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August 11, 2009


Yeah, but what about W.Va. or Kentucky (pretty low black population) vs. say New York state?

I think you're ignoring the elephant in the room. The difference between Utah and Louisiana isn't that Utah is homogeneous. It's that Louisiana and the other Southern States (aka the former Confederacy) have a history of racial conflict.

We saw the exact same trends in the election. If you had taken a road trip from Alabama north to Maine you would have found yourself traveling in states in which whites were progressively more supportive of Obama regardless of the diversity or prosperity of the population.


It has nothing to do with the percentage of blacks in each state.

This possible relationship would be unimportant, unless it's asserted that there's some sort of cause-and-effect relationship. Otherwise it's just an irrelevant coincidence.

I think it will be impossible to prove causality, because other factors may also correlate well with percentage of black population and with percentage of birthers, such as average income and some measure of education.

IMHO a more important variable might be the nature of conservatism in the state. Conservatism has various strains. One type of Republican might be more apt to be a birther than some other type. Unfortunately, this theory would be hard to convert into figures that could be analyzed statistically.

BTW I am not impressed with the very high value of R square. That's likely a coincidence. That is, even if there were a cause and effect relationship, one wouldn't expect so perfect a linear fit.

I think the chart would be improved if the DT variable were added in. (For those not familiar with the DT variable, that measures someone's ability to believe two contradictory ideas at the same time. For just one example, believing that HI's gov can't verify he was born there because it would be illegal at the same time as believing that she verified he was born there. Or, believing that HI has authenticated the picture on BHO's site at the same time as believing that they haven't. It's an art!)

I'm going to use Occam's Razor here and point out that Utah is one of the best-educated states in the US. Until I see that there are more birthers in racially diverse Maryland than in almost-all-white Kentucky, my hunch is that educational attainment is the strongest demographic factor in play here.

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