Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bartels on Obama

It's nice that, every once in a while, a political scientist gets to weigh in on politics. In today's NYT, Larry Bartels demonstrates that Obama's "bitter" comments aren't so much offensive as they are inaccurate.

Last week in Terre Haute, Ind., Mr. Obama explained that the people he had in mind “don’t vote on economic issues, because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them.” He added: “So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington.”

This is a remarkably detailed and vivid account of the political sociology of the American electorate. What is even more remarkable is that it is wrong on virtually every count.

Small-town people of modest means and limited education are not fixated on cultural issues. Rather, it is affluent, college-educated people living in cities and suburbs who are most exercised by guns and religion. In contemporary American politics, social issues are the opiate of the elites.

Bartels reminds us that rural, working-class voters actually preferred Kerry to Bush in 2004, media stereotypes to the contrary. It's a nice piece of political science compressed into standard op/ed length. Worth the read.


APP said...

Good column. He's still a commie.

Enik said...

Bartels or Obama?

Ari said...

Political scientists should be seen and not heard.

Enik said...

Historians should be touched and not smelled.