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The Republicans are becoming the stupid party

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Recently my wife asked me how stupid Republicans were. I made a comment to the effect that Republicans weren’t that stupid compared to Democrats. But…I hadn’t checked in a while. So I decided to look at the WORDSUM results in the GSS.

WORDSUM is a 10-word vocabulary test that has a 0.71 correlation with IQ.

I crossed WORDSUM with PARTYID and merged the different Republican and Democratic groups together. I looked at Republicans and Democrats, and then also filtered it by just non-Hispanic whites. The date range goes from 1974 to 2018.

As you can see, on the whole, Independents are less intelligent than Republicans and Democrats. This makes sense, as moderates are less intelligent than conservatives and liberals. Though there are plenty of bright people “in the middle,” many times Independents and moderates are just not very smart and don’t have any strong views and principles.

The pattern for Republicans and Democrats makes historical sense. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Republican party was the party of the upscale. This began to change in the 1990s, and in the 2000s a realignment began as many very educated individuals tended to become strongly identified with Republicans. But, there was still parity between non-Hispanic white Republicans and non-Hispanic white Democrats into the early teens. But over the last few years among non-Hispanic whites, the vocabulary scores of Democrats have been increasing and that of Republicans has been decreasing.

None of this is entirely surprising. I simply hadn’t bothered to check the GSS in many years on this topic. But the Republican party’s shift to being the downscale faction is clearly being reflected in these results.

Table below the fold.

YearDemocratIndependentRepublicanNHWhite DemocratNHWhite IndependentNHWhite Republican

(I still identify as a Republican and on the “Right” for what it’s worth)


21 thoughts on “The Republicans are becoming the stupid party

  1. It seems the fall is mainly in 2018 and can be called quite clearly the “Trump effect” – low level people who started to identify as Republicsn because of him while the Never Trumper are usually the more intellectual conservative types.

  2. John Stuart Mill:

    “What I stated was, that the Conservative party was, by the law of its constitution, necessarily the stupidest party. Now, I do not retract this assertion; but I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it. Now, if any party, in addition to whatever share it may possess of the ability of the community, has nearly the whole of its stupidity, that party, I apprehend, must by the law of its constitution be the stupidest party. And I do not see why hon. Gentlemen should feel that position at all offensive to them; for it ensures their being always an extremely powerful party.”

  3. In the November general election, the each major party candidate will receive the votes of 60+ million people.

    Their intelligence is average. For every college professor there are three illiterate drunkards.

  4. Recently my wife asked me how stupid Republicans were.

    Seems like this was not your typical IQ and demographics conversation. 🙂

    I think that your cautions in your prior post are very relevant here.

    I do think that this trend reflects the realignment of the US political parties (like we’ve seen in many other places, especially the UK) where the professional classes and the super wealthy (clerisy. oligarchs in Kotkin’s terms) have migrated to the “left” parties. The middle classes, who are not as educated as clerisy and have been abandoned by the left, are then forced to migrate to the right.

  5. Remarkable how close it is to ethnicity. The decline is less marked for NH whites than for the “total Republican” population. In the long term its still in the usual range for its supporters. 1988-1989 it was even lower!

    I think the shift is related to a much larger fraction of NH white highly educated and wealthy people going for Democrats, while Republicans became more diverse and motivating some of the less educated populace, which is no bad thing at all.

    Among some college graduates (especially from fields which are completely Culturally Marxist infested) the current Republican party became, especially among its females and those influenced by their girlfriends and female social environment, ineligible. That shows off.

    Its not a big effect at all so far. Thought it could be worse.

  6. Eric K:”I do think that this trend reflects the realignment of the US political parties (like we’ve seen in many other places, especially the UK) where the professional classes and the super wealthy (clerisy. oligarchs in Kotkin’s terms) have migrated to the “left” parties. The middle classes, who are not as educated as clerisy and have been abandoned by the left, are then forced to migrate to the right.”

    For what I know, the mass of the super wealthy are solidly on the right (the opposite perception is probably because, in the “sexyiest” economic sector – “information technology” – are many left-wing billionaires, and people forget the “boring” right-wing billionaires of the Old Economy).

    About the “middle class”, I suspect that this is largely an useless category, where almost everything is lumped (from traditional right-wing groups, like the middle and small businessman to traditional left-wing groups, like the blue-collar industrial workers); now, if you want to say that the blue-collar industrial workers are migrating to the right from the left, you are probably right (specially in countries where there is an right-wing alternative defending “law and order” and against “open borders” but without much talk of economic libertarianism or even traditional social conservatism), but even that I suspect that is a bit inflated by polls who define “working class” as “people without a college degree” (what includes many small businessman and that is perhaps almost a proxy for age as for class).

  7. the mass of the super wealthy are solidly on the right

    there aren’t many super-wealthy anyway. the effect has to be driven by the upper-middle class.

  8. The “mass of the super-wealthy” (which is an oxymoron anyway) is definitely not on the right. They are “on the right economically” (Capitalist) for the most part, so they want low taxes, free speculative money with less restrictions and more influence on society, but that’s it.

    Their societeal policy is Liberal and/ore Culturally Marxist for the most part and they use their money for spreading the message of the “pluralistic global society”.

    Basically the exert influence with their money, business, communication and media channels, keeping “the right” from being to nationalist and ethnocentric and keeping “the left” from being to social and anti-Capitalist. So you can combine for yourself what they don’t want, what they want the least, namely a combination of this which they call now, quite often “populism” or worse.

    That’s what the “super-rich”, the Plutocracy does, creating a controllable “moderate” left and right, distorting it, playing them out against each other and letting people vote between alternatives they gave their blessing before.

    So the influence of the plutocracy on the social sciences is part of the reason for the shift of NH whites to Leftism, because that’s ok for the Plutocrats as long as they don’t interfere with their interests and plans. This is the reason why they will try to prevent “a real socialist”, but promote “societal Cultural Marxism” which fits their globalist transformation plans.

  9. Urbanization & single women are big drivers. I am busy and will not elaborate.

    Note that almost all women seem to know instinctively that I am a Trump supporter. Interpret that how you will

  10. Per that Mill quote above, that stupid people are conservative, the one thing that Mill should have pointed out, and I guess would have if he was smarter than he was (Mill definitely overrated), is that a stupid radical (the opposite of conservative, both terms being relative to a particular present), is really stupid while a stupid conservative may not be the brightest, but isn’t a complete idiot. If you have trouble getting it right via original thinking about situations where you have little experience, being conservative, sticking to what you know works, even if you don’t really get why what works works, is the smart thing to do.

    Secondly no one is all in conservative in the US. Except the Amish. Technological change is disruptive of life far more than the government has been. Henry Ford and/or Thomas Edison changed America far more than FDR.

    Per that Kotkin article, I think all that is quite smart, though not Kotkin’s as in doesn’t everyone who has ever given that issue thought come to same conclusion? Expanding on all that and possible overthinking it, there is this guy Rene Girard that Peter Thiel and Tyler Cowen quite like who’s big idea is the fact that man is a mimetic learner, or learns by imitation. Per Girard, there are consequences to this fact. It seems to me that one might give Girard’s ideas on that some thought, and one should have a lot to say about conservative/radical (progressives are what American radicals are called at present), in the US in the present.

  11. IQ and wisdom should not be conflated.

    And, of course, it could be said that the GOP is increasingly more representative of and concerned about “stupid people” who are being derided and predated upon by the less stupid.

    My wife and I are traitors to our class – we both have doctorates, are Ivy League alums, and are “one percenters.” We are alienated from our class, because we are distressed and even disgusted by the contempt and the lack of concern people of our class have toward ordinary Americans, especially those who do not benefit from legally protected class status.

    We find this immoral and also destructive to the wellbeing of our society. We believe in a robust middle class, a vigorous and large yeomanry, if you will, and are opposed to the high and the low squeezing the middle.

    We are also faithful Christians and find the Democratic Party very hostile to our faith and values.

  12. Wordsum’s pretty decent proxy for IQ but imperfect.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if recent shifts in vocab test greater than shifts in real underlying g, due to correlated shifts in shape of the cognitive strengths profile.

  13. @Erik: What Joel Kotkin wrote was quite interesting and I can agree with many aspects of his essay, but he turns things around, as if the administrative class is a powerful agent on its own where it really matters.

    It is not. They are the menials of the Plutocracy and there are many instances, many cases of when the clerisy as he calls it changed its mind and position almost 180 degrees in a short period of time because they fell victim to the pressure and propaganda from the Plutocracy.

    Three such cases are Islam, Globalisation in general and how to deal with George Soros. If you read what leftist social oriented people wrote and did in the 1990’s and what they write and do now, to a large degree, this is a complete turn around in an unprecedented way. What was right and more or less made sense from their ideological position became a “politically correct” mess. They are no longer allowed to criticise or take a more critical position. Otherwise they are called backward, nationalist, racist, Islamophob, Anti-Semitic etc.

    And its the very same people which were quite vocal, for good reasons, in criticising these three issues in the past which are now shooting everybody down who does – even with the very same arguments they used themselves just 2-3 decades ago! Its completely insane!

    If you look at how this happened, how things turned around, its a lot of money and spinning in the background. The media made different campaigns, the “scientific” institutions started with different priorities and campaigns, and most important, there were all these NGO’s financed by the very same Plutocracy which pushed new agendas.

    So you had European Lefists (!) demonstrating against Trump which demanded more control over Globalisation. Or European Leftists (!) demonstrating for the right of conservative to radical Muslims to put their women under a scarf, or European Leftists (!) demonstrating in defense of George Soros and his agenda!

    Its absurd, its perverted, people became sheeple! If you live long enough and saw what happened in between, you just realise how some political positions of “the clerisy” turned upside down. And I know some Leftist people, how they really think and what really happened. The real reason for all of this is that a lot, a damned lot of money and power was pumped into governmental and non-governmental institutions to spread messages which are “ok for the Plutocracy” and put everything down which is “no longer ok for the Plutocracy” and its plans.

    The clerisy is to a large degree nothing but an executing organ which lost a lot of its own dynamic and independence. Its not big state, its not the administration, its not this class per se like in the essay. Its that the Plutocracy corrupted and manipulated these class until they themselves don’t know any longer what’s right or wrong and better howl with the wolves to be on the right side. And contrary to some commentators, what’s right and wrong for them being determined, for the most part, by the traditional mass media and allied NGO’s. And these are completely in the hands of the “super rich”, the Plutocracy. Go figure.

  14. Mill was not talking about some generic (small c) conservative grouping. He was talking about a very specific (capital C) Conservative Party, the Tories of early Victorian Britain.

    The Tories supported respectability and tradition, all that was “best in Britain”. I keep hearing about how Donald Trump is destroying what is best about America, showing no respect for experts and long established precedent.

  15. Obs, I keep telling you. There is no organized group “the Plutocracy” that is running things. It’s the Illumaniti, who have made you think so. By diverting attention to this brooding omnipresence, their own machinations are covered up.

  16. @Roger: You make fun of something which is much too serious. If you don’t realise how money is making opinions and politics in this Plutocratic society, you just miss the point.
    The small scale activists are, on their own, lost if the major communication channels and power structures work against them. And those major communication channels and power structures being largely controlled by a fairly small group of influential people, which exert disproportionate power.

    You don’t need to construct a big conspiracy to get it done, you just have to folow the money, especially the money flowing from foundations, private donors and investments into mass media business, universities, political organisations and parties, as well as NGO’s.

    Just follow the money.

    Interestingly, if a different policy being supported by someone wealthy, they make a big deal out of it:

    And like Rockefeller wrote to her, they thought she is on their side and promoting anti-natalistic policies at home too with even more consequence. That’s their understanding and if you don’t comply, you don’t belong to “them”.

  17. @Obs: That’s what they want you to say!

    Seriously, I make fun of your Plutocracy/Cultural Marxism comments for the same reason I would have made fun of Freud a century ago. In both cases, a wonderful dramatic story, full of moralizing and impossible to pin down entities, which prevents development of more realistic psychology in his case and social science in your’s. Which means preventing better ways of dealing with our problems.

  18. As another wrinkle on this, is this at all affected by changes in the distribution of male vs female respondents in each class?

    Females tend to have relatively stronger verbal profile and you seem to be getting these emerging young male:female splits across the West in political affiliation, while the older female:male are beginning to reverse the traditional patterns (which was that older females often tended more conservative voting, if not exactly “classically liberal”, compared to older males in the past due to “family values”, homeownership etc as a relatively higher priority compared to ideology and workers rights, which is less so today).

    Now, yes, I’d guess most of effect probably that across sex classes:

    – lower education White voters decreasingly confident post-Clinton Dems (or the wider Western left wing, really) can offer them anything in terms of well-being (or are even electorally motivated to do so)

    – smarter White independents being affected by partisan tides in culture and feeling they have to stand their ground with the Republican party… (“never thought I’d side fighting side by side with an elf”, as it were) but still being less smart than median Republicans so shifting Repub mean down (smarter Independents going Republican means Repubs and Indis both get dumber!).

    – plus Trump boost of saying the right things on negative globalisation shocks, pointless foreign wars in the ME and pro-WWC sentiment generally

    But might be a little sex skew effect augmenting? Sex vocab effect between males and females on vocab on GSS seems small (looks about 0.1 SD, about same size as White Repub+Dem gap), but is present.

  19. Although that said to qualify, that 0.1 SD sex effect on vocab score on GSS is pretty population specific.

    US born non-Hispanic Whites show a bias in favour of higher female scores.

    But all other groups, other than foreign born Black folks (female advantage similar magnitude to US born nHW) show male superiority or rough parity.

    (Of course, US born Whites are majority of sample so the overall hashes out mostly where they do.)

    E.g. –

  20. Thanks Razib. This White-ish Mexican is gonna have to do some reading.

    Maybe I could upgrade myself from PHP coder to Java this weekend.

    My dad arrived from a trip to a nearby town of San Antonio yesterday. I mother-f*ck*r*d him for the trip. Hope he didn’t bring any of the virus home to Mexico.

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