Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ideological Shift

An interesting article in The American Conservative (Nov/Dec 2014), titled “‘Duck Dynasty’ vs Dante,” reminded me again that no really decent statistics on politics are available to the general public. Economic statistics are available; but you have to pay real dollars for political statistics. Therefore it is difficult to check, using numbers, opinions, as those in this article, that the shift in ideology in the United States represents a movement from urban to rural. I always marvel at the detail that CNN, for instance is able to show in its coverage. Such data must cost a ton of money—but the people’s right to know does not extend to a right easily to analyze those numbers.

Half-heartedly looking for some, I found at least a few numbers looking backward provided by the Brookings Institution (link). These show the shift in dominance of the House and Senate, between 1991 and 2013—thus excluding the results of the most recent election—by regions of the country.  Here is the tabulation:

Democratic Strength, in Percent, in House and Senate, in 1991 and 2013
House
Senate
1991-1992
2013-2014
1991-1992
2013-2014
102nd
103rd
102nd
103rd
South
66.4
29.0
68.2
27.3
Border
67.4
36.6
60.0
50.0
New England
66.7
100.0
58.3
66.6
Mid-Atlantic
56.9
60.3
50.0
90.0
Midwest
61.2
38.4
70.0
60.0
Plains
54.2
33.3
58.3
41.7
Rocky Mountains
45.8
41.9
37.5
43.8
Pacific
60.6
70.4
40.0
90.0
Democratic regions
8
3
5
4

This tabulation still identifies the border states as a separate region. They are Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Delaware. Note the dominance of the Democrats in the 1991-1992 Congress (8 of 8 regions) and near dominance in the Senate (5 of 8 regions). Twenty-three years later, the dominance has swung to the other side—but four regions are still hanging on to the Democratic view of things. I show them in bold type.

I’ll look some more. One of the great puzzles, for Brigitte and me, is this general trend. People are getting poorer—and more Republican. Something’s oddly askew. Perhaps it is those gerrymandered districts. Or could it all be just Fox News?

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