Steve really is a treasure. Good on him for getting some more exposure.
He’ll blush, but I think Steve may be America’s greatest living journalist. The only one I can think of today who consistently breaks huge stories of the same importance is Seymour Hersh — I don’t like Hersh or his agenda, but I give props where it’s due to just journalist resourcefulness.
All the Douthats and Yglesii of the world are careful partisan hacks by comparison (and even without comparison). In an earlier age they would be called Trimmers:
Steve is onto something, but he has it on its head. He sees cheap housing as the means to start a family early and make one inclined to vote republican. It’s reasonable to see it that way, but I don’t think that’s the origin.
The origin is in social and (sometimes) religious culture surrounding the individuals living in those areas. Most of my friends in NYC didn’t move into larger places when they got married, so why did they wait till they were well into their 30s to get married? It’s because of social pressures.
To make this clear I will point to a group on which home prices has no effect. Growing up in MA most of my peers were democrats, more than my contemporaries in red states. Home prices has nothing to do with the political stance they had and would most likely keep for the rest of their lives. What did effect them was the social, cultural, and religious environment, along with the standing political environment that supports the static perpetuation of the local political stance. It is possible that home prices were the original reason that the ancestors of MA residents had democratic ideals, but that fails to explain the perpetuation of such ideals.
The strength of Sailer’s “Affordable Family Formation” argument is that he framed it as a hypothesis, then did a set of regression analyses to get a sense of its strengths. The variables he highlights correlate to a much better extent than do those nominated by other poly-sci theorists.
This obviously doesn’t constitute proof of his correctness, but it’s a strong sign he’s onto something. Insisting that notions must accord with data instead of the other way around, who’d a thunk?
For the reasons asdf suggests, Sailer is a delight to read.
Home prices has nothing to do with the political stance they had and would most likely keep for the rest of their lives.
For sure it does. There’s a feedback loop there. If you can’t buy a home till you’re in your late 20′s or early 30′s, you marry later or not at all. Incentives really do matter. White women do not want to raise kids in an apartment. And once they have kids and a husband, suddenly they aren’t so enthusiastic about massive taxes and public schools.
So I’m looking out my window waiting for the rain of toads . . .
Seriously, I would love to know how that happened — the comment thread will no doubt be hilarious. I’ve long suspected that the non-stupid movers and shakers among political bloggers (e.g. Yglesias) paid more attention to Steve than they dared let on, but I didn’t expect this kind of verification.
The link to Ben Franklin’s essay in the second post was a nice touch, considering that the last few paragraphs of Franklin’s essay would make any TPM reader choke on their coffee.
AMac, I agree that there is a correlation, and Steve might be right. I’m simply proposing an alternative hypothesis. Let’s assume that all the young SWPL folk are all thinking “Gosh, I’d love to get married but a house is so expensive!” While them not getting married early might account for them becoming more conservative as they get older, it doesn’t account for why they are more liberal as youths.
I just don’t buy the fact that a 15 year old girl from a blue state is likely to be directly influenced to be a democrat based on housing prices. Maybe later in life, but not when her political ideals are forming. She might be thinking about getting being single for longer, but that a product of social pressures more than anything. I believe Steve’s twin from Dallas is more likely to get married earlier because all of her friends are, housing influences that a bit, but only a bit.
asdf #3, I don’t have any data to back this up, you’ll have to forgive me, but I think that you’ll agree with these two facts:
1. Children are more likely to vote for the same party their parents vote for (if both parents vote similarly). 2. People vote pretty consistently throughout their lives (usually getting slightly more conservative as the get older/married, as Steve pointed out).
While getting married early might make up part of that “Connecticut gap,” I don’t think demographics explain all of it. Why are the German’s more concerned about inflation than the French? It’s not a demographic thing, it’s an historical and cultural thing. The same with Connecticut. Why are the wealthy in CT more liberal? Because they are a different state, with different people, culture, history, etc.
That all being said, I did enjoy Steve’s piece. The thesis just doesn’t jive with me.
White women do not want to raise kids in an apartment. And once they have kids and a husband, suddenly they aren’t so enthusiastic about massive taxes and public schools.
asdf got that right.
My son only sets foot in public school to teach his peers to play chess in an after school program. Before he came along, a cool townhouse in the center of the city was our style, but we had to move because boys need space to run around and be boys.
I also have to agree with tdmg that politics in an geographic area is a social herd thing like religion, etc. Come to think of it, every Hindu I know has Hindu parents.