perhaps you should ask conservatives why they are finally getting a voice?

    The education correlation is easy to explain by the indoctrination of the higher-ed faculty who outright reject anything that is not statist/progressive/ liberal-orthodoxy, giving lower grades to students who voice libertarian/ conservative/ religious viewpoints.

    I should know; the wife and I both left academia over a lack of academic freedom. The wankers in the faculty lounge with tenure have never had real jobs, and are insulated from reality.

  87. AHodge says:

    and they make less and are stupid “relatively”
    but it costs a lot less to live in your average C rural state
    how stupid can you be to wake up in the fresh air country every morning and have no one around to bother you? listen to the C&W types laughing at “us” im headin out tomorrow…

  88. DrSandman says:

    Thomas Frank’s book, “What’s the matter with Kansas?” is the PERFECT example of why people are growing more conservative: a valedictocracy of learned wise souls seeks to tell me… ME!… what is best for me and my family.

    I resent it.

    So do the rest of us conservatives.

  89. Bob A says:

    it’s all about religious evangelism/fanaticism.

    “we’re right. you’re wrong. we want our religious beliefs to be the law of the land and screw you if you don’t like it”

  90. How Blue America Subsidizes Red America

    A very neat Aaron Carroll chart shows that, on average, conservative states feature more “dependency” on federal programs than do liberal ones. You can slice this kind of data in a variety of ways, but you always end up with the same aggregate pattern. It happens to be the case that the richest parts of the United States (think the San Francisco Bay area or Connecticut) favor Democrats and also that conservative areas of the country are overrepresented in the Senate. Transfers, on average, flow away from high-income and underrepresented areas and toward low-income and overrepresented areas. I think the overall pattern is best described as a coincidence and not a pattern of large-scale hypocrisy but there are two important points to make about it.

    One is that high-income people living in low-income states are generally very conservative in their political ideology but probably benefit more from federal income support programs more than they realize. If you own fast food franchises in the Nashville area, for example, you’re going to form a self-perception as a self-reliant businessman but the existence of Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit are helping to ensure that your customers have adequate income to sometimes eat at your Taco Bell. These chains of dependency snake even longer. If you sell luxury cars in Florida, many of your customers are probably medical professionals who are earning high incomes because other people have Medicare benefits. The aggregate geographic transfer patterns, in other words, do make a real difference to the economic life of the nation. The existence of transfer payments props up the entire local economies of low-income, low-productivity parts of the country.

  91. DrSandman says:

    @Bob A “it’s all about religious evangelism/fanaticism.

    “we’re right. you’re wrong. we want our religious beliefs to be the law of the land and screw you if you don’t like it” ”

    So we just want to be left alone and get the gummermint out of our lives. But we want the gummermint to be a evangelical-based theocracy.

    Right.

    Can you progressives go in the back room and get your stories straight? Your dissonance is showing.

  92. seneca says:

    In place of all the abstract theorizing, doesn’t anyone know a disaffected uneducated blue-collar white guy you could simply ask why he embraces a conservative ideology? My guess is he’ll tell you straight away.

  93. theexpertisin says:

    Funny how retirees in the liberal areas gravitate to the south when they want to enjoy their remaining years.

    Maybe there is something to gaining wisdom as one grows older.

    ~~~

    BR: Simple: Sell a high priced house, buy a smaller cheaper one

  94. DrSandman says:

    @seneca: “doesn’t anyone know a disaffected uneducated blue-collar white guy”

    Your very own Pauline Kael/Nixon moment.

    As the gallup statistics above show, there is no racial component to it!!! Stop trying to inject race where it doesn’t belong.

    Unemployment in my hometown was close to 30% for much of the 80′s due to the coal mines, but is now around 3% due to the miracle of fracking and shale gas. We’re a proud lot. We were brought up to believe that:

    * Welfare is wrong – except in the most dire circumstances, and only temporarily at that – and is to be repaid in kind
    * Charity is expected to be given when you have the means
    * You take care of yourself, your family, your community, your homestead, and your friends

    Our values happen to correlate strongly with a Judeo-Christian belief system. Chicken/Egg paradox.

    These are all part of the ethics of self-reliance. Progressivism — that is, the political philosophy of the ruling class elitist GOP & Democrat — seeks to remove the independence from the individual and hold it within the state.

    We’re not anti-government. That would be the anarchists. There are some things that only a gov’t can do, like defense, intelligence, and (some) infrastructure.

    We resent being told what kind of lightbulb we can buy, or how much water our toilet can use, or that we can’t build a bonfire to roast our s’mores without a permit (for real!).

    We see the filth, squalor, and moral turpitude of the progressive-utopian fantasy writ large, and recoil from that to our safe, secure, and clean “happy place.”

    We recognize that the 2nd amendment guarantees a right to self-defense.

    We are stewards of the environment. We hunt; we fish; we farm; we live off the land (or we could if we had to!). Nobody “wants a dirtier environment.” We are conservationists, not environmentalists.

    We understand that the EPA (et al.) has swung the pendulum so far in the tyrannical direction, however. There is no difference to the human between 1 part in 10,000,000 and one part in 1 billion for arsenic in drinking water, but the costs for regulations like these are considered in a cost/benefit analysis.

    That, in essence, is what the growing conservative faction believe, Mr. Ritholtz.

    (I feel like Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.)

  95. Stan Klein says:

    donna: “A lot of it is also media access — urban areas have limited media — conservative talk radio and Fox News, typically.”

    You must mean rural areas. Urban areas generally have multiple sources of information. Rural areas are continuously bathed in ultra-right-wing propaganda. Just get in your car, get away from an urban area, and tune your car radio. You can drive for miles hearing mostly country music with minimal news, right wing talk radio, and ultra right wing preachers. Stop and look at a local newspaper. It won’t have much national news and if it discusses national issues it will be right wing columnists (whose columns may be provided free to the newspaper to help it fill space).

    So, for the most part, rural opinion is based on an absence of fact and a plethora of right wing propaganda.

  96. DrSandman says:

    @seneca: “doesn’t anyone know a disaffected uneducated blue-collar white guy”

    Your very own Pauline Kael/Nixon moment.

    As the gallup statistics above show, there is no racial component to it!!! Stop trying to inject race where it doesn’t belong.

    Unemployment in my hometown was close to 30% for much of the 80′s due to the coal mines, but is now around 3% due to the miracle of fracking and shale gas. We’re a proud lot. We were brought up to believe that:

    * Welfare is wrong – except in the most dire circumstances, and only temporarily at that – and is to be repaid in kind
    * Charity is expected to be given when you have the means
    * You take care of yourself, your family, your community, your homestead, and your friends

    Our values happen to correlate strongly with a Judeo-Christian belief system. Chicken/Egg paradox.

    These are all part of the ethics of self-reliance. Progressivism — that is, the political philosophy of the ruling class elitist GOP & Democrat — seeks to remove the independence from the individual and hold it within the state.

    We’re not anti-government. That would be the anarchists. There are some things that only a gov’t can do, like defense, intelligence, and (some) infrastructure.

    We resent being told what kind of lightbulb we can buy, or how much water our toilet can use, or that we can’t build a bonfire to roast our s’mores without a permit (for real!).

    We see the filth, squalor, and moral turpitude of the progressive-utopian fantasy writ large (cf Detroit), and recoil from that to our safe, secure, and clean “happy place.”

    We recognize that the 2nd amendment guarantees a right to self-defense.

    We are stewards of the environment. We hunt; we fish; we farm; we live off the land (or we could if we had to!). Nobody “wants a dirtier environment.” We are conservationists, not environmentalists.

    We understand that the EPA (et al.) has swung the pendulum so far in the tyrannical direction, however. There is no difference to the human between 1 part in 10,000,000 and one part in 1 billion for arsenic in drinking water, but the costs for regulations like these are considered in a cost/benefit analysis.

    That, in essence, is what the growing conservative faction believe, Mr. Ritholtz.

    (I feel like Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.)

    [[Sorry if this is a double-post, the browser acted funny.]]

  97. jib10 says:

    Some one I keep reading on the intertubes (I cant remember where) keeps harping on this ‘correlation is not causation’ thing. Look at the map. The conservative areas have ALWAYS been conservative.

    The social network your a member of has a lot to do with how you live. Studies have even shown that if your friends and co-workers are fat, you have a higher probability of being fat. What your friends political beliefs are will definitely affect you.

    Look at the map again. I can tell you because I come from the conservative part of the map, that the conservative parts are the areas that have fared the worse economically the last 30 years. This the area hard hit by the long price drop in agriculture and energy plus manufacturing leaving small towns in the midwest for China. This is starting to change with the rebound in ag and energy prices but that is just in the last 5 years or so.

    I dont live in the dark green any more, I live in the light green. When I got my Comp Sci degree, I left the midwest for the west coast because that is where the jobs are. I think it is simple. Get a good degree, you can get a good job but only in the light green states. So you move. That leaves people in the dark green who do not have degrees or good degrees anyway (community college nursing degrees wont let you move to the west coast). And my politics have moved left as I have lived with all these dirty liberals (I like them, they are a lot more fun at parties than conservatives). Over time, that makes a younger, better educated population where the new jobs are and leaves an aging, less educated population in the places that have lost jobs. And guess who has more money? Of course its the new job people, that is why they are moving.

    What you are seeing is the result of economic movement over the last 30 years. It has nothing to do with ideology, your ideology will, for the most part, follow the ideology of your social net. Which is fine, ideology does not matter anyway. I have lived in rural Oklahoma and downtown Seattle. There is no fundamental difference in the people. They believe the same thing, they want the same thing. You get the ones who spend too much time on politics and they rant and rage about whatever they have been told is the outrage of the day but that is no different than the sports nut who lives and dies with the local team. Its color, not substance.

  98. AHodge says:

    And just to riff on C&W
    if you listen to Country and Western now vs 20 years ago, you hear a lot of blatantly Republican themes, and an us vs them attitude vs “flyovers” (above) and city, east coast, and high class folks who wouldnt mud race and go to the swimmin hole.
    Partly follows changing “values” yes, but also leads them some?
    its an R secret weapon, and it heats up every 4 years.

  99. GraffitiGrammarian says:

    What data are you using as evidence that these states are more conservative?

    Are you going by the number of Republicans in public office? If so, I would argue there is a disconnect between that data and the conclusion you draw from it.

    Political officials are evidence of corporate money being spent, not evidence of how the electoral feels or thinks.

    The government is put in place by corporations now. They use their money to manipulate electorate’s emtions in the near-term. But I would argue that there is no genuine groundswell of public opinion to elimate contraception, for instance. That is political theater used by the corporate right to drown out discussion of things people really care about.

  100. Bob A says:

    dear drsandman

    if you interpreted my comment to mean i was in favor of evangelical-based theocracy you would have been mistaken.