I found a good post at SB GNXP pointing out how full of crap Thomas Frank is. I didn’t want to forget it, so I linked to it in a comment at a dead UR thread. Turned out it wasn’t quite dead and got a response. My response to that kept bloating to the point that, taking after Hopefully Anonymous, I figured I should make a post out of it at my own blog. Here goes:
The truth does better fit with the 5-caste framework (which I prefer), but MM has just ditched that for 3 castes. Even back in the 5 caste system he talked about how the New Deal state was built through the support of working class Vaisyas, who ditched the Ds when they realized that the government wasn’t working on their behalf. Not the case. Among whites possession of a college degree has become less important while having lower incomes has become a greater predictor of voting D. Among whites being working class is a predictor of voting D within every state. It is weakly predictive at a national level, but the correlation is still positive. Universities do not churn out liberals, college grads tend to the right (people that never want to leave college are a different story). The “religious right” or extreme conservatives tend to be well educated and with high incomes. Not only are the religious more happy, but people who “cling” to guns are the opposite of bitter, and also tend to be well off. Support for Ds among those with advanced degrees is primarily due to public school teachers (so notorious as to spark the phrase “teachers unions of the right“). Their support among the educated is strongest among those with incomes under $75000 “the incomes of teachers, social workers, nurses, and skilled technicians, not of Hollywood stars, bestselling authors, or television producers, let alone corporate executives.”. Rather than intellectual elites, those in education have the lowest standardized test scores. Steve Sailer once explained how Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fight with California public sector unions failed as being because the white middle class identified with them. If someone wants to take on the Minotaur, that’s who they’ll have to deal with (and it will be ugly) not a gaggle of hipsters and journalists (the latter of whom not unlikely in the employ of GOP voters).
MM likes to harp about how “Brahmins” are an elite that look down on Vaisyas and Vaisyas aspire to be and with reference to Ayers says that the “super rich” are very liberal even if the upper class more generally is conservative. But even in Manhattan the richest are more right-wing than the more moderately rich and Yankees fans are to the right of Mets fans (that’s relatively speaking, NYT is still quite liberal). Even the conservatism of the active duty military is due to officers rather than “proles”, and among veterans any correlation dissappears if one controls for the fact that they are older males. The big realignment in politics in the second half of the 20th century was the end of the one-party era of the Solid South, not any sort of rejection by Vaisyas of the New Deal state. Racial attitudes play a big role in MM’s world view, which he claims fall on the latte-sipping Volvo-driving windsurfing vs Bible-thumping flag-waving deer-hunting divide, but Bartels shows that attitudes toward government aid to blacks is best predicted by views on government supported full employment and worst predicted by cultural views. MM accepted my paraphrase of him saying “the Polygon recruits minorities as their Stasi” but Caplan found the more educated blacks are the LESS likely they are to support affirmative action (as I mention in that link, education also predicts less support for more environmental regulation). You’ll note that I make a lot of references to data others have analyzed. If you don’t do that you end up spouting David Brooks style pop sociology, which in Brooks’ case was also flat wrong. MM has similarly made much of distinctive consumer choices of Brahmins, backed up with “Trust me, I live in San Francisco, I know what I’m talking about”. David Brooks is a Manhattenite, but he didn’t know what he was talking about.
BELATED SECOND UPDATE: I had been looking for a much older post at Volokh showing higher support for the GOP among the college educated but failed. A recent one reiterates, links and elaborates.
BONUS UPDATE: A commenter on partisanship gets mocked at Volokh for their ignorance of evidence. What “Just. Does. Not. Happen.” Just. Did.