Charles Murray Whiffs on Asians

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 26 2012 4:21 PM

Charles Murray Whiffs on Asians

The grand master of the Bell Curve is used to liberals pointing and sputtering at his conclusions. He typically pre-empts this by burying them with research -- research they, the sort of people who believe that human evolution happened but that human biodiversity is a myth, sure have not done.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

So this piece on why Asian voters went so heavily for the Democrats is a head-scratcher. Where's the data? "My thesis," writes Murray, "is that the GOP is in trouble across the electoral board because it has become identified in the public mind with social conservatism." The best data file we get comes from the current population survey, which reveals that Asians are "richer, more often in conservative-skewed professions, equally married, and less often divorced than non-Latino whites—all indicators that normally identify disproportionately conservative voters."

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Oh, and also:

there are reasons for Asian Americans not to like Democrats. Asians who became successful because everyone in the family worked two or three jobs (a common strategy behind Asian success) are likely to be offended by the liberal “You didn’t build that” mentality.

How did "you didn't build that" become a liberal mentality? The rest of us -- voters, all -- heard that quote as an Obama riff on government spending and infrastructure building that went a little awry at the end. As small businessmen figured out (some of them only after finishing their RNC speeches), government contracts can play a role in the creation of successful independent firms. Contrast this with how Murray describes the GOP.

Republicans are seen by Asians—as they are by Latinos, blacks, and some large proportion of whites—as the party of Bible-thumping, anti-gay, anti-abortion creationists. Factually, that’s ludicrously inaccurate.

If he says so, but if you want to argue the other side, you've got some evidence. Democrats want to repeal DOMA; Republicans don't want to allow a vote on DOMA repeal, as they oppose it anyway. Democrats are pro-choice and pro-Planned Parenthood funding; Republicans, generally, are pro-life, and most of them in Washington are now on record voting to defund Planned Parenthood.

If I'm a non-Latino white conservative in West Virginia or Kentucky or Arkansas, it's clear that the GOP best reflects my social values. And so I voted for the party this month, powering it to big gains in my state. You could view the "why X group votes Y way" debate this way -- why do whites vote for the party that best represents them on a range of issues? Instead, Murray treats whites as the logic-based control group, and asks why non-whites don't approach the vote quite as logically.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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