Reader survey results: politics

Since the reader survey is topping out in response, I though I’d report some of the results. Since I’ve been doing these surveys my readership has exhibited a few patterns, and I was curious as to any changes since moving to Discover. Not too much has shifted. Instead of 15% female, as was the case for years, the readers are now 25% female. It looks like ~10% of the readers know this website only through Discover. Feel free to browse the results yourself.

I think the most interesting aspect for many is the political diversity. Generally the readership is split between Left liberals and libertarians. Though there are a small number of conventional conservatives, it is very rare to find those who are socially conservative and fiscally liberal. These “populists” tend not to be as intelligent as the other combinations, and so I suspect that’s why they’re not well represented on the web, among my readership, or the political elite of the United States in general (for what it’s worth, I’ve been moving in a more populist direction over the years, starting from a libertarian stance).

First, a few summary statistics. I asked readers their index of liberalism, with 0 being as conservative as possible, 10 as liberal, and 5 in the middle. I asked on two dimensions, social and economic.


Median – 8
Mean -7.4
Standard Deviation – 2.48


Median – 5
Mean -5.01
Standard Deviation – 2.74

The correlation between social and economic liberalism was 0.37. Here is a chart which illustrates the different distributions:


I’ve smoothed a bit, but it’s clear that while there’s several modes in the economic liberalism distribution, there’s a strong liberal slant on social issues. Not that surprising. But I wanted to look at the combinations, so I created some bubble plots. The size of the circle is proportional to the weight of the particular political combination within the set (or subset).

First, the whole data set.


You see four quadrants. The plural majority of readers are liberal, followed by libertarians, then conservatives, then populists. Remove the centrists (those who selected 5 on either social or economic responses) and summing up the numbers in the quadrants, here are the percentages:

Liberals – 40%

Libertarian – 28%

Conservative – 11%

Populist – 3%

(the rest are in the borderline zones)

Now let’s look at the subsamples and how that impacts distribution.


Female readers tend to be more liberal.

I’ll just leave you with the rest of the bubble charts with minimal comment. But if you want to know something about the data, ask in the comments. Doing the analysis isn’t usually that hard, but I don’t know what people want to know (virgins are young, but not different than the rest of the readership).

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