The life cycle of political beliefs

Folks on a web site called OK.trends produced some interesting graphs on how political beliefs change over time.  The data comes from 172,853 people who answered questionnaires on a dating site called OK.cupid.  Maybe they’re not a representative cross-section of the population.  Take it for what you think it is worth.

They then took the data and applied it to Democratic and Republican party affiliation.  The results appeared to be good for the Democrats, but the OK.trends folks say that closer analysis gives the advantage to the Republicans.

They plotted the data on a matrix, as shown below.  The upper right quadrant is occupied by Democrats, who supposedly are economically restrictive and socially permissive, and the lower left quadrant by Republicans, who supposedly are economically permissive and socially restrictive.  The upper left is libertarians, who are economically and socially permissive, and the lower right is authoritarians, who were economically and socially restrictive.

Another thing they asked was which was most important, your economic principles or your social principles.  Below is the result.

Combining the two graphs, here are the implications for the two political parties – Democrats are in blue and Republicans in red.

This seems like good news for the Democrats – that their ideas find favor with more age groups than the Republicans.  But the Ok.trends writers thought differently.  Their further analysis indicated the Republicans are more united and hence more effective than the Democrats, whose supporters are more conflicted in their social and economic views and hence more likely to oppose parts of their party’s program.

What I take from data is that the Democrats need to bear down more on economic issues as against social issues.

Click on The Democrats Are Doomed, or How a ‘Big Tent’ Can Be Too Big for the complete post on the OK.trends web log.  This was written before the 2010 elections, and seems to have been confirmed by the results.

My own political beliefs evolved differently from the trend in the graphs, and, as I recall, reflect the events of the time rather than my own life cycle.  In 20s, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, I was a New Deal Democrat, like my parents.  I flirted with libertarianism in my late 40s and early 50s, during th 1980s.  But now, in my 70s, as a reaction to the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, I am much more in favor of both social permissiveness and economic restrictiveness, much more of a Democrat in that sense, than I was in my 20s.

There is an axis of political belief that the chart doesn’t catch, which is whether you root for the upper dog or the underdog.  My beliefs about where to be restrictive and where to be permissive are related to my sympathy for the underdog.  I can imagine somebody in exactly the same position as I am regarding permissiveness and restrictiveness, and yet, as far as I’m concerned, standing for the exact opposie of what I do.  Means are important, but so are ends.   Whether you’re permissive or restrictive is important, but so is who you side with.

I made changes and additions in the 24 hours since I put up the original post.

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