Myths and Realities

Jay Nordlinger writes at The Corner:

Dept. of Enduring Myths [Jay Nordlinger]

I’ve just come back from a weekend in Vermont — and here’s how I understand it: Modestly off people — “real Vermonters,” as some people say — are voting for McCain and Palin. Comfortably off people, such as those who own ski chalets, are voting for Obama and Biden. And the following has been frequently noted about the city of my residence, New York: The rich are voting Democratic. And those who work for them — driving cars, cleaning rooms, and so on — are voting Republican.

Yet, when I was growing up, the Republican party was always called the party of the rich, and it still suffers from that label. Over and over, that which I was taught is contradicted by the evidence of my lived experience.

That may what “the evidence of [Nordlinger’s] lived experience” says, but it would be strongly at odds with the historical pattern. Here’s Andrew Gelman’s map of voting patterns among the top third of the income distribution in 2004:


As you can see, John Kerry did win the votes of most rich people in California, New York, and Maryland. These states happen to be where most influential media people live, and this often gives influential media personalities a misleading impression of the voting behavior of rich people overall. But rich Vermonters, like rich Alabamans and rich Oregonians and rich Texans voted for George W. Bush. Which, if you know what you’re talking about, isn’t surprising — rich people vote Republican.

By contrast, this is the equivalent map for people in the bottom third of the income distribution:

Here you see overwhelming support for Democrats, including in Vermont. Those are the facts. Presumably the McCain-Obama map will look somewhat different, but it would be bizarre for the pattern to reverse itself as Nordlinger seems to be anticipating.