“Income can’t be used to predict political opinion”

What really irritates me about this column (by John Steele Gordon) is not how stupid it is (an article about “millionaires” that switches within the very same paragraph between “a nest egg of $1 million” and “a $1 million annual income” without acknowledging the difference between these concepts) or the ignorance it displays (no, it’s not true that “McCain carried the middle class” in 2008—unless by “middle class” you mean “middle class whites”).

No, what really ticks me off is that, when the Red State Blue State book was coming out, we pitched a “5 myths” article for the Washington Post, and they turned us down! Perhaps the rule is: if it’s in the Opinions section of the paper, it can’t contain any facts? Or, to be more precise, any facts it contains must be counterbalanced by an equal number of inanities?

Grrrrr . . . I haven’t been so annoyed since reading that New York Times article that argued that electoral politics is just like high school. Who needs political science or economics when you can resolve all confusion with an appropriate Simpsons reference?

P.S. I’m not opposed to someone arguing for upper-income tax breaks. But couldn’t the Post have found a conservative who could make the case in an intelligent way?

9 thoughts on ““Income can’t be used to predict political opinion”

    • Maybe we could write something with as many false statements as we could cram in, and see if we could get it published. Then, the moment it gets published, we post a blog entry explaining the hoax. That would be pretty cool, huh?

      Here’s a start (combining some of our research results):

      Public opinion has no effect on state policies.
      Poor people and minorities vote based on social issues.
      Kansas was liberal until the 1960s.

      That’s a good start, no? We can come up with a few more based on your research on judicial politics. We could call it “5 things about American politics that even we didn’t know were true!”

        • The Lax and Gelman hoax! Also, one more thing: we will follow John Steele Gordon’s example and illustrate our erroneous points with anecdotal evidence, for example:

          A state in which the legislature ignored public opinion on some well-publicized issue.
          A story about some low-income social-issue voter maybe followed up by a misleading statistic formed by choosing a single election in a single atypical year.
          A comparison of today’s Kansas with some group of atypical Kansas figures from the 1950s.

          And so on. I know we can do it. And . . . I don’t know if anyone at the Washington Post reads this blog, but there’s no way they go this deep into the comments section!

  1. “But couldn’t the Post have found a conservative who could make the case in an intelligent way?”


    This has been another edition of simple answers to foolish questions.

  2. I thought Andrew was just frothing again, but the article is truly terrible.

    Either that, or I’m missing out: “Today, $1 million in the bank generates only about $50,000 per year in interest.”

    Where is this U.S. bank that’s paying 5% on deposits?

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