r- versus K-selection in politics.

Via a guest-blogger posting on Bitch.Ph.D, we get an link to Affordable Family Formation–The Neglected Key To GOP’s Future

The key reason why some states vote Republican, I’ve found, can be summed up in the three-word phrase:

Affordable Family Formation.

In parts of the country where it is economical to buy a house with a yard in a neighborhood with a decent public school, you’ll generally find more Republicans.

You’ll find less in regions where it’s expensive.

It’s a stereotype that a mortgage, marriage, and babies tend to make people more conservative.

But it’s a true stereotype.

Emphases his; links removed. Goes on to show a set of demographics which correlate reasonably strongly between Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning states… cost of living, “years married”(*) , and total fertility rate (**). All of these could be a sign that he’s right that “a mortgage, marriage, and babies tend to make people more conservative.”

But personally, I think this is a case of confusing correlation with causation — and that, especially in combination, the lifestyle choices these imply are often the result of a conservative social world view. To stretch a metaphor early marriage and a high total fertility can be taken as a human choice for a sort of r-selection

Similarly, late marriage (generally following greater personal development) and fewer children (with consequently more time and effort put into raising each), can be taken as a sort of K-selection… and oddly enough, this sort of lifestyle tends to correlate with social liberals. Add in other, unrelated lifestyle choices that correlate, and these you can see where the geographic factor comes in.

Now, obviously these analogies aren’t perfect: I know a fair number of social liberals who paired up relatively young, and a modest number with large families… and there are social conservatives who marry late and have small families. And social issues don’t always correlate perfectly with one’s voting, even if they often do. But I do think that the author of that piece manages to put the cart before the horse in assuming that those factors drive or even help determine one’s views/lifestyle/cultural orientation, rather than being signs driven by it.

(* for 18-44 y/o white women, a particularly silly measure given the cut-off age, IMO: it mainly measures age at first marriage, not the actually divorce rate… which as we’ve seen is lowest in some very blue states)
(** here’s that “white women” thing again. Do you think this guy may have race issues?)