Time Will Tell

23 Nov

Part of empirical social science is about finding fundamental truths about people. It is a difficult enterprise partly because scientists only observe data in a particular context. Neither cross-sectional variation nor data that goes back at best by tens of years is often enough to come up with generalizable truths. Longer observation windows help clarify what is an essential truth and what is, at best, a contextual truth. 

Support For Racially Justified and Targeted Affirmative Action

Sniderman and Carmines (1999) find that a large majority of Democrats and Republicans oppose racially justified and targeted affirmative action policies. They find that opposition to racially targeted affirmative action is not rooted in prejudice. Instead, they conjecture that it is rooted in adherence to the principle of equality. The authors don’t say it outright but the reader can surmise that in their view, opposition to racially justified and targeted affirmative action is likely to be continued and broad-based. It is a fair hypothesis. Except 20 years later, a majority of Democrats support racially targeted and racially justified affirmative action in education and hiring (see here).

What’s the Matter with “What’s the Matter with What’s the Matter with Kansas”?

It isn’t clear Bartels was right about Kansas even in 2004 (see here) (and that isn’t to say Thomas Frank was right) but the thesis around education has taken a nosedive. See below.

Split Ticket Voting For Moderation

On the back of record split ticket voting, Fiorina (and others) theorized “divided government is the result of a conscious attempt by the voters to achieve moderate policy.” Except very quickly split ticket voting declined (with of course no commensurate radicalization of the population) (see here).

Effect of Daughters on Legislator Ideology

Having daughters was thought to lead politicians to vote more liberally (see here) but more data suggested that this stopped in the polarized era (see here). Yet more data suggested that there was no trend for legislators with daughters to vote liberally before the era covered by the first study (see here).