From School Library Journal
As the 2008 election season reaches its peak, media pundits will speak gravely of the deep ideological divisions reflected in a political map of red and blue states, but according to Gelman (statistics & political science, Columbia Univ.), much of the analysts' glib assessments is misguided and does little to advance our understanding of why Americans have voted as they have. He crunched U.S. survey and election data as far back as 1952; compared his data where appropriate to similar data from Mexico, Canada, and other countries; and discovered that the economic status of individuals and the economic conditions of each state as a whole lead to two different conclusions: on the one hand, the less wealthy a voter is, the more likely the voter is to cast a ballot for a Democrat; the better-off the voter, the more likely he or she is to vote Republican. Yet states with a higher average income are more likely to support a Democratic presidential candidate. He discovered that wealthy voters in a poor state (e.g., Mississippi, with many poor) consistently support Republicans, while Connecticut, with many wealthy, regularly backs Democrats. Ohio is near the center of income distribution and alternates between the parties. This seeming paradox is lost on the media's talking heads because they focus only on the state-level data, leading them to the simplistic red-blue paradigm, ignoring the importance of individual voters' decisions. Gelman finds that the above relationships hold on a county level as well. After examining other factors such as religiosity and cultural values for clues to explain voting behavior, he offers suggestions about how the Democratic Party can improve its chances in the 2008 election. This is a fascinating, well-written, and thoroughly researched work that deserves a wide audience. Highly recommended for all libraries.—Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., PA
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"Gelman and a group of fellow political scientists crunch numbers and draw graphs, arriving at a picture that refutes the [idea] . . . of poor red-staters voting Republican against their economic interests. Instead, Gelman persuasively argues, the poor in both red states and blue still mostly vote Democratic, and the rich, nationally speaking, overwhelmingly vote Republican."--Leo Carey, New Yorker
"Commentators on both the left and the right have theorized about why working-class Kansas farmers and latte-sipping Maryland suburbanites vote against their economic interests. . . . The real paradox, [Gelman] says, is that while rich states lean Democratic, rich people generally vote Republican; while poor states lean Republican, poor people generally vote Democratic."--Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Book World
"This is the Freakonomics
-style analysis that every candidate and campaign consultant should read."--Robert Sommer, New York Observer
"Gelman works his way, state by state, to help us better understand the relationship of class, culture, and voting. The book is a terrific read and offers much insight into the changing electoral landscape."--Sudhir Venkatesh, Freakonomics blog
"[T]his book already analyzes far more data than do most. On that note, it is worth lauding another of this book's strengths: its rich graphical presentation of evidence. Its numerous figures often allow the reader to see the data and to draw one's own inferences, and they render the book accessible to those with little statistical training."--Gabriel S. Lenz, Public Opinion Quarterly
"Although the book is stronger on description than interpretation, it raises important questions and presents its findings in a clear and readable fashion that encourages replication, critique, and elaboration. . . . Red State, Blue State
shows that much can be learned from applying serious quantitative analysis to popular ideas. It debunks popular misconceptions, but also reveals the limitations of most academic analyses."--David L. Weakliem, International Review of Modern Sociology