Interesting Data

I’ve occasionally posted some thoughts on the ways in which people’s political beliefs are influenced by their professions, and we’ve also discussed this topic in Chicago Boyz discussion threads. Here is an interesting analysis of political contributions by various industries and interest groups.

Link via a commenter at this post (7/30, 10:45 am), who somehow derived from this data the conclusion that “Brain industries go with Dems. Muscle industries go with Repubs.”

13 thoughts on “Interesting Data”

  1. “Brain industries go with Dems. Muscle industries go with Repubs.”

    I think there s some truth to this. People who make things or who run their own business, such as retail stores, tend to vote Republican. Unions would not normally be described as “brain industries” but teachers could list themselves this way, I suppose. I think a better division might be people who work for a salary vs those who sign their own paycheck, not matter how small.

  2. “Making things” does not mean that brainpower is not key to an industry…the design and operation of a petrochemical plant, for example, surely involves more brainpower than the typical civil-service or banking job.

    Regarding retail stores, etc….it’s interesting that a very significant % of consumer-oriented small businesses….stores, restaurants, “alternative” newspapers, craft makers…are started & run by people who are of basically the hippie persuasion. I wonder if their business experience will have any influence on their political opinions?

  3. David – one would think that it should. After all, they have to advertise to most likely customer, present their product or service in the best possible light, deliver on that promise and then handle customer service – or they’ll not survive. And on top of that they pay taxes, more taxes and still more taxes.

    And yet (such a short word, too short to express my disbelief and shock): they not only vote Dem, they support the economic meddling the government is involved in. In the winter I was designing a new office/showroom for a big flooring rep/installer company. The business ins growing, they have branches in several cities nationwide. The owner/client was very happy with my work, after I delivered the final drawing set he invited me to lunch. And during that lunch, discussing economic situation he almost got me choking on food. He said:”yes, the economy is in the tank. But I am a socialist and I believe the reason for it being that people are generally greedy”
    Mind you, he wasn’t overly generous with my pay and I had to remind him couple times that the check is due; his employees are not rolling in his profits either. But somehow he sees no problem with institutionalized theft from government and blames everything on other businesses!

    Similar story was with my ophthalmologist. Half of his business comes from LASIK and similar operations that insurance doesn’t cover; he has a brand new office, quite a good income, competitive business. And he told me he voted Obama and plans to do the same again!

    The world is upside down.

  4. People in brain industries tend to seek out rent-seeking opportunities. It’s much easier to get money from one government providing subsidies or grants than to get money from hundreds or thousands of customers.

  5. Tatyana, interesting story. It reinforces my suspicion that Socialism is nothing more than feudalism and the Divine Right of Kings updated to modern terminology.


  6. Much political opinion is based on social affiliation, actual or aspirational. An individual who has not thought deeply about politics, but who is very concerned with his own status, will support Obama if he thinks that’s what the Kool Kidz are doing.

  7. During the 2004 presidential campaign, I was amused to see that (1) an organization of brain surgeons backed Bush, and (2) the porn industry backed Kerry — very heavily.

    David Brooks, during the same campaign, had someone do an analysis for him. Judging by campaign contributions, people who made their living with numbers backed Bush, people who made their living with words, backed Kerry.

  8. Doctors will not remain conservative for long. Most medical students I have met are leftish and plan to work for a salary. They are convinced that single payer is the best system and all large medical groups around the country are either insolvent (California) or are being bought by hospitals to provide an HMO-like structure.

    One of the most destructive themes of the Bush era was the encouragement by Republicans of for-profit HMOs. These entities quickly realized that the Kaiser model yielded low profits, if any. The other staff model HMO (Employing doctors)in California, called Family Health Plan or FHP, was bought by one of the for-profots and quickly dismantled. The doctors were let go and only the name remained two years later.

    Their business model was to sell health plans to businesses, then market to doctors below cost reimbursement contracts. They then pocketed the difference, never having provided so much as an aspirin tablet to the subscribers. Doctors banded together in Independent Practice Associations, or IPAs, to negotiate contracts. They were hampered in this by the Supreme Court Maricopa County decision of the 1980s which banned doctors and doctor groups from negotiating fees with insurers. As a result, a few doctors, often less successful in medicine than their peers, gave up their practices and became businessmen. They then proceeded to screw their colleagues. In the process, doctors have become less enthusiastic about private practice.

    Of course, if you read Megan McArdle’s blog, when she poses a medical issue the comments are about 2/3 from people who have no hint of this history.

  9. I note that lawyers alone gave more money to Democrats than the top 5 business contributes combined gave to the Republicans. When lawyers give nearly 6 times what the oil and gas industry does, you know we have problems.

    By my count 9 of the top 20 Democratic donators are not any kind of industry or business or even related to any kind of business but just issue groups. Four of the remaining are unions. Of the remaining 7, none but the medical workers and the telecoms could be classified as vital industries. The rest produce entertainment, a luxury.

    By contrast, for the Republicans only 2 of the top twenty are not any kind of business and only 1, tobacco could be considered a luxury. The other 17 are all vital industries and businesses upon which depends not only the prosperous lifestyles our civilization but our very lives.

    And brainwork versus brawn? Bullshit. Last time I looked, running a mine, a deep sea oil rig or a chemical plant took a lot more brain power than acting in a movie. Republican donators build the world. They create technologies and organization disciplined by nature itself. The things they create have to work.

    Democrat donators by contrast do nothing but manipulate people’s emotions. They are nothing but those skilled in marketing and selling themselves. Nothing they do or say has to be real. They can live forever in a world of self-delusion and by capturing the force of the state compell the rest of us to go along.

  10. Michael Kennedy ,

    Doctors have historically always been prone to elitism and have gravitated to elitist and authoritarian political ideologies.

    They are not alone in this lawyers, engineers etc also drift that way. People in fields requiring a lot of brainpower fall easily prey to the idea that mastery in one narrow domain makes them globally superior decision makers in all domains. From there, it is an easy step to an elitist political philosophy.

  11. Shannon, until very recently, doctors have been small businessmen (and women) and that has driven a lot of their behavior politically. The most leftist influences are actually the medical associations. I was a delegate to the AMA and chair of the Orange County delegation to CMA for years. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent sitting through debates on Save-the-whale initiatives. One year, there was a national debate about a case involving a friend of mine. It went to the Supreme Court.

    A doctor friend got divorced and his ex-wife, a lawyer, sued him for 1/2 interest in his medical degree. She wanted a share of his professional income because she had worked when he was a medical student. It made no difference that she had gone to law school while he supported her. Anyway, this case Sullivan vs Sullivan, came up in the CMA convention when some women delegates, all students and residents, brought a motion for the CMA to support the wife. I got up in the discussion and asked them if it had ever occurred to any of them that they could be sued by an ex-husband ?

    It hadn’t and they got kind of quiet.

    Anyway, there are fewer and fewer small business medical practices. As far as elitism is concerned, that is true but probably is true of most highly educated people. My father owned a tavern at 72nd and Exchange Avenue in South Shore. His GP used to come into the tavern for lunch. The fact that they were such pals was a handicap in getting his doctor to finally convince him, too late, to stop smoking.

  12. “Brain industries go with Dems. Muscle industries go with Repubs.”

    People who vote for a living go with the Dems.
    People who work for a living go with the Reps.

    would be a better way of putting it. HT: H. L. Mencken

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