Red State, Blue State at New America Foundation on Monday

The election is coming up so this is our last DC event . . . I’ll be speaking on Red State, Blue State this Mon, 27 Oct, at the New America Foundation. The event will be from 12.15-1.45, and there will be a discussion by David Frum. Frank Micciche of the New America Foundation will moderate. Info is here.

Below is the description of the event. (My coauthors won’t be present at the talk but they will be implicitly there, as I’m presenting our joint research.)

Rethinking Red and Blue
Myths, Perceptions, and the 2008 Vote

Monday, October 27, 2008
12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Lunch will be provided.

New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Ave, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC

In 2000, the poorest voters in Mississippi (50th in nation in per capita income), Ohio (middle of the pack) and Connecticut (1st in PCI) were equally likely to vote for George W. Bush. The richest residents of the same three states diverged sharply, with more than 3/4 of wealthy Mississippians voting Republican, 60 percent in Ohio and about half in Connecticut. This pattern held in 2004.

Dr. Andrew Gelman, co-author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State has analyzed voting patterns and found that the media have missed, and misstated, the real correlations between voting and income level. It turns out the mythical lower-income “Values Voter” who puts “God, guns and gays” before economic concerns is just that. The Republican edge in poorer states has little to do with the cultural concerns of lower-income voters, and far more to do with the intensity of GOP support among the wealthy in these states. In other words, we’re not in Thomas Frank’s Kansas any more.

Please join us to hear a revealing analysis of how and where income and other demographic trends actually affect voting patterns, and what it all means for the 2008 election. Following a presentation of Dr. Gelman’s findings, we will hear from David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and author of a recent New York Times Magazine article on “The Vanishing Republican Voter.”

Featured Speakers
Dr. Andrew Gelman
Professor of Statistics and Political Science, Columbia University
Author, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State:
Why Americans Vote the Way They Do

David Frum
Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Former Economic Speechwriter, President George W. Bush

Frank Micciche
Deputy Director, Next Social Contract Initiative
New America Foundation

What the Findings in Red State, Blue State Can Tell Us About the Presidential Race:

Q1.Why hasn’t Barack Obama’s edge in fundraising and intensity of support translated into a runaway election, and why is Obama now apparently pulling away?

A1: Because, until recently, the patterns that Gelman identified had held. For example, in early September, Pew Research had McCain leading Obama 53 to 39 among those making $75,000 or more. Their latest poll has Obama up 48 to 46 in this category. Pew’s horserace poll has Obama gaining almost exactly the same magnitude in overall support nationally during this period. According to Pew, Obama has also gained 8 points in the last month among weekly churchgoing white mainline protestants and 9 points among Catholics who attend weekly mass.

Q2. Hasn’t Obama “changed the map,” particularly in poorer states with relatively large minority populations?

A2. No. Among the 10 lowest-income states, McCain leads by an average of 15 points, trailing only in New Mexico, a classic “battleground” state. Similarly, 8 of the 10 richest states remain firmly Democratic in 2008. Obama has swung Colorado and Virginia into his column. So, among the 10 richest and 10 poorest states, only three look to be moving away from the party they favored in previous elections. Of these, two are simply falling into line with their fellow wealthier states, and one is continuing a pattern of vacillation between parties (although looking solidly Democratic at this point).

Q3.With these patterns locked in, what will decide whether November 4 produces an Electoral College landslide, ala 1996, or another late night nailbiter?

A3. Real Clear Politics lists 142 electoral votes not solidly in the GOP or Democratic column (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia). Gelman’s so-called “supergraph” tracking partisan intensity in bellwether rich (Connecticut), median (Ohio) and poor (Mississippi) states indicates that the poorer a state, the more likely their wealthiest voters are to vote Republican. This is reflected in a steeper incline (toward the GOP) as you move up the income scale within Mississippi than within Ohio and steeper still between Mississippi and Connecticut. If Obama can smooth the curve in poorer toss-up states (Georgia and North Carolina), and reverse it in richer ones (building on his impressive gains in Colorado and Virginia), he may well get a landslide.

To RSVP for this event, go to the event page:

For questions, contact Cecille Isidro at (202) 986-2700 x 141 or [email protected]