Thursday, April 24, 2014

Young Adult Voting

A release from the Census:
Voting rates among young adults fell to 38.0 percent in 2012 from 44.3 percent in 2008 following increases in two consecutive presidential elections (2008 and 2004), according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report on age and voting patterns released today.
These statistics come from Young Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964-2012, which uses data collected by the Current Population Survey. The report provides a detailed 50-year historical portrait of voters with a specific focus on young adults.
In every U.S. presidential election from 1964 on, 18- to 24-year-olds voted at lower rates than all other age groups. In contrast, Americans 65 and older have voted at higher rates than all other age groups since the 1996 election.
"The young-adult voting gap closed somewhat from 2000 to 2008 but opened up a bit again in 2012," said Thom File, a sociologist in the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division. "Age-based voting patterns are not set in stone. For example as recently as 1992, the nation's oldest voters did not vote at a level higher than all other age groups."
State Level Voting
Voting rates have also varied according to age and gender. Women tend to vote at higher rates than men across most age groups. In every election since 1996, women age 18 through 29 voted at higher rates than men of the same age, with a difference of about 8.0 percentage points in 2008. For older Americans, a gender voting gap has operated in reverse, with men 65 and older voting at higher rates than women of that age in every election since 1996. At about 6.5 percentage points, this differential was larger in 1996 than in the two most recent elections, with older men voting at a higher rate than older women by about 3.7 percentage points, an 
In addition to the report, the Census Bureau released an interactive Voting Report that provides comparisons of voting and registration patterns by demographic, social and geographic characteristics for the U.S. and states.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Minorities and Affirmative Action

As a couple of commentators at the Volokh Conspiracy have noted, yesterday’s Schuette v. BAMN decision rambles across five opinions and more than 100 pages, yet mentions the word “Asian” not once.

The word “minority” appears more than 100 times throughout the decision, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a passionate, 58-page dissent highlighting the continuing difficulty of certain minority groups to get into the nation’s most prestigious colleges and graduate schools. But not Asian Americans. As minorities go, they apparently don’t count, at least when it comes to discrimination in higher education.
Asian Americans generally come out on the losing side of affirmative action, however, so Michigan’s ban might have served their interests. As George Mason University School of Law Professor David Bernstein put it in this post, ”had the dissent been the majority, the Supreme Court would have restructured Michigan’s political process to the disadvantage of Asian Americans.” If voters were unable to enact a ban on racial preferences, in other words, Asian Americans would lose the right to join with other groups to pass such a measure — exactly why Sotomayor said Michigan’s Prop. 2 was unconstitutional in her dissent.
One might also add that the residual category of "white" encompasses a number of groups -- notably Catholics and Jews -- who have historically been the target of religious or ethnic discrimination.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Family Structure and Inequality

At The Wall Street Journal, Robert Maranto and Michael Crouch write:
Suppose a scientific conference on cancer prevention never addressed smoking, on the grounds that in a free society you can't change private behavior, and anyway, maybe the statistical relationships between smoking and cancer are really caused by some other third variable. Wouldn't some suspect that the scientists who raised these claims were driven by something—ideology, tobacco money—other than science?

Yet in the current discussions about increased inequality, few researchers, fewer reporters, and no one in the executive branch of government directly addresses what seems to be the strongest statistical correlate of inequality in the United States: the rise of single-parent families during the past half century.
More than 20% of children in single-parent families live in poverty long-term, compared with 2% of those raised in two-parent families, according to education-policy analyst Mitch Pearlstein's 2011 book "From Family Collapse to America's Decline." The poverty rate would be 25% lower if today's family structure resembled that of 1970, according to the 2009 report "Creating an Opportunity Society" from Brookings Institution analysts Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill. A 2006 article in the journal Demography by Penn State sociologist Molly Martin estimates that 41% of the economic inequality created between 1976-2000 was the result of changed family structure.
The authors identify three reasons why family structure is getting less attention than it should. First, some analysts do not want to give the appearance of taking the side of social conservatives.  Second, there is concern about the racial correlates of data on family structure.  Third, the problem does not lend itself to a quick fix.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Expatriation Act

At The Los Angeles Times, Richard Simon reports:
Daniel Swalm was researching his family when he came across a disturbing episode in immigration history. That discovery would lead to a move in the U.S. Senate to apologize for action the nation took more than a century ago.
Swalm discovered that under an obscure 1907 law, his grandmother Elsie, born and raised in Minnesota, was stripped of her U.S. citizenship after marrying an immigrant from Sweden.
Swalm had never heard of the Expatriation Act that required a U.S.-born woman who married a foreigner to "take the nationality of her husband."
The law, passed at a time of heightened anxiety over the growing numbers of "new immigrants" from eastern and southern Europe, came in response to a belief that U.S.-born women marrying foreigners were forsaking their allegiance to the United States, [UNC historian Candice] Bredbenner said.
"A citizen woman's marriage to a foreigner became vulnerable to interpretation as a brazenly un-American act," Bredbenner wrote in her book, "A Nationality of Her Own: Women, Citizenship and the Politics of Marriage."
At the time, magazines wrote about American women marrying European nobility in pursuit of titles. "For some Americans, a titled American was an affront to American ideals," Bredbenner wrote. But thousands who lost their citizenship were average women who lived in immigrant communities, she added in an interview.
After women pushed to win the right to vote — secured when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920 — Congress in 1922 acted to allow most, but not all, American-born women who married foreigners to be U.S. citizens. But those who married men ineligible for citizenship, such as Chinese immigrants, still forfeited their U.S. citizenship, until that restriction was later repealed.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The President's Easter Message

In 2005, blogger Stephen Weissman objected to President Bush's discussion of the Resurrection in a weekly radio address:
Many - though by no means anywhere near a majority - who believe in these words will find it wonderful that the President has repeated them in the exercise of his public office. Mr. Bush and his political advisors know this, and clearly used the opportunity of his weekly radio address to further cement the bond between the President and those who want to turn America into "a Christian nation."
Nor does the president or his flock necessarly [sic] mean to hurt or exclude those of us who follow other paths - or no religious path at all. He is only bringing us the Word, and what could be a greater gift?
Well, thanks, but no thanks. The dangers are far too real. By so publicly rejecting the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state - and throwing off the good manners of millions of Americans who exercise their freedom of belief in private - Mr. Bush threatens to lead America down the road to open religious conflict. We've seen where that leads from South Asia to the Middle East, and in the bloody history of Europe's religious wars. Is that what we want for America? Is that what we want for the world?
Today President Obama offered his own Easter message:
And this Sunday, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and I will join our fellow Christians around the world in celebrating the Resurrection of Christ, the salvation he offered the world, and the hope that comes with the Easter season.

These holy days have their roots in miracles that took place long ago. And yet, they still inspire us, guide us, and strengthen us today. They remind us of our responsibilities to God and, as God’s children, our responsibilities to one another.

For me, and for countless other Christians, Holy Week and Easter are times for reflection and renewal. We remember the grace of an awesome God, who loves us so deeply that He gave us his only Son, so that we might live through Him. We recall all that Jesus endured for us – the scorn of the crowds, the agony of the cross – all so that we might be forgiven our sins and granted everlasting life. And we recommit ourselves to following His example, to love and serve one another, particularly “the least of these” among us, just as He loves every one of us.
Note that the official White House transcript follows Christian practice in capitalizing several pronouns and possessive adjectives referring to Jesus.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lincoln on the Declaration and the Constitution

Here is a followup to a recent post on the connection between the Declaration and the Constitution.  In January, 1861, Abraham Lincoln wrote: 
All this is not the result of accident. It has a philosophical cause. Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these, are not the primary cause of our great prosperity. There is something back of these, entwining itself more closely about the human heart. That something, is the principle of “Liberty to all” — the principle that clears the path for all — gives hope to all — and, by consequence, enterprize, and industry to all.
The expression of that principle, in our Declaration of Independence, was most happy, and fortunate. Without this, as well as with it, we could have declared our independenceof Great Britain; but without it, we could not, I think, have secured our free government, and consequent prosperity. No oppressed, people will fight, and endure, as our fathers did, without the promise of something better, than a mere change of masters.
The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word, “fitly spoken” which has proved an “apple of gold” to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture.
So let us act, that neither picture, or apple shall ever be blurred, or bruised or broken.
That we may so act, we must study, and understand the points of danger.
Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, volume 4 (Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ, 1953), 168-169.

News Polls in Decline

As we note in our textbook, this trend complicates life for pollsters.

TOP TALKER – “As polls vanish, so do clues about 2014,” by Steven Shepard, editor of POLITICO’s new Campaign Pro: “The last reliable nonpartisan poll on the [Arkansas Senate] race was conducted in October … Good polling is becoming increasingly scarce, walloped by shrinking newsroom budgets and the soaring costs of conducting surveys. … FiveThirtyEight … launched with a clarion call: ‘Somebody Poll a Senate Race.’ … Over a 15-year period, the completion rate for Pew’s pollsters … fell from 36 percent in 1997 to just 9 percent in 2012.
The main reason is the migration to cellphones. It’s more expensive and time-consuming to call cellphones because they cannot be dialed by a computer, per FCC regulations. … Cash-strapped news outlets are increasingly turning to less-expensive survey methods — like automated-phone and Internet polling … And campaigns and partisan groups are more than happy to fill the void and constant news cycle with numbers that are often more favorable toward their candidate.” Free to Pros