Monday, June 02, 2008

The South is the most pro-military region of the country, right? Wrong. The General Social Survey asked 1,453 people the following question: "There are different opinions as to what it takes to be a good citizen. As far as you are concerned personally on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is not at all important and 7 is very important, how important is it to be willing to serve in the military at a time of need?" I calculated the means for each of the nine regions of the country, and listed them below:

Mean pro-military score

Mountain 5.96
East South Central 5.80
South Atlantic 5.50
West South Central 5.48
West North Central 5.48

USA 5.45

East North Central 5.43
Pacific 5.27
Middle Atlantic 5.21
New England 5.15

Yep, it's the Mountain states--a part of the country I really like, and not just for the mountains.

Now, maybe you're smart and are thinking, "Well yeah, the South has a lot of blacks who, as a group, are not so pro-military." Nice try, Pointdexter--here's the list with blacks omitted:

Mean pro-military score--whites

Mountain 5.95
West South Central 5.92
East South Central 5.86
South Atlantic 5.79

All whites 5.62

East North Central 5.53
West North Central 5.50
Middle Atlantic 5.42
Pacific 5.36
New England 5.12

Removing blacks did increase the overall mean, and it moved regions up that have substantial numbers of blacks, but folks in the Intermountain West are still more pro-military than white Southerners.

As a side note, the regional pattern suggests that political orientation has a lot to do with attitude toward serving. Of those who said it is very important to serve in a time of need, 65% voted for Bush in 2000, and only 34% went for Gore. By contrast, if the answer was not important at all, 80% voted for Gore and 20% went for Bush.

These numbers support the contention that, compared to conservatives, liberals are allergic to military service.


  1. Maybe because Southern whites remember when the US military stomped 'em. Though given how well blacks have done in the armed forces, I would think that they would be more supportive.

  2. rob: Yeah, I looked at all ethnic groups, and blacks were the least pro-military.

  3. Ron, is low black support recent, possibly caused by the Iraq War, or has it been fairly consistent over time?

  4. Ah, New England, how did you get so liberal? I guess Bostonians confuse the army with the Yankees or something.


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