I wish to continue my reviews of this excellent work. I hope my previous review has shown how very valuable and interesting this work is. Here I want to focus on a few issues where I think their conclusions need nuancing-and more than they give it as well as one objection raised I think is invalid.
It strikes me a lot of their comparisons/ the implications of their comparisons are diluted by the importance of the African American Vote in the
And indeed if you look at white voters the big differences on income are for those earning in the bottom 8% of Americans and the top 3%. This makes a lot of sense since the differences between the two parties on income policies (whether the Earned Income Tax credit or high rate income tax) are concentrated at that level. This is discussed by Byron Caplan in this blog post..
I'm quite certain that lies behind
On international compressions it strikes me there is insufficient attention to the role of "dead" cleavages-and this they don’t really address. That is if a factor (such as religion) or class had a large effect on a generation's parents voting it is likely to correlate with their own voting-because both class, religious affiliation . A fictional example (that is perhaps not that far from some countries actual electoral history) should help.
Say Country X has a rightwing and a leftwing party 80% of churchgoers vote for the right and 80% for the left (let's say for the sake of argument it's a new democracy) .Let's say in the Next generation churchgoing stops having any direct effect on voting patterns. However Say churchgoers/ non churchgoers) are 80% likely to have churchgoing /non-churchgoing children-and right-wingers are 80% likely to have rightwing children. A huge correlation will remain between churchgoing and voting for the right even if it has no independent effect (over 60%).
A classic case of this happening was in post war
It may be the weakness of the churchgoing cleavage in America relative to western Europe is very heavily this effect- the lack of pious/ secular religious cleavages in America in the 1950's and the strength of it in so many western European countries.
I also feel I should defend them from some criticism Gelman that they themselves seem weak in answering”How could it be when here religion is out of the political campaigns and discourse and there is no question whatsoever about the faith of candidates?” For a start the latter claim strikes me as dubious and exaggerated (note how every major French rightwing candidate in the last twenty years has been a practising catholic with no leftwing one being so). . In any cases in America talk of faith by candidates tends to be highly generic –at most generically Christian often frankly generically theistic (in a way that could included theists)-crucially it tends to bi-partisan there is not an obvious difference in the way different parties national candidates talk about Faith. (And its difference rather than level of piety that explains how much people vote on religious lines-I imagine people’s religious views had little impact on their voting in the fifteenth century
. AT the same time the differences between left or right or religiously issues can often be sharper. So for example in Italy (whose overwhelmingly catholic nature means such issues are likely to be more a proxy for religiosity than in the united States the right when last in power restricted IVF and embryo research earlier this decade, the left government then sought to bring in "civil unions" (failing partly due to internal divisions) and the right has now sought more restrictive and tight “euthanasia laws” Even in the United Kingdom there weree huge party parliamentary differences for example on the abortion laws shown in very recent votes. it’s no wonder in such circumstances there’s a correlation between churchgoing and voting. It’s not just a legacy of the past.