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Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do Hardcover – Aug. 10 2008
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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.
"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)
"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
"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
"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
From the Inside Flap
"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 ofThe 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 ofThe 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 ofWhy 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 theHuffington 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
- Publisher : Princeton University Press (Aug. 10 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 069113927X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691139272
- Item weight : 499 g
- Dimensions : 15.88 x 2.54 x 24.77 cm
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That said, the second edition was published in 2010 and ending with the Obama election of 2008. Fascinating as it is, the book is crying out to be updated for the rest of the Obama elections and, most importantly for those of Trump and Biden.
Please, Prof. Gelman, do think of updating the book as a model of simply illustrated and explained political analysis.
Since the 2000 election and the near dead even split in the electorate, the "red-blue" divide has captivated politicos. The blue states voted for Gore and Kerry, and the red states put George W. Bush in the White House. What has amazed a few people is the fact that the poor states are the red states, which seemed to fly in the face of the storyline that the poor normally vote Democratic. Why do red-poor states - those states that actually take more money from the federal government than their inhabitants pay towards the federal government - vote Republican? Some, like Thomas Frank in "What's the Matter with Kansas?," suggested that poor folks were suckered into voting Republican because Party leaders hyped social issues (abortion, gay marriage) to get the poor on board, all the while ensuring tax cuts were passed for the benefit of the wealthy. It is intriguing to note that after the better part of 30 years of time in the White House, Republicans really haven't done a great job of passing conservative social legislation, but have done a fine job with tax cuts that have largely benefited the wealthy (the wealthy do, of course, pay most of the taxes). Well, Gelman and the rest rebut Frank by pointing out that the poor do indeed - in all states - vote more for the Democratic Party than do the wealthy. Again, that is the case even in red states. Granted, there is probably a higher proportion of poor folks in red states voting Republican than they do in blue states, but even in red states the poor are more likely to vote Democratic. It's the WEALTHY who are causing the red-blue divide. That is, the wealthy are more likely to defect from their financial interests, and they do so, obviously, in the blue states. Furthermore, it is the wealthy who are arguing over social policy, and the poor are sticking to their economic interests. Most importantly for the Democratic Party, Gelman and friends point out that, contrary to the arguments of the left, Democrats would not improve electoral outcomes by becoming more liberal. Doing so will only cause more moderates to leave the Democratic Party. Still, as any Democrat has should have learned, the winning strategy is not always the chosen strategy.
Regardless, "Red State, Blue State..." is an easy to read book with plenty of citations for any reader who wants to dig deeper into the theory, methodology, and articles of serious public opinion and voting behavior scholarship.
My biggest complaints about the book aren't too big. First, the early chapters were particularly choppy and almost read as cut-and-paste efforts. Thankfully the nuggets were interesting, but the overall themes were elusive. Second, for a short book, the price is a bit steep. Don't get me wrong: I love an easy to read short book, but don't charge me a big book price for it. Otherwise, a fine job on an important issue, which may be a little less relevant now with President-electObama's impressive 2008 victory. A few missteps by him, however, and we're right back to the 49-49 split with the increased likelihood of red state led Republican victories.
Occasionally I would have liked more information on the analysis techniques used, but I realize I'm probably in a minority.