Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Post Wherein I Try To Explain To Gordon Howie That Reading Skills Matter

Mr. Howie is alarmed that South Dakota is not one the ten most conservative states according to a recent Gallup poll:
This once conservative state simply seems to have disappeared. Even the respected Gallop organization reports that South Dakota is missing!!
In a study of top ten conservative states done by Gallop, South Dakota is simply NOT THERE. Some of our neighbors made the list. Wyoming, North Dakota and Nebraska made the top ten, but for conservatives in South Dakota… some sad news… You didn’t make it to the playoffs!
Conservatives in South Dakota are probably not surprised by this sad news. We have seen the expulsion and dismissal of conservatives escalating for the past few years.
Howie than goes on to castigate South Dakota's leaders for not being conservative enough:
Most South Dakota Republicans are still good, conservative folks. They just don’t seem to be watching while their leaders and elected officials take them farther and farther down the path of more government, more regulation and higher taxes. 
The Gallup poll that Howie refers to did not examine states' regulatory or tax policies; instead, it was based on residents' self identification:
Alabama, North Dakota, and Wyoming were the most conservative states in the union in 2012, with between 49% and 50% of residents in each identifying their ideology as conservative. Residents of the District of Columbia were by far the most likely to identify as liberal (41%), followed by Massachusetts (31%), Oregon, and Vermont (each at 29% liberal).[emphasis mine]
In short, South Dakota did not make the top 10 most conservative states because a smaller percentage of South Dakotans than North Dakotans say they are conservative. When it comes to policies North Dakota has a state owned bank; one can't get much more collectivist than that.

South Dakota didn't rank as one of the most moderate states:
Nor did it make the list of liberal states:
Had Howie bothered to go to page two of the Gallup report, he would have found that 41.6% of South Dakotans self-identify as conservative; 35.8% self-identify as moderate, and 19.9% self-identify as liberal.

Howie concludes:
While Gallup didn’t just survey Republicans, this alarming decline to the left has happened as moderates have taken control of the Republican Party.
It seems Howie doesn't have a problem with moderates or liberals; he has a problem with the idea of representative democracy. The poll indicates that moderates and liberals outnumber conservatives 58.4% to 41.6%. If South Dakota has become more moderate, a fact that Howie asserts but does not document, shouldn't the policies become more moderate as well?

I think Gallup's numbers for moderates are at least 5% too high, but that's the risk of relying on self-identification. What the poll doesn't show is South Dakota lurching to the left.
Update: Madville has a take here. I don't know who hit publish first. Cory probably did. I'm a lousy typist.

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