Marxists tell us that money is more powerful than anything else. I'm not so sure. Watching the primaries has reminded me of the power of race.
Which predicts voting patterns better: income or race/ethnicity? I want to compare all large ethnic groups in America, so let's choose Americans (like myself) of English descent as our comparison group since they were mostly likely to vote for Romney in 2012. For the first comparison, let's look at blacks. I ran a regression that includes this racial dichotomy along with income as predictors, voting for Obama over Romney as the outcome variable, and I list the standardized coefficients below:
Income does not predict voting, but race is an extremely powerful predictor: Blacks were MUCH more likely than English-Americans to vote for Obama. Let's do those of Chinese descent next:
Being Chinese (instead of English) had a stronger effect: It predicted voting for Obama more strongly than did poverty. Now let's look at an important ethnic group: Jews.
Even with the small racial difference, being Jewish rather than English was a much better predictor of voting behavior than income. We're getting the picture here that race is a more powerful determinant of behavior, at least in the context of politics.
Here are the results for the other racial comparisons (all groups are compared with Americans of English descent):
Asian Indian .23
Puerto Rican .21
West Indian .13
American Indian .18
You can see that for Mexicans, Asian Indians, Puerto Ricans, and American Indians, race determines political orientation more than income. Race is just about as powerful as class for the other groups.
Economic determinists would predict that the race-voting correlation would disappear when income is controlled, but we see that income is the weaker influence. Removing the effect of income, minorities seem to vote out of fear, as if their security or values might be undermined if Republicans get too much power. (I didn't control for urbanness which might be another factor.)
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