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Name: Kurt Cagle
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cascadia
Member since: Sat Dec 3, 2016, 02:02 AM
Number of posts: 1,426

About Me

Contributing Writer, Forbes Magazine

Journal Archives

Trump and Low IQ Voters

I've held a theory for a while that Democrats are smarter than Republicans. It's not by much - perhaps only about 5 points, but it's consistent with what I've seen in the literature. If you control for other factors - race, sex, age, income, and region, for instance - this difference is another way of talking about college-educated vs. non-college-educated people. College specifically tests for intelligence, by either direct or indirect measures, and while hardly consistently true, going to college usually signals that a person is more likely to be just a bit smarter than average.

Why does this matter? Intelligence, like many aggregates, tends to follow a normal or gaussian distribution (with some caveats). The actual distribution is slightly asymmetric, with a somewhat longer tail towards higher values and a somewhat bulgier (short tail) towards lower values. Put another way, if you assume the mean is 100, then there are roughly as many people between an IQ of 100-112 as there between 90 and 100, and there are likely fewer people at 80 than there are at 120. This is also not necessarily talking about the Stanford-Binet IQ test, which has many flaws, but is more a question of any reasonable measure of mental capacity. For purposes of discussion, however, talking about a normal or gaussian distribution for intelligence is not unreasonable.

When you make the argument that Trump generally attracts lower-IQ voters, what that means is that the mean of the distribution of Trump voters is likely about 5 points lower. You may have Trump voters that have IQs of 130 (two standard deviations), but there will be fewer of them there are Biden voters at 130. How much fewer? Consider that IQ has a standard deviation of around 15 points, this means that there are 22,800 people per 1M people with an IQ of 130, given a mean of 100. If the mean is 95, however, there are only 9,800 people per 1M people with an IQ of 130.

What's telling is that at an IQ of 95 or below (or a standard deviation of about 0.33) you end up with about 37% of the population, approximately the size of Trump's base. Again, is should be emphasized that this is a distribution - you will have high IQ trump supporters, but you will have more Trump supporters with IQs of 90 or less than you would in the Biden distribution ... significantly more.

There are some cognitive hallmarks that you tend to see at different levels of intelligence. At an IQ of 100, magical thinking usually begins to give way to more analytical thinking - the ability to think logically from known priors. At around 120, analytic thinking shifts towards systemic thinking - the ability to understand how systems operate, to get a better sense for the idea of chains (or graphs) of events. At 140, you are beginning to think holistically - the ability to compare multiple systems and see the metaphoric similarities and differences. Most mathematicians usually clock in around 135-140 and go up from there.

Below 95, magical thinking predominates - the world exists in black and white, supernatural agents predominate, and there is a clear social order that you belong to. The ability to think analytically is simply not developed yet, though it's nascent in conspiracy theories that appear logically consistent but are usually built upon weak priors. This is the land of the cargo cult - people do actions that make no sense though at one point they did. This is also the realm of the sports team booster - my team is better than your team because I am a member of this team. Since you are not, I am better than you. Roughly 40% of the population in the US is in this zone.

About half of the conservative faction, 50% are magical thinkers, while only about 35% of the liberal faction is. On the other hand, there are about three times as many holistic thinkers among liberals than conservatives, and these tend to be responsible for the majority of patents, books, and other intellectual property produced in this country.

Trump understands the low IQ voter, because he is one. The Dunning-Krueger Effect, where one overestimates personal competence when you don't have the necessary foundations, is strong among this crowd. They live with a personal feeling of resentment, fear of complexity and distrust of those people who are the "intellectual elite", who understand things they don't, and they often turn this resentment into hatred. They want their world to be understandable and simple, and when it is neither, they tend to blame those who do.

This also should give some indication about who is and is not likely to be a blind Trump follower. As intelligence rises, the ability to compare data points and draw inferential conclusions also rises, and after awhile, someone who is already an analyst, even if they are predisposed to a conservative viewpoint, will get alarmed when they see ongoing incompetence and corruption. Trumpist lawmakers are ideologues, and for the most part, they tend to have a magical thinking view of the world (or at least project that they do) in order to reach the sub 100 population. Personally, I think that Trump probably once had a working IQ around 115 or so, but it's deteriorating fast as he self-destructs.

I expect to get a few bricks thrown at me for this, but it seems consistent with what I'm seeing.

538 has Trump down to Two Maps

This may seem silly, but I've become obsessive about checking out the 538 forecast. In the background of the leader page (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-election-forecast/) the graphic (showing potential Trump and Biden election maps) is not static. Instead, it reflects the likelihood of a red vs. blue victory. When the forecast started after the RNC convention, there were 11 red maps and 11 blue maps. As of today, we are down to 2 red maps (Trump) and 20 blue maps (Biden), with Trump at 11% likelihood in the 538 forecast, Biden at 89%. This race is also as stable as any I've seen in the last 35 years.

We voted

We had a whole bunch of amendments here in Washington, then the Presidential race at the very bottom, with Biden/Harris appearing first and Trump/Pence third in the list of about eight different parties. My wife, daughter and I sat around the dining room table, comparing candidates, while our cat Bright Eyes decided that the Voter's Pamphlet was the best place to lay on the table.

We dropped our ballots off at the Drop Box in Issaquah, WA, at the city hall building. It was getting towards early evening, but even so, with twenty days to go, there was a steady stream of people dropping their ballots off.

Issaquah's on the very outer fringe of Seattle along I-90 - less than a mile down the road, you're on the steep climb into the Cascade mountains. As such, it's an interesting mix of rural and urban. I've seen a fair number of signs for Culp, who's waging an uphill battle against the very popular Jay Inslee. I have seen quite a few Biden/Harris signs, but none for Trump (it was fifty/fifty in 2016). Even on the ballots, there were several races between Democrats and Democrats.

There's also a very palpable energy in people - they want Trump out, in no uncertain terms. There's a lot of respect for Biden, but the loathing that Trump generates here is strong.

What about the census?

If (I hope) Biden wins, one of the most pressing issues may be to advocate to redo the census, citing numerous irregularities. As this factors in apportionment of legislators and hence political control over the next decade, it would seem reasonable to start laying the groundwork for a census redo. Thoughts?

538.com: Biden chances for winning 77%, Trump 22%

This projection was 65/35 at the end of August, and Trump has fallen a point every day and a half since. GA and IA are now both reported as tossups.


Where Does RBG's death put Roberts?

Reading up on Five Thirty Eight about the impact of a Trump SCOTUS appointment will play out, I noticed, an interesting graphic:


One of the most startling observations was that when he was nominated in 2005, Roberts was about as conservative as Alito, but especially in the last few years, Roberts has become almost scrupulously moderate. The reputation of the supreme court is actually something very much of value to him, and he has become a mentor to Kavenaugh to the extent that Kavenaugh's been surprisingly moderate in his own decisions.

I have to wonder, if Trump does attempt to push through an arch-conservative (and his judicial list has a bunch of them), Roberts may very well move farther to the left to compensate - not necessarily because he's temperamentally becoming more liberal but because he doesn't want to see the courts become a political instrument.

Another thought. Breyer is 82, Thomas is 72, and Alito is 70. For reference, Ginsburg was 87, and while we hoped she'd lived to be ninety she's been battling cancer for a long time now. Should Biden win, I suspect that Breyer will announce his retirement in February, putting a young (likely black female) justice on the court (Michelle, where are you?). This brings up an interesting possibility. Thomas at that point has to make a decision - stay on until health does become an issue (and his health isn't great) or retire as well.

Let's say that Trump decides to put forward the current version of Laura Ingraham in a black robe (https://www.ratfuckingthecourts.com/post/report-amy-coney-barrett), it's likely that McConnell may be in a quandary, as it pushes a raving lunatic into senate judiciary hearings in prime time election mode at a time when people are angry at how extreme right the GOP has gone. That gives McConnell about sixty days to put a second appointee up after the election, before Trump is out on his ear.

The SCOTUS decisions traditionally are made in June. This means that worse case scenario there will be a counter to Trump Pick #3 in place (Roberts shifting leftward) and the very real possibility that either Thomas or Alito will end up retiring or possibly dying between now and the end of Biden's term.

Of course, if Trump wins, we're screwed regardless, but I don't think he will.

Has any action been taken to declare the West a Federal Emergency by the BLOTUS?

I was in the hospital with angina and am still catching up?

Is Putin Distracted?

Russia's primary income comes from oil, natural gas and wheat sales to Europe, and at the moment, neither oil nor natural gas are doing that well. There are also two sets of protests, one in Belarus (where a Putin sympathizer is under siege) and one in Kamchatka, which could very well break away and deprive Russia a Pacific facing coast. This means that Putin's financial resources are under a lot of pressure right now.

I have to wonder if part of the reason that Trump is panicking at this point is that the Russians aren't coming to his rescue the way that he expected them to. He's showing signs that his campaign funds are drying up, and he's now seriously pissing off the military and explicitly supporting his white supremacist shock troops, rather than being subtle about it.


Why Republicans seems to score better on economic issues than Democrats

I've observed this for decades, and I think it has to do with the way that people react to leaders, specifically how introverts vs. extrovers react.

Republicans, for the most part, are extroverts. They gravitate towards leaders who exude confidence, who brag about their achievements, and who seem to constantly be battling crises, because that is their impression of how a leader should act. One thing you will note us that the typical wealthy republican is almost always in marketing, sales or administration, or are used to working in hierarchies.

They perceive that they are very good with money, because this is one of the hallmarks of a "successful" businessman. In reality they tend not to be deep thinkers, and more to the point they are usually not systemic thinkers. They also see society in terms of "Ive got mine," because otherwise they have to admit they got lucky, and that is not something most want to believe.

Dems tend to skew towards introversion, and are often more likely to be systemic thinkers, analysts, and activists. They value competence, and dislike braggadocio. When they focus on finance, they are usually quite good at it, but they tend to look at finance from a quantitative perspective. When they don't focus on finance, they usually tend to gain mastery within their respective fields, but don't always become wildly "successful" (i.e., rich) simply because it is not what interests them.

Republicans understand that the easiest way of making money is to convince other people to give them money for the least amount of work. They usually look at everything from the perspective of how they can most benefit financially from the current situation, and only secondarily do the look at it (if at all) from the standpoint of whether what they are doing is in fact the right thing to do long term.

Democrats, in general, tend to think much longer term - ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred years down the road. Republicans think about next quarter, maybe next year, but anything beyond that is simply not important, because by then they'll be on to the next scam ... er, leadership position. Republicans are not system thinkers, and what's more, when they look at Democrats, they don't see those Democrats doing anything "big" - they don't meet each crisis head-on, because a typical Democrat is more likely to defuse a situation before it becomes a crisis, but this is invisible to the conservative mindset.

Democrats build foundations. Republicans build walls. Trump is almost the perfect Republican - he has trouble thinking about long term legacies, because he can only see what's immediately ahead of him. He only sees what's in it for himself, which is why he treats the presidency like being a king. His "signature" legacies were in general done by the GOP between 2016 and 2018 - the corporate tax breaks and the stacking of the judiciary, which was basically rubberstamping whoever the Heritage Foundation put in front of him, but its very significant that once the Democrats took over the House, he accomplished nothing else (oh, yeah, he's built 4.5 miles of wall).

I think the thing that Democrats don't understand is that most sales/marketing people don't think in the same way that they do (I count being a CEO as being prinarily a sales role), and even that's changing, as marketing becomes more and more technically focused and data driven.

Remember what is at stake for the GOP

The GOP is no longer even trying to hide the fact that it is going to cheat to win the election. They are now facing an existential crisis:

* A massive turnout against Trump will not only shift the Presidency and the Senate into Democratic hands, but it will also result in the loss of several state legislatures and GOP friendly governors. This means that they will lose the ability to gerrymander in favor of Republican politicians for the next decade. Without that, the archconservative GOP will go extinct. Romney might be able to resuscitate a much more moderate GOP from the embers, but the vast majority of people now in power will lose out.

* There's been a lot of corruption, and it will be investigated if he does lose. This will implicate Trump and his cronies and nepotistic appointees, but it will also likely reach into the Senate as well. Given a choice between staying in power by betraying the country or going to jail, they will happily tear the Constitution to shreds.
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