Skip to comments.Good Anaylsis: "Baby Gap: How birthrates color the electoral map"
Posted on 12/04/2004 6:03:48 AM PST by Uncledave
December 20, 2004 issue Copyright © 2004 The American Conservative
How birthrates color the electoral map
By Steve Sailer
Despite the endless verbiage expended trying to explain Americas remarkably stable division into Republican and Democratic regions, almost no one has mentioned the obscure demographic factor that correlated uncannily with states partisan splits in both 2000 and 2004.
Clearly, the issues that so excite political journalists had but a meager impact on most voters. For example, the press spent the last week of the 2004 campaign in a tizzy over the looting of explosives at Iraqs al-Qaqaa munitions dump, but, if voters even noticed al-Qaqaa, their reactions were predetermined by their party loyalty.
The 2000 presidential election, held during peace and prosperity, became instantly famous for illuminating a land culturally divided into a sprawling but thinly populated red expanse of Republicans broken up by small but densely peopled blue archipelagos of Democrats.
Four years of staggering events ensued, during which President Bush discarded his old humble foreign policy for a new one of nearly Alexandrine ambitions. Yet the geographic and demographic profiles of Bush voters in 2004 turned out almost identical to 2000, with the country as a whole simply nudged three points to the right.
Only a few groups appeared to have moved more than the average. The counties within commuting distance of New Yorks World Trade Center became noticeably less anti-Bush. Yet even the one purported sizable demographic changethe claim by the troubled exit poll that Bush picked up nine points among Hispanicsappears to be an exaggeration caused by small sample sizes and poor survey techniques. In the real world, Hispanic counties swung toward Bush only about as much as everybody else did.
That the president launched a war under false pretenses no doubt caused a few highly-informed constituencies, such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the subscribers to this magazine, to shift many of their votes, but almost every group large enough to be measurable by exit polling was relatively stable. If they supported Bushs foreign policy in 2000, they supported his contrary stance in 2004 and vice versa.
Still, this doesnt mean voters are choosing red or blue frivolously. Indeed, voters are picking their parties based on differing approaches to the most fundamentally important human activity: having babies. The white people in Republican-voting regions consistently have more children than the white people in Democratic-voting regions. The more kids whites have, the more pro-Bush they get.
Ill focus primarily on Caucasians, who overall voted for Bush 58-41, in part because they are doing most of the arguing over the meaning of the red-blue division. The reasons blacks vote Democratic are obvious, and other racial blocs are smaller. Whites remain the 800-pound gorilla of ethnic electoral groups, accounting for over three out of every four votes.
The single most useful and understandable birthrate measure is the total fertility rate. This estimates, based on recent births, how many children the average woman currently in her childbearing years will have. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 2002 the average white woman was giving birth at a pace consistent with having 1.83 babies during her lifetime, or 13 percent below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. This below-replacement level has not changed dramatically in three decades.
States, however, differ significantly in white fertility. The most fecund whites are in heavily Mormon Utah, which, not coincidentally, was the only state where Bush received over 70 percent. White women average 2.45 babies in Utah compared to merely 1.11 babies in Washington, D.C., where Bush earned but 9 percent. The three New England states where Bush won less than 40 percentMassachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Islandare three of the four states with the lowest white birthrates, with little Rhode Island dipping below 1.5 babies per woman.
Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule. (The least prolific red states are West Virginia, North Dakota, and Florida.)
In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.
Among the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., white total fertility correlates at a remarkably strong 0.86 level with Bushs percentage of the 2004 vote. (In 2000, the correlation was 0.85.) In the social sciences, a correlation of 0.2 is considered low, 0.4 medium, and 0.6 high.
You could predict 74 percent of the variation in Bushs shares just from knowing each states white fertility rate. When the average fertility goes up by a tenth of a child, Bushs share normally goes up by 4.5 points.
In a year of predictably partisan books, one lively surprise has been Whats the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank, a left-wing journalist from Kansas who, after a sojourn in Chicago, now lives with his wife and single child in the Democratic stronghold of Washington, D.C. Frank is puzzled by why conservative Republicans in his home state are obsessed with cultural issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and teaching evolution in the schools instead of the leftist economic populism that Frank admires in Kansass past.
While the Christian Right in Kansas doesnt much hold with Darwin, they are doing well at the basic Darwinian task of reproducing themselves: pro-life Kansas has the fourth-highest white fertility in the country at 2.06 babies per woman, and the birthrate of the conservative Republicans that Frank finds so baffling is likely to be even higher. On the crucial question of whether a group can be bothered not to die out, Whats the Matter with Massachusetts? would be a more pertinent question. Massachusettss whites are failing to replace themselves, averaging only 1.6 babies per woman, and the states liberal Democrats are probably reproducing even less than that.
So white birthrates and Republican voting are closely correlated, but what causes what? The arrow of causality seems to flow in both directions.
To understand whats driving this huge political phenomenon, you have to think like a real-estate shopper, not like an intellectual. Everybody loves to talk real estate, but the sharp insights into how the world works that you hear while shooting the breeze about houses and neighborhoods seldom work their way into prestigious discourse about public affairs.
As youve seen on all those red-blue maps, most of Americas land is red, even though Kerry won 48 percent of the vote. Even excluding vast Alaska, Bushs counties are only one-fourth as densely populated on average as Kerrys counties. Lower density helps explain why red regions both attract the baby-oriented and encourage larger families among those already there.
A dozen years ago, University of Chicago sociologist Edward O. Laumann and others wrote a tome with the soporific postmodern title The Social Organization of Sexuality. I wrote to them and suggested a follow-up called The Sexual Organization of Society because, in my experience with Chicago, where people lived coincided with their sexual status. In 1982, when I moved to Chicago as a young single man, I sought out detailed advice on where the greatest density of pretty girls lived and there rented a 21st-floor apartment with a stunning view of Lake Michigan. I became engaged three years later, and so, mission accomplished, I moved to a less chic neighborhood with more affordable rents. Two years later, when my bride became pregnant, we relocated to an even more unfashionable spot where we could buy ample square footage. (To my satisfaction, Laumanns team just this year published a categorization of Chicagos neighborhoods entitled The Sexual Organization of the City.)
My experience is hardly unusual. Singles often move to cities because the density of other singles makes them good places to become unsingle. But singles, especially women, generally vote Democratic. For example, in the 2002 midterm elections, only 39 percent of unmarried women and 44 percent of unmarried men voted for a GOP candidate for the House of Representatives. In contrast, 56 percent of married women voted for the GOP, similar to their husbands 58 percent. The celebrated gender gap is, in truth, largely a marriage gap among women.
When city couples marry, they face major decisions: do they enjoy the adult-oriented cultural amenities of the city so much that they will stick it out, or do they head for the suburbs, exurbs, or even the country to afford more space for a growing family?
Couples attempting to raise children in a big blue city quickly learn the truth of what bond trader Sherman McCoys father told him in Tom Wolfes Bonfire of the Vanities: If you want to live in New York, youve got to insulate, insulate, insulate. Manhattan liberals all believe in celebrating diversity in theory but typically draw the line at subjecting their own offspring to it in the public schools. With Manhattan private K-12 school tuitions now approaching $25,000, insulating multiple children rapidly becomes too expensive for all but the filthy rich.
In tempting contrast, the cost-of-living calculator provided by Realtor.com says that a $100,000 salary in liberal Manhattan buys only as much as a $38,000 salary in conservative Pinehurst, North Carolina. Likewise, a San Francisco couple earning $100,000 between them can afford just as much in Cedar City, Utah if the husband can find a $44,000-a-year joband then the wife can stay home with their children. Moreover, the culture of Cedar City is more conducive to child rearing than San Francisco. Having insulated themselves through distance rather than money, they can now send their kids to public schools. (Among red states, the South has lower white fertility than the northern Great Plains and Great Basin, perhaps because many Southern conservatives, like many Manhattan liberals, prefer private schools, which makes children more expensive than out in Lewis & Clark Country, where the public schools are popular because they arent terribly diverse.) In Cedar City, the wife wont feel as unprestigious for being a stay-at-home mom as she would in San Francisco. And mom wont have to chauffeur the kids everywhere because traffic and crime are light enough that they can ride their bikes.
With more children, the couple will have less money per child to buy insulation from Americas corrosive media culture, so they are likely to look to the government for help. Typically, red-region parents dont ask for much, often just for quasi-symbolic endorsements of family values, the non-economic gestures that drive Thomas Frank crazy. But theres nothing irrational about trying to protect and guide your children. As the socially conservative black comedian Chris Rock advises fathers, Your main job is to keep your daughter off The Pole (i.e., to keep her from becoming a stripper).
That red-region parents want their politicians to endorse morality does not necessarily mean that red staters always behave more morally than blue staters. While there are well-behaved red states such as Utah and Colorado, hell-raising white Texans are 3.4 times more likely than white New Yorkers to be behind bars. Similarly, whites in conservative Mississippi and South Carolina are one-sixth as likely as blacks in those states to be imprisoned, compared to the national average of one-ninth. By contrast, in ultra-liberal Washington D.C., whites are only one-fifty-sixth as likely to be in the slammer as blacks.
The late socialist historian Jim Chapin pointed out that it was perfectly rational for parents with more children than money to ask their political and cultural leaders to help them insulate their kids from bad examples, even, or perhaps especially, if the parents themselves are not perfect role models.
Focusing on children, insulation, and population density reveals that blue-region white Democrats positions on vouchers, gun control, and environmentalism are motivated partly by fear of urban minorities.
In 2001, the Wall Street Journals favorite mayor, Brett Schundler, ran for governor of New Jersey on a platform of vouchers to help inner-city children attend better schools in the suburbs. The now notorious Democrat Jim McGreevey beat him badly because white suburban moderates shunned this Republican who put the welfare of urban minority children ahead of their own. These homeowners were scraping together big mortgage payments precisely to get their kids into exclusive suburban school districts insulated from what they saw as the ghetto hellions that Schundler hoped to unleash on their children. They had much of their net worths tied up in their homes, and their property values depended on the local public schools high test scores, which they feared wouldnt survive an onslaught of slum children. So they voted Democratic to keep minorities in their place.
The endless gun-control brouhaha, which on the surface appears to be a bitter battle between liberal and conservative whites, also features a cryptic racial angle. What blue-region white liberals actually want is for the government to disarm the dangerous urban minorities that threaten their childrens safety. Red-region white conservatives, insulated by distance from the Crips and the Bloods, dont care that white liberals kids are in peril. Besides, in sparsely populated Republican areas, where police response times are slow and the chances of drilling an innocent bystander are slim, guns make more sense for self-defense than in the cities and suburbs.
White liberals, angered by white conservatives lack of racial solidarity with them, yet bereft of any vocabulary for expressing such a verboten concept, pretend that they need gun control to protect them from gun-crazy rural rednecks, such as the ones Michael Moore demonized in Bowling for Columbine, thus further enraging red-region Republicans.
Likewise, liberals in blue areas such as Northern California pioneer environmental restrictions on development in part to keep out illegal immigrants and other poor minorities. Thinly populated Republican areas are pro-development because increasing density raises property values as once remote regions obtain roads, sewer hookups, cable television, local shopping, and nice restaurants. If poorly planned, however, overcrowding causes property values to lag, allowing poor people to move in.
Conservative Southern California, home to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, was traditionally more laissez faire than liberal Northern California, ultimately allowing itself to be inundated by poorly educated illegal aliens, wrecking the public schools. In contrast, environmentalistand thus expensiveNorthern California attracted a variety of skilled immigrants. Eventually, many Los Angeles Republicans either fled inland or decided that those San Francisco Democrats had the right idea all along.
Now illegal immigrants are flocking to other pro-growth red states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, and may eventually turn those states Democratic due both to the Democratic-voting immigrants very high birthrates and to a California-style drift toward environmentalism among its white voters as laissez faire proves inadequate to keep out illegal aliens.
Nobody noticed that the famous blue-red gap was a white baby gap because the subject of white fertility is considered disreputable. But I believe the truth is better for us than ignorance, lies, or wishful thinking. At least, its certainly more interesting. _________________________________________________________
Steve Sailer is TACs film critic. He also writes for VDARE.com and iSteve.com.
No, you're just the only one who interprets it this way.
Whatsa matter, can't take having someone reason their way to a logical conclusion?
If memory serves, they endorsed Kerry
Actually they endorsed no one. The final pre-election issue had four articles championing the four candidates of note: Bush, Kerry, Badnarik and Peroutka. Buchanan went for Bush.
then seems to turn into a xenophobic, race-obsessed doomsday prediction?
Oh, of course. Any discussion of caucasians in any context is always xenophobic, right, liberal? If he had said "it's disgraceful how ethnically homogeneous these places are! Where are the minorities?!" like a NYT writer, you'd be applauding approvingly.
So, how's them Rockefeller Readings going, Mr. Multi-Culturalist-UN man?
Aside from the author using 'child rearing' and 'San Francisco' in the same sentence, this is a great article.
I found the article fascinating but the anti-bush bias and (in the last few paragraphs, the xenophobic racism) was over the top. It did point out that blue cities tend to be that way because young singles go there to concentrate on their careers and live it up. When they have families they see the virtue of putting some distance between themselves and the throbbing streets. Author Sailer does point out the often overlooked phenomenon of neighborhoods, municipalities, regions, etc. wanting to pull up the drawbridge and keep the riffraff out (through zoning, "environmentalism," clamping down on roadbuilding, etc. I object to his blanket insinuations about "poor people." A great many "poor people" are youngsters starting out. As Mr. Jack Kemp (re: Empower America) would tell you, even "poor people" of whatever color tend not to despoil their own communities when they own their own homes, however humble. Dr. Theodore Dalrymple reminds us in his every article that the barbarism of the ghetto/barrio/trailer park is caused by the psychological debilitations of the welfare state. Thomas Sowell, when he gets going on about his youth, never hesitates to remind us that poor communities are not necessarily sinkholes of pathology.
The houses of my own neighborhood in Arlington, VA have become rental properties as the older residents die off. The newest phenomenon is that of old houses being bought and torn down with mini-Mcmansions being built on the lots for wealthy empty-nesters. But very few young families can afford to come here. The place has gotten very "young" as all the renters tend to be up-and-comers fresh out of college starting their careers in Beltway-land. If they settle and have kids they have to move farther out and subject themselves to the torment of commuting. The "beaners" live crammed like sardines in an area of comparatively old, cheap apartments.
Concerning abortion, I do belive in the "Roe Effect" but would like to point out some other hard to quantify factors. As others have noted, conservative families TEND to have more children and conservative (and religious) families TEND to stay together. What we need is to survey high-school valedictorians, SAT top scorers and Phi Beta Kappas and see just how many of them come from stable, two-parent (and coincidentally conservative) families. It's more than raw numbers, I am willing to bet this country's new generation of movers and shakers tend not to come from single moms, broken homes, "blended families" or any other kind of fashionable arrangement liberals profess to love.
And again, I venture to point out this where the Muslims have the advantage, being that in their self-segregated societies, women are not allowed to do anything BUT have kids. Then again, that points out the supreme logic of welfare reform in this country as (unlike Old Europe) we will no longer pay people to have kids on the taxpayer dime. Remember the most important thing about Abu Hamza, the notorious hook-handed, hate-spewing imam of London's infamous Finsbury Park Mosque was that he and his entire family turned out to be living it up on the dole.
Oh, The Horror. The Horror.
So, Big Guy. Criticise the argument. Where is he wrong?
Oh good! A new word, teutonic in its catenated construction. Maybe you, as the Authority on the Constitution, could define in what way Sailer has an aversion to the Constitution, and how such an attitude has paleolithic origins.
If you can't vote them out, breed them out...
Umm, where? Are you saying that merely talking about what illegal immigration has done to Los Angeles and Southern California is racist and xenophobic? Are you a PC cop, here to enforce nothing but good words for the millions who have violated the laws of the United States to get here?
Maybe you could explain yourself, and tell us all why you think illegal immigration is such a wonderful thing, and beyond criticism.
Hated to give you the wrong idea, if you're familiar with my other postings you would know I'm as against illegal immigration as any of you. It's just the obsessive nature of the author's writing that rubbed me the wrong way. I have my doubts that events in those regions have transpired the way they have for the reasons he espouses. The illegals follow the industries that hire them. But banishing illegals and keeping out "low-income" people and anti-development mania get conflated in the author's mind and I think he mixes it all together and puts a nasty gloss on it. It's the PC local governments and their "sanctuary" laws that allow the enemy to concentrate.
"Help, help, I'm being oppressed." :P
"Massachusettss whites are failing to replace themselves, averaging only 1.6 babies per woman, and the states liberal Democrats are probably reproducing even less than that. "
One has to assume that's because lesbians and gays don't typically have a lot of kids.
I hope the GoP and Pres. Bush realize that the hispanic vote (and plenty of illegals voted, don't think they didn't- 8 of the 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote according to Rep. Hayworth) did not win this election, poor whites did.
From an earlier post:
I live in Northern California and I can tell you that his analysis of the difference in what happened between Northern and Southern California is quite accurate. It is still happening: in Santa Cruz county, the citizens just voted down a measure to widen Highway 1, which would help mitigate the massive jams we have now.
Why? Because they rightly perceive that improving the infrastructure will only invite more people to move here, regardless of race or nationality, and the problem will only return. So they figure that they'll live with the current catastrophe, and not give it a chance to get worse.
I disagree: I think if the immigration laws had been enforced, we could widen our roads without having to worry that another million Mexicans will appear overnight to set up camp. It's their way of having their cake and eating it too: they don't overtly condemn Mexican illegal immigration, they just erect unseen barriers like lack of infrastructure, zoning density laws, housing permit requirements which are impossible to meet, etc. which drive up prices and make it difficult for unskilled laborers to move in. Sidenote: it won't work in the long run, because eventually, ethnic agitators and other Democrats will agitate for required low income housing in developments (as just happened in Sacramento County), or outright "public" housing projects to house the illegals (which is already the case in majority Mexican parts of Santa Cruz and Monterey County, i.e., Watsonville and Salinas).
He's simply pointing out that that in Los Angeles, it didn't happen that way. LA simply kept building out, with illegals congregating in the urban core and whites (and blacks, interestingly enough) simply moving to the periphery or out of state alltogether. And the theory is that LA did not have the same "no-growth" attitude, and what it looks like now is the result of that. It may not be the only reason (industries willing to hire unskilled, illegal alien workers being another, as you point out), but it certainly is one of the reasons, and a big one at that.
Oh no, quick call Kofi Annan!
This article is dead on the money. One of the best political analyses I've seen this year.
So I'm a liberal because I'm not a racist? Or is it because I'm not a Buchananite protectionist? You know, I'd have some interest in discussing the merits of the article with you - and it has its merits as well as its faults - if I thought you were capable of something more than name-calling, but you're clearly not. Take some advice from Dick Cheney and go f*** yourself, racist.
That line stuck out at me too. Why is it that many writers these days (on all sides) like to pepper their commentary with wild overstatements?
Honestly, the author lost a bit of cred with me with that line. And cred is something a writer can not afford to lose, you know?
What about hispanic and black babies. I hazard that the hispanic baby production is way way above white baby production.
So now you have delusions of grandeur? You're really channeling the Vice-President? How laughable.
Like I said, liberal, you're the only one who interpreted the article that way. And the reason is because you simply react to any mention of immigration or caucasians with the standard liberal theology, which is that both of those subjects cannot be discussed except under the two assumptions: Immigration good, caucasians bad.
That's the dominant leftist orthodoxy, and you're so deep in it, you ain't never coming back. Must've been that public school "education", right?
And the little swear words are sooooo scary. You musta made the keys bounce.
If anyone wants on or off my ProLife Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.
Shouldn't you be citing Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center when you're using their material?
A little anecdotal evideince: My wife and I are currently at 2.9 children (#3 is due any day now) and both of us voted for Bush.
Great graphic! Thanks!
I'm no liberal, and I agree with a lot of criticism of the black community that would get me in a heep of trouble with race baiters, but I'm pretty sure that articles from Vdare are banned on this site due to their attitudes on race.
Um, so? This forum bans a lot of things for reasons I don't agree with.
Criticise what Sailer has said here. And if you really want to live dangerously, you could - gasp! - go read VDARE yourself. Then come back and tell us if you agree, disagree, or just don't care.
Do you just ignore something that someone says based on a third party rule like FreeRepublic "banning" them? Are you that narrow minded? Hell, I read La Raza's crap and even MEChA's seditionist tripe. Are you afraid your mind might be poisoned by un-approved ideas?
What a leftist notion. How paranoid.
And of course, you haven't got any other arguments other than your favorite leftist catch words.
By the way, I would say that you with a lot of racists: Iowa is 95% non-Hispanic white?! Where oh Where are the minorities???
You know, with a population of 2.9 million in all of Iowa, there are more illegal aliens in the LA basin then there are people in all of Iowa. I mean, California has 36 million people of whom less than half are "white", and headed for about 1/3 in the next 10 years. But you got the gall to sit there in WhiteLandia and call other people racists? Move to Wilmington or South Gate for a few years, podunk. Then come out and call the rest of us names. Have you ever even met someone who isn't caucasian?
Y'all racists in Iowa are really horrifying people. You must have ethnically cleansed all the non-WASPs from the state. How could you? Aren't you ashamed?
Laughing REALLY out loud!!
Thanks. That one says it all. Saves me a big long winded post.
That's exactly who these jerks are on this thread. The race baiters and finger pointers from the SPLC.
But do remember that if there were no available abortion, people might change their mating habits. Babies that might be conceived with the safety net of available killing might not be conceived if it weren't there.
White is an ethnicity? Since when? The left has utterly destroyed the language when skin color has become the definition of ethnicity or even the more insidious "race".
If I thought I owed you any explanation or defense of myself, I'd give it. I don't. I think it's best for everyone and best for FR if we let this little flame war die; you'll not receive another response from me.
Among other statistics in the report:
-- Births to unmarried mothers rose slightly.
-- Women of Hispanic origin had the highest birth rate, 96.9 per 1,000 women, compared to the overall rate of 66.1. (remember, this overall rate has the low white birthrate figured in)
Interesting angle *Bump!*
Oh no, really? Say it isn't so. I so want to hear from y'all Prairie Socialists up there where it's so ethnically....homogeneous. Must be difficult for you to live there, what with being so ethnophobic and xenophilic.
Ta ta, Rainbow Boy, and just remember: Sailer pointed out the obvious here. The Republican party's core supporters are Anglo's who hold traditional values. White Democrats are dying out as a group because they practice democide, something that no rational group does. And the corollary conclusion is this: if it weren't for Third World immigration, the Democrats would already have disappeared.
"White liberals, angered by white conservatives lack of racial solidarity with them"
nope, this Redneck's got no time fer no sodom-narity with them elitist white fancy folks. Me 'n' Clarence Thomas is goin' duck huntin'
Even that is inaccurate. What about the potential children of those aborted children?
Eisenhower had a very prudent operation wetback...
Not sure where you're going here... I posted that quote as an example of the policy positions of the American Conservative. It was not necessarily a slam on every point in the quote; just wanted to point out their slap at President Bush's foreign policy (not just immigration). What was "operation wetback"? (sorry, I'm only 29...)
I was merely adding to what you said, neither agreeing or disagreeing. "Operation Wetback" was the return of illegal immigrants to Mexico. It was very successful, if success is measured by deportees and enforcing the law.
Got it...thanks for the clarification. I hadn't heard of Operation Wetback; not at all a bad idea, although the name probably wouldn't fly today :)
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