Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Obese regions do vote for McCain, but McCain voters may not be especially obese   posted by Razib @ 10/20/2009 09:09:00 PM

A friend pointed me to this article in Slate which noted:
This size bias may ultimately play out along party lines. The last presidential election revealed a startling overlap between statewide obesity figures and support for the GOP. Despite losing in a landslide, John McCain carried all nine of the fattest states in the union and 16 of the top 20. (Obama prevailed in 17 of the 20 thinnest states, including New Jersey.) In the race for governor of a very blue state, Christie's girth marks him as an outsider-a member of the chunky-monkey Fox News demographic, the kind of guy who rides around in an SUV and eats Double Down sandwiches. If Christie stands in for America's boorish consumer culture, then Corzine-slender, bearded, and bespectacled-represents the cosmopolitan elite.

The issue though is that black Americans are more obese, and extremely black states exhibit a lot of racial polarization whereby McCain actually those states. My friend wondered if I could look on a more granular level. If I could find obesity data on all the counties in the nation, that would be easy, but I didn't find that. But, I did find obesity data for race, so the proportion of each state which are classified as obese who are non-Hispanic white, as well as exit polls of the white vote for McCain. The scatterplot below shows the outcome.

What about individual level data? In 2004 there was a variable which was interviewer perception of weight. Here's what the GSS says:

The 95% confidence intervals are their, including the N's. Not much difference. Perhaps the sample size is too small to tell, or perhaps how interviewers perceived people differed from region to region. I limited the sample to Non-Hispanic whites. Here's the variables:

Row: INTRWGHT(r:1 "Below Average"; 2 "Average"; 3-4 "Above Average")
Col: partyid(r:0-2 "Democrat";3 "Independent"; 4-6 "Republican") polviews(r:1-3 "Liberal";4 "Moderate" ;5-7 "Conservative")

Oh, and about fat people voting for fat candidates. I think the issue is that many fat people imagine that one day they won't be fat, so it's hard to create an identity around something you want to escape, and think you can, with enough hard work, or a miracle drug, or gastric bypass.

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