Synopses & Reviews
"This impressive social science analysis stands much political punditry on its head. So far as voting goes, the question is less why poor Americans are victims of false consciousness than why affluent Americans in wealthy states are traitors to their class."--Morris P. Fiorina, author of Culture War?: The Myth of a Polarized America
"I enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about political misconceptions and counterintuitive properties of elections--my view of political data will never be the same."--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan
"Andrew Gelman has turned his eagle-eyed research on the American voter into an excellent book, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. If you ever doubted the value of empirical research, this book will change your mind. It's full of novel, data-driven results."--Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter
"The divide in American politics is about more than the ideological distance between the two parties. Through careful statistical analysis, Andrew Gelman solves the mystery of how Democrats can do so well in certain places where rich people live, yet still not be the party of the rich. This book will help people on all sides to see politics more clearly, and it will require all of us to toss many pieces of conventional wisdom into the dustbin."--E. J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics
"Occasionally, there are books providing insights into the political process that force a basic change in the way people think about elections. This is one of them. The author makes clear that while North-South or red-blue divides reflect both 'have versus have-not' conflicts and the more recent liberalization of the upscale 'creative class,' the state-by-state reality is much more nuanced and complex. This volume points the way to whole new lines of research and is essential reading for those interested in the future of American political parties."--Thomas Edsall, Columbia University, political editor of the Huffington Post
"Andrew Gelman has been poring over data trying to get at the driving forces at work in American politics. His findings suggest that the divides in America run deep and are linked to an ongoing, internal battle between two increasingly distinct American economies."--Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class
I enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about political misconceptions and counterintuitive properties of elections--my view of political data will never be the same.
"The aim of this book, Mr. Gelman tells us, is to debunk the media's oversimplified account of what happened in red and blue states in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Writing in the same spirit as Freakonomics
authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Mr. Gelman sets out to 'correct' the received wisdom. . . . This is the Freakonomics
-style analysis that every candidate and campaign consultant should read."--Robert Sommer, New York Observer
"The most creative analyses in Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
use Gelman's multilevel methods. But the technical background is nearly invisible: Here there are no equations and few numbers--rather, one finds dozens of revealing graphics, all of which are very clear. The book is unusual in aiming to enlighten the general lay reader through a step-by-step analysis, not merely to engage in a debate with other political scientists. Through a clear and crisp writing style, it quotes and refutes many widespread views of journalists and political pundits, even as it builds on the political science literature . . . this fun-to-read book may become a minor classic."--Terry Nichols Clark and Christopher Graziul, Science
"Full of interesting arguments and insights that will turn many deep-seated beliefs about American politics on their head, and make a lot of people reconsider their assumptions and biases."--Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader
"Gelman provides an invaluable corrective and an excellent launching pad for future research on the reasons why people vote and affiliate with the parties as they do."--Katherine Cramer Walsh, Journal of Public and International Affairs
"If you're interested in understanding the state of the art in the geography and demographics of American public opinion as we head down the final stretch of the presidential race (and who isn't!), this is a book you shouldn't miss."--Will Wilkinson, The Fly Bottle
"Gelman works his way, state by state, to help us better understand the relationship of class, culture, and voting. The book is a terrific read and offers much insight into the changing electoral landscape."--Sudhir Venkatesh, Freakonomics blog
"Attempting to explain 'why Americans vote the way they do,' Gelman and a group of fellow political scientists crunch numbers and draw graphs, arriving at a picture that refutes the influential one drawn by Thomas Frank, in What's the Matter with Kansas?
, of poor red-staters voting Republican against their economic interests. Instead, Gelman persuasively argues, the poor in both red states and blue still mostly vote Democratic, and the rich, nationally speaking, overwhelmingly vote Republican."--Leo Carey, The New Yorker
"The thesis of this topical book is that how Americans vote depends on where they live as well as who they are. Gelman makes this argument clearly and repeatedly in colloquial language, in black and white graphics and in maps coloured red and blue. . . . A major strength of the book is that it shows the importance of changes in America in the past half century."--Times Higher Education
"According to Gelman, much of the analysts' glib assessments is misguided and does little to advance our understanding of why Americans have voted as they have. He crunched U.S. survey and election data as far back as 1952 . . . and discovered that the economic status of individuals and the economic conditions of each state as a whole lead to two different conclusions: on the one hand, the less wealthy a voter is, the more likely the voter is to cast a ballot for a Democrat; the better-off the voter, the more likely he or she is to vote Republican. Yet states with a higher average income are more likely to support a Democratic presidential candidate. . . . This is a fascinating, well-written, and thoroughly researched work that deserves a wide audience. Highly recommended for all libraries."--Thomas J. Baldino, Library Journal
"Commentators on both the left (Thomas Frank) and the right (David Brooks) have theorized about why working-class Kansas farmers and latte-sipping Maryland suburbanites vote against their economic interests. Gelman says, 'Both sides on this argument are trying too hard to explain something that's simply not true.' The real paradox, he says, is that while rich states lean Democratic, rich people generally vote Republican; while poor states lean Republican, poor people generally vote Democratic."--Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Book World
"Looking at the numbers as far back as 1952, this book debunks much of what we think we know about voting trends. Buy one today! Amuse your friends! Annoy your enemies! Bring cocktail party conversations to a grinding halt."--Susan Campbell, The Hartford Courant
"Andrew Gelman's Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State
can be summed up with extreme concision: Rich people vote Republican, but rich states vote Democratic. Poor people vote Democratic, but poor states vote Republican. That's pretty weird. But to Gelman, it's worse than weird. It's unknown. . . . At the most basic level, this is an argument for complexity. The country is not as simple as some would have it, and if that means political discussion segments need to be lengthened from two minutes to four minutes, then tough. But it's also an argument for data, and for increased rigor among the chattering class."--Ezra Klein, Barnes and Noble Review
On the night of the 2000 presidential election, Americans sat riveted in front of their televisions as polling results divided the nation's map into red and blue states. Since then the color divide has become a symbol of a culture war that thrives on stereotypes--pickup-driving red-state Republicans who vote based on God, guns, and gays; and elitist, latte-sipping blue-state Democrats who are woefully out of touch with heartland values. Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State debunks these and other political myths.
With wit and prodigious number crunching, Andrew Gelman gets to the bottom of why Democrats win elections in wealthy states while Republicans get the votes of richer voters, how the two parties have become ideologically polarized, and other issues. Gelman uses eye-opening, easy-to-read graphics to unravel the mystifying patterns of recent voting, and in doing so paints a vivid portrait of the regional differences that drive American politics. He demonstrates in the plainest possible terms how the real culture war is being waged among affluent Democrats and Republicans, not between the haves and have-nots; how religion matters for higher-income voters; how the rich-poor divide is greater in red not blue states--and much more.
Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State is a must-read for anyone seeking to make sense of today's fractured American political landscape.
Myths and facts about the red and the blue:
Myth: The rich vote based on economics, the poor vote "God, guns, and gays."
Fact: Church attendance predicts Republican voting much more among rich than poor.
Myth: A political divide exists between working-class "red America" and rich "blue America."
Fact: Within any state, more rich people vote Republican. The real divide is between higher-income voters in red and blue states.
Myth: Rich people vote for the Democrats.
Fact: George W. Bush won more than 60 percent of high-income voters.
Myth: Religion is particularly divisive in American politics.
Fact: Religious and secular voters differ no more in America than in France, Germany, Sweden, and many other European countries.
About the Author
Andrew Gelman is professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University. His books include "Bayesian Data Analysis" and "Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks".
Table of Contents
PART I: THE PARADOX 1
CHAPTER 1: Introduction 3
CHAPTER 2: Rich State, Poor State 8
CHAPTER 3: How the Talking Heads Can Be So Confused 24
PART II: WHAT'S GOING ON 41
CHAPTER 4: Income and Voting over Time 43
CHAPTER 5: Inequality and Voting 58
CHAPTER 6: Religious Reds and Secular Blues 76
CHAPTER 7: The United States in Comparative Perspective 94
PART III: WHAT IT MEANS 109
CHAPTER 8: Polarized Parties 111
CHAPTER 9: Competing to Build a Majority Coalition 137
10 Putting It All Together 165
Notes and Sources 179