Thursday, February 14, 2008

Are jocks conservative? Honestly, I haven't followed sports much since I was a kid, but I have a lot of respect for it since, at least when it is functioning as it should, sports teaches conservative values: self-discipline, work ethic, competitiveness, merit, personal responsibility, rejection of excuses, etc.

So, this makes me wonder if athletes are, as a group, politically conservative. Off the top of my head, I can think of more famous Republican athletes--Gerald Ford, Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts, Steve Largent--but then there is Bill Bradley on the other side.

The General Social Survey asked 1,210 white Americans two questions: whom they voted for in 2000, and how well the term "athletic" describes them. Below, I compare those who said "very well" and "not at all":

Percent who voted for Bush in 2000

Athletic men 63.5
Unathletic men 46.7

Athletic women 62.5
Unathletic women 54.9

The difference is more striking for the men--I'm getting a mental image of the wimpy liberal guy here--but athletic women are also more likely to vote Republican. There weren't enough blacks to analyze, but based on the few cases, it looks like the percent of them that votes Democrat falls into the 80-90 percent range if they're athletes. Evidently, there is some connection between sports culture and conservatism.


  1. Is there a way to control for age? If I'm not mistaken, older voters were more likely to vote for Bush than younger ones, and it's certainly reasonable to assume that the percentage of people who describe themselves as athletic declines with age.

  2. Anonymous8:27 AM

    You answered your own question:

    "...sports teaches conservative values: self-discipline, work ethic, competitiveness, merit, personal responsibility, rejection of excuses, etc."

    Not much of this is found in liberalism/progressivism.

  3. I would question self-reported athleticism. Perhaps liberals have lower self-esteem, or conservatives are more afraid of appearing weak. That said, some data is better than none.

  4. Why don't you look at the intermediate values? It would be interesting to see if there's some sort of U-shaped effect (perhaps related to age as Peter said).

  5. scott8:32 PM

    Check out the "Sports" section at NewsMeat "America's most popular campaign donor search engine".

    NewsMeat: Sports

    Party donations among sports stars favor Republicans over Democrats. Take special note of donations by *black* sports stars. Blacks vote for Democrats over Republicans by a factor of 4:1, but you would not know it from this list.

    NewsMeat also has lists for "Celebrities", "Media Personalities" and "Business Executives". Guess what the breakdowns are before you look.

  6. Anonymous10:41 PM

    What is the average IQ of jocks and non-jocks?

  7. Not surprised, actually...a friend of mine made the analysis that jocks were conservative and geeks liberal. Actually I've found geeks to go either way and it's the artsy types who lean furthest to the left.

  8. Good work as always. I was reminded of this when I was reading a different blog and someone commented that talk radio (which is usually conservative of course) and professional wrestling appeal to the same demographic. I don't know if the General Social Survey asked people if they watch (or participate in) professional wrestling, but it would be nice if you tried to find a correlation there.

  9. All right, here we go. I did the same thing you did (I think), first looking at both (white) sexes at once:
    (Gore, then bush, the nader):

    Ver good: 36.9, 63.1, 0.0
    Good: 32.3, 65.0, 1.8
    Fair: 34.9, 63.0, 2.0
    Not good: 40.0, 57.2, 2.5
    Not good at all: 44.7, 53.0, 1.5
    Yup, a monotonic trend except for the slight uptick in super-buff Goreites (who seem to have taken away from Nader's slice).

    Now for the men:
    VG: 36.5, 63.5, 0.0
    G: 27.7, 69.3, 1.5
    F 30.5, 66.5, 3.0
    NVG: 34.1, 62.6, 3.3
    NVGAA: 50.0, 46.7, 0.0

    Now this is the neat thing. Apart from the strange occurrence of the buff Goreites, there's a slight monotonic trend EXCEPT for the last category, where Gore suddenly wins the men. It's a small sample size though,so a couple of guys could have swung it.

    Women's more straight monotonic:
    VG 37.5 62.5 0.0
    G 39.5 58.1 2.3
    F 39.7 59.3 1.1
    NVG 43.0 54.4 2.1
    NVGAA 43.1 54.9 2.0

    So, you're right at all levels.


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