Posts Tagged ‘2008 Presidential Election’

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Mar 24th 2009 at 8:51am UTC

Class, Personality, and the 2008 Election

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Last week, we looked at the relationship between class and happy states. This week we look at the effects of class on the 2008 Obama-McCain presidential election. Since states are key units in the U.S. electoral college system, we took states as the units of analysis as opposed to individuals. So under the watchful analytical eye of Charlotta Mellander, we looked at how the class composition of states (as opposed to say the class membership of individuals) effected votes for Obama versus McCain. To make this a little bit more interesting and more fun, we also looked at the effects of factors like income, housing prices, and human capital, as well as the gay index and personality on state voting patterns. Basically, we wanted to identify the kinds of states that voted for Obama or McCain.

CLASS AND THE ELECTION: First things first. There was undeniable class pattern to state voting in the 2008 election. States with large concentrations of two classes – the creative class and the service class were strongly associated with Obama, while states with large working class concentrations went for McCain.

The Creative Class: The correlation between creative class states and Obama was positive and significant (.425), while it was negative and significant for McCain (-.442).

The Service Class: The same basic pattern was true of the service class, the largest class and also the class with the lowest average level of wages and salaries.  Service class states were positively associated with Obama (.390) and negative for McCain (-.415).

The Working Class: Now check out the pattern with the working class. Hasn’t the conventional wisdom long been that working class voters tilt heavily toward the Democrats? When it comes to the concentration of working class jobs in a state, not so much. Working class states were even more strongly associated with McCain (.658) than creative class states for Obama; and working class states were quite negatively correlated (-.623) with Obama. This state level pattern contrasts with individual voting. While Obama won lots of working class voters, working class states went strongly for McCain.

Income and Economic Output: We also looked at the association between state voting and income and economic output (measured as GDP per person). Obama states were those with higher levels of GDP per capita (.375 Obama vs. -.388  McCain) and higher incomes (.516 Obama vs. -527 McCain). These are in line with earlier findings of Columbia University political scientist and Rich State, Poor State author, Andrew Gelman.

Housing Prices: States with high housing prices also were in the Obama camp.  Housing prices were strong correlated with Obama states (.672) and negatively associated with McCain states (-.725).

Human Capital: Human capital – that is the percentage of adults with a college degree – was strongly positively associated with Obama states (.458) and negatively associated with McCain states (-.492). These patterns contrast somewhat with more nuanced data for individual voters. Gelman pointed out in an e-mail that: “At the individual level, Obama did best among people without h.s. degrees and people with postgraduate degrees. McCain did best among people with some college and people with college degrees (but no postgrad degrees).”

The Gay Index: Obama states were also those with greater concentrations of gays and lesbians.  The Gay Index was positively associated with Obama states (.532) and negatively associated with McCain states (-.544).

Personality Factors: Psychologists have long been interested in the connection between personality and individual voting and ideology. So, once again using data originally collected by Cambridge University psychologist Jason Rentfrow and his collaborators, we compared state voting patterns to the concentration of the five major personality types – extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness-to-experience, and neuroticism. While three of the types had little relation to state voting patterns, two were significantly associated with Obama vs. McCain votes.

Open-to-Experience: Obama states were associated with high concentrations of open-to-experience (.409) – that is highly creative and innovative people; openness was negatively associated with McCain states (-.371).

Conscientiousness: McCain states were associated with high concentrations of conscientious (or dutiful) personalities (.311).

In an e-mail, Rentfrow says these findings are in line with his own: “The links with class, openness and voting is consistent with what we found in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections. Although we didn’t look at the class groupings you looked at, each is related to openness, and we found that openness was strongly related to voting patterns after controlling for income, education, race, and sex. I ran the same analyses for the 2008 election and the results are very similar…”

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Jan 19th 2009 at 9:48am UTC

How Cities Won the Election

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Barack Obama won the election by winning cities, according to this analysis by Nate Silver. (h/t: Alison Kemper). While others have pointed to this trend, Silver does a nice job of putting it all together. Plus the graphics are great.

If Bill Clinton was the first black president, then Barack Obama might be the first urban one. He is the only American president in recent history to seem unembarrassed about claiming a personal residence in a major American city. Instead, presidents have tended to hail from homes called ranches or groves or manors or plantations, in places called Kennebunkport or Santa Barbara or Oyster Bay or Northampton …

In 1992, when Bill Clinton won his first term, 35 percent of American voters were identified as rural according to that year’s national exit polls, and 24 percent as urban. This year, however, the percentage of rural voters has dropped to 21 percent, while that of urban voters has climbed to 30. The suburbs, meanwhile, have been booming: 41 percent of America’s electorate in 1992, they represent 49 percent now).

In other words, if you are going to pit big cities against small towns, it is probably a mistake to end up on the rural side of the ledger. Last year, Obama accumulated a margin of victory of approximately 10.5 million votes in urban areas, far bettering John Kerry’s 3.6 million. Obama improved his performance not only among black and Latino voters but also among urban whites, with whom he performed 9 points better than Kerry. Obama also won each of the seventeen most densely populated states, a list that includes such nontraditional battlegrounds as Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana. (One hidden advantage of urban areas: They’re easier to canvass to get the vote out.)  …

With the votes that he banked in the cities, Obama did not really need to prevail in the suburbs. But he did anyway — as every winning presidential candidate has done since 1980 — bettering McCain by 2 points there …  It may also be that suburban voters are starting to look — and behave — more like their urban brethren. According to a poll by the National Center for Suburban Studies, 20 percent of suburban voters are nonwhite — not much behind the national average of 27 percent — and 44 percent live in a racially mixed neighborhood (versus a national average of 46 percent). Suburban voters are just as likely to be concerned about the economy as other voters are and just as likely to know someone who has lost a job. Moreover, many suburbanites who do not live in cities may nevertheless be thoroughly familiar with them; according to the Census Bureau, at least eight to nine million persons commute into urban areas each day  …

Republicans trail Democrats among essentially every fast-growing demographic except the elderly — the youth vote, the Latino vote; they never had the black vote. It is long past time that they hone their pitch to urban voters, and find their shining city upon a hill.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Dec 2nd 2008 at 2:41pm UTC

Path Dependence

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

This map compares the south’s 2008 presidential vote (in conventional red and blue) with an 1860 map of cotton production (dots).

(Via  Strange Maps, h/t Charlotta Mellander)

More discussion here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Nov 14th 2008 at 2:23pm UTC

Did the Creative Class Win North Carolina?

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Civic Analytics ponders the questions and crunches the numbers.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Nov 8th 2008 at 10:19am UTC

Purple America

Saturday, November 8th, 2008



(Map by Robert Vanderbai via Matt Yglesias).

Discuss …

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Nov 5th 2008 at 12:29pm UTC

A Great Night for Humanity

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Obama’s victory last night is a great victory for humanity – global humanity. Desmond Tutu compared it to that of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. For my money, after eight years of deteriorating conditions in America, in the Middle East, and around the world, it is nothing less that an American glasnost.

I watched both speeches and both men closely last night. It was the best speech I have ever seen McCain give. He was eloquent, forward looking, and optimistic.

Obama was, in a word, amazing. He sounded all the right notes about moving beyond America’s divides and engaging the entire country and the world. Like so many of you, I was deeply moved by the scenes of the crowds in Chicago and elsewhere around the U.S. and the world. And Obama’s effort to reach out immediately and instinctively not just to his opponent but to all those who voted against them and to assure them that he is their president and will work ever harder for them is a poignant move toward healing the deep divisions that plague America.

Obama’s gifts are plentiful. In my entire life, I cannot remember an incoming president with so many natural and developed talents. I found myself thinking about Carolyn Kennedy’s comment about how she had at long last come upon a political leader who inspired her the way so many people say her father inspired them. I find Obama to be more inspiring, more serious, and more in touch with his nation and the entire world’s moods and needs. There will be plenty of challenges ahead, but he has the gifts and the ability to make his mark and lead the U.S. and the world. I have never, ever felt so very proud to be American.

Still, I was miffed by so much of the coverage which focused on a single dimension of the contest – race. As someone who was born in Newark in 1957 and whose very being was shaped by the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, I found myself riveted in ways I cannot even begin to explain by the sight of African-Americans rejoicing – and I was deeply touched by the sight of Jesse Jackson with tears welling in his eyes and rolling down his cheeks.

Obama is much more than an African-American figure. When Tom Friedman reduces the election to: “And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man — Barack Hussein Obama — won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States,” he reflects a parochial, American-centrist, out-moded, boomerist sentiment.

Obama is bi-racial – the son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother. He is both global and multi-cultural – his early years spent in Jakarta Indonesia, not only a developing economy but one of the most diverse and multi-racial societies in the world, before being raised by his white grandparents in Hawaii, another multi-racial and multi-cultural society.

The rise of Obama promises much, much more than the end of “the American Civil War.” His victory signals the rise of a truly global, post-racial world – the possibility that we can transcend racial categories.  This is what young Americans see. And it is why billions of others of all ages and races across the world rejoice today.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Nov 5th 2008 at 11:47am UTC

What Really Happened Last Night

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Columbia University political scientist and Rich State, Poor State author (and great friend of the Prosperity Institute), Andrew Gelman tells the story in charts, facts and figures.

The youth vote really mattered.

But the country remains split, as Gelman notes, ” The red/blue map was not redrawn; it was more of a national partisan swing.”