Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Spanking and the 2008 election


In states with lower percentages of people that endorse spanking and washing kids' mouths out with soap, which is the case in New England and much of the Middle Atlantic, Obama did very well. In states with higher percentages, like Wyoming, Idaho, and Alabama, McCain won big. Even the states that fall somewhat far from the trend line are usually easy to explain. For example, Hawaii, Illinois, and Alaska are all favorite son or daughter states. Several states that are below the line, like Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio, are states that have usually voted Republican in the past.

More here.The most interesting part of the study is that this is apparently a new divide in American politics.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 11, 2009; 7:20 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tab dump
Next: The behavioral economics of taste


This is interesting but not new. See my post at for discussion of research showing a relationship between political orientation and personality. Kids who at age 3 are easily offended, distrustful of others, indecisive,compliant, and unable to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty are conservatives in their 20s. Those who are resourceful, self-reliant, curious, talkative, open, and self-assertive turned into liberals.

Posted by: CDRealist | December 11, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Nicely framed, Ezra. Those people are the worst!

Posted by: jhglassman | December 11, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Your joke about the former Republican legislator from Missouri goes here.

Posted by: hackett1 | December 11, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

My understanding is that punishment for bad behavior doesn't work. Praise and rewards for good behavior do work. There's a great passage about this in The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives.

Basically, people have some difficulty understanding this because following outstanding results whether they be very good or very poor, there is a return to the mean value or average performance. Therefore, we can actually expect people to do worse after receiving praise for great performance, and we can expect people to do better after being punished for poor performance.

This is despite the fact that long-term improvement in performance responds well to rewards and not very well to punishment. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the red states haven't caught on yet.

Posted by: bcbulger | December 11, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I think you've found another proxy for the authoritarian-vs- mindset: strict father vs caring mother, etc. It really is a culture war. Good news: demographics are on our side.

Posted by: SamPenrose | December 11, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

We know all those cities with the highest crime rates voted for Obama. St Louis, Camden NJ, Chicago, Philly. Awful people.

Posted by: dencal26 | December 12, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Spanking works. There are dozens of articles written by experts on the topic on the web. Perhaps this explains the high rate of juvenile deliquency in Dem states?

Posted by: dencal26 | December 12, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

A friend taught 8th grade at a public school in Mississippi. She told me that the school administration basically mandated that teachers send students to the office to be paddled. Incredible, but true. Needless to say, she booked it out of there as fast as she could.

And then they wonder why they have a problem with truancy, low graduation rates, terrible test scores, and a panoply of social problems.

Posted by: jeffwacker | December 12, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the reverse trend is true in states where people spank their spouses.

Posted by: Diacritic | December 12, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company