Monthly Archives: August 2013

More on immigration and border militarization from Professor Massey

I blogged on this two posts ago, but it’s worth re-emphasizing. And this time Dr. Massey got to broadcast the message on NPR!

That’s one of the great paradoxes of immigration today. The more porous you make the border and the easier you make it for people to come and go, the fewer people actually settle in the country of destination. So if you have a more flexible immigration policy and you admit that, well, Mexico, the United States are in fact integrating economically under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and allow for legitimate cross-border movements as a result of that integration, you’ll end up with fewer migrant populations actually settling in the United States and a smaller rate of undocumented. Or you would not even have undocumented migration, and you’d have a smaller rate of immigrant population growth.

Full NPR interview available here.

New research on politics and mate selection

Debates over contraception and the economy represent only a few of the many issues illustrating the widening gap between the ideological left and right in the United States. While there are a number of different explanations for this change in American politics, we suggest that human mate choice plays some role in this process. Spouses tend to share political preferences, and parents pass on their political preferences to their children.

This said, spouses do not influence each other’s political preferences over the course of the relationship (Alford et al. 2011), and politics is not a salient factor at the outset of the dating process (Klofstad et al. 2011). To address this mystery, using a survey of online dating profiles we examined the dating preferences of liberals and conservatives. With a few exceptions, we find that both liberals and conservatives prefer to date others who are like themselves. And, the non-political traits that those on the left and right assort on do have some role in political assortation. For example, liberals seek out dates with more education, and conservatives with less, and education has been found to correlate with tolerance (e.g., Bobo and Licari 1989). Consequently, it could be that the pervasive practice of assortation on non-political factors could be inadvertently leading to assortation on political preferences, which in turn leads to political polarization over time.

From a recently published article entitled “The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives” by Klofstad, et al. available here.

Increased border security leads to more undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

According to Massey, the rise of America’s large undocumented population is a direct result of the militarization of the border. While undocumented workers once traveled back and forth from Mexico with relative ease, after the border was garrisoned, immigrants from Mexico crossed the border and stayed.

“Migrants quite rationally responded to the increased costs and risks by minimizing the number of times they crossed the border,” Massey wrote in his 2007 paper “Understanding America’s Immigration ‘Crisis.'” “But they achieved this goal not by remaining in Mexico and abandoning their intention to migrate to the U.S., but by hunkering down and staying once they had run the gauntlet at the border and made it to their final destination.”

Full article here:

Is there a polarizing effect of education on social/political attitudes?

This last spring there was a research note published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by Joseph O. Baker. The author described the results of a quantitative analysis of factors related to whether or not individual Americans 1) agree with evolutionary accounts of human origins and 2) oppose the teaching of Creationism in public schools.

The conventional wisdom is that higher levels of education are associated with an increased likelihood to believe in evolution and oppose Creationism in public schools. This analysis, however, showed that the relationship is contingent on one’s level of Biblical literalism. While, in general, more education is associated with greater acceptance of evolution, those who agree that “the Bible means exactly what it says … literally, word-for-word, on all subjects” and have a college education are about 20% less likely than Biblical literalists with less than a high school education to indicate agreement with human evolution. There is a similar effect to supporting the teaching of Creationism in public schools.

This suggests that higher levels of education produce a “polarizing” effect in some circumstances. Those with higher levels of education sometimes tend to be more firm and extreme in their religious beliefs, regardless of whether those beliefs are literal or non-literal.

I thought this was interesting given that there is anecdotal evidence that the same effect seems to occur with political opinions in recent years. While higher levels of education tend to be associated with more liberal political preferences in many instances, education also sometimes serves to polarize those with ideological preferences. Highly-educated liberals and highly-educated conservatives tend to be further apart in their political preferences than less-educated liberals and conservatives.

Results published from 2011 Boyle County Exit Poll

To all my GOV 110 and GOV 336 Centre College students who helped design and field Boyle County exit polls on Election Day in 2011: some of the results from this project were finally published in an academic journal! I used the social desirability and immigration attitudes questions from the 2011 exit poll as part of the empirical analysis in an article that was published online today in Social Science Research. And I made sure to include a “shout out” to you all in the Acknowledgements section of the article.

Thank you to my students who have been participating in this project over the last two years. The Exit Poll project simply can’t run without you! In addition to providing valuable information to the community, these surveys gather valuable data that can eventually become part of the world of scholarly knowledge.

For those who participated in the Fall 2012 exit poll, I’ll be presenting a paper that discusses the results from this survey next spring and hopefully sometime in late 2014 or 2015 it will see the light of day in an academic article. (The peer review process is agonizingly slow sometimes!)

So thank you all again for your assistance with these exit polling projects. Slowly but surely, your efforts definitely pay off!

PPP poll shows Grimes and McConnell in a statistical tie.

“A New Poll Suggests Trouble for Mitch McConnell”

Democrats are excited about this new poll that shows Alison Grimes “leading” Mitch McConnell 45%-44%. The margin of error is 2.8%. This means that there’s a 95% chance that Grimes could be leading by as many as 7% or trailing by 5%.

It should also be noted that, according to Nate Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise, those who are “leading” by one point in the polls a year before the election have about a 52% chance of winning a Senate election (pg. 63). And that’s assuming a one point lead in the polling average. This PPP poll is an N of 1.

There’s also the simple fundamentals. Although Kentucky has more registered Democrats, Republicans are heavily favored in Senate elections. And it’s a midterm election in the term of an incumbent Democratic president. Historically, the president’s party almost always loses congressional seats in midterm elections, which bodes poorly for Democratic candidates next year.