John Kastellec sends in this blog entry by Jay Nordlinger, entitled “Dept. of Enduring Myths”:
I’ve just come back from a weekend in Vermont — and here’s how I understand it: Modestly off people — “real Vermonters,” as some people say — are voting for McCain and Palin. Comfortably off people, such as those who own ski chalets, are voting for Obama and Biden. And the following has been frequently noted about the city of my residence, New York: The rich are voting Democratic. And those who work for them — driving cars, cleaning rooms, and so on — are voting Republican.
Yet, when I was growing up, the Republican party was always called the party of the rich, and it still suffers from that label. Over and over, that which I was taught is contradicted by the evidence of my lived experience.
Here are the results from the 2000 and 2004 exit polls:
At a national level, Republicans did much better among the rich than the poor. In New England, the relation between income and voting is weak, with richer voters being slightly more likely to vote Republican. We’ll have to see what happens in 2008.
P.S. As statisticians we’re taught to rely less on our lived experience and on impressions from a weekend visit to Vermont, and more on random-sample survey data. And that’s what I’m doing here. But I have to admit that in many areas of my professional life (for example, in considering strategies for teaching and for research), I rely pretty much only on my lived experience and on the research equivalents of weekend visits to Vermont. Somehow, for things that affect me directly, statistical principles become less important. So I can see how, for a political journalist such as Nordlinger, it can be difficult to discount one’s personal impressions. Nonetheless, I hope he can do so.