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Presidential Election and IQ

The graph below plots the percentage vote (by state) received by each candidate in the 2008 presidential election as a function of the IQ of the voters in those states. For example, the average IQ in New Hampshire is 104 with 54% of New Hampshire voters casting their ballot for Obama (blue point) and 45% voting for McCain (red point). The graph shows the results for all 50 states.

IQ and 2008 Vote

The solid lines are fits to the data, and have an r-squared of 0.66 (a perfect fits gives an r-squared of 1.0).

The average IQ for each state is estimated from the the SAT and ACT college entrance exams, and the data is adjusted for the fraction of students who attend college in each state. Details can be found on the Social Quotient web site. The election results by state can be found on the CNN web site.

I am not commenting on the meaning of these results. Let the debates begin!

Comment from Van Sloan:

Mark, your graph appears to be accurate and similar to state IQ/ vote results in the 2004 election.  Others commenting on that earlier result pointed out that the racial makeup of US states vary, likely causing much of the state IQ differences.  One particularly thoughtful analysis came from a Chicago MBA student, shown at http://www.sq.4mg.com/RaceVoting.htm
My interpretation of state IQ/ vote results is that people tend to vote for their self interests.  Voters with below average incomes and IQ's (including most minorities) typically favor Democrats who propose increased spending for social services, funded by additional taxes on the wealthy.  Republican candidates generally opposes higher taxes.  
In the early 1960s, Bill Buckley famously observed that he would rather be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.  I agree.  High IQ is associated with higher incomes, but it does not necessarily mean smart political leadership. 


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Interesting Quotes

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool.” -- Richard Feynman
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful ."- Seneca (4BCE- 65 CE)
“How do we know that our holy books are free from error? Because the books themselves say so. Epistemological black holes of this sort are fast draining the light from our world..."- Sam Harris
"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of an evil treatment from a ruler they consider god fearing and pious. On the other hand they less easily move against him believing that he has the gods on his side" - Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” - Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933
"Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God " - Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)
"...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it true.” - Bertrand Russell
“Without religion you have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.” - Steven Weinberg



How do we know...

  1. there's a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy?

  2. the universe formed in a big bang?

  3. evolution really happened and its going on today?