Thursday, March 16, 2006

The class divide in politics.

What distinguishes a Republican from a Democrat ? An interesting op-ed piece by E J Donnie Jr. in the Washington Post, titled "What kind of hater are you ?" tries to understand what drives people to vote one way or the other. According to him...
Democrats see Republicans as a collection of pampered rich people who selfishly seek to cut their own taxes, allied with religious fundamentalists who want to use government power to impose a narrow brand of Christianity on everyone else.
Republicans see Democrats as godless, overeducated elitists who sip lattes as they look down their noses at the moral values of "real Americans" in "the heartland" and ally themselves with "special interest groups" that benefit from "big government."
Interestingly the economically priviliged voted overwhelmingly for President Bush in the last election! But, what of the argument that the so-called "wealthier", swank states like California, New York, Massachussets, Washington, etc. vote traitionally democratic ?

He cites the recently published but popular paper titled "Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State : What's the matter with Connecticut ?" which makes some interesting observations...

Yes, Bush carried a lot of poor states -- but with heavy support from the rich people who lived in them. The class war is being waged more fiercely in the Republican states than in the Democratic states. The income divide is especially sharp in the South, where it is reinforced by a strong racial divide.

"In poor states," Gelman and his colleagues write, "rich people are much more likely than poor people to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but in rich states (such as Connecticut), income has almost no correlation with vote preference. . . . In poor states, rich people are very different from poor people in their political preferences. But in rich states, they are not."

Astounding is it not ? Well, the above claim seems obvious now that one has read it...but honestly...did you really think about it before you read the above paragraphs ?

The following was an amazing "discovery" for me as well...
The paper's authors also take a nice swipe at the media, arguing that reporters tend to overemphasize the role of rich Democrats in elections. Why? Journalists, they write, "noticed a pattern (richer counties supporting the Democrats) that is concentrated in the states where the journalists live," notably the environs of Washington and New York. The class polarization in such deep red states as Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi goes largely unreported.
Now that does explain a lot for me...well, it seems to be prevalent now...the media bias colouring their reporting and the public being taken for a ride...

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