Ohhhhmitted variables

Seth Masket points to an absolutely picture perfect example of omitted variables bias.  Textbook case of why we have the concept of statistical control:

Yeah, about that Match.com survey (via John Sides)…

Republican Lead the Polls—In Orgasm

Yep, you heard that right. Republicans—and conservative Republicans, for that matter—reported the highest frequency of orgasm of all of the survey respondents, despite having the least amount of sex. More than half of those who identified as conservative Republicans said they reached climax almost every time they had sex, compared with just 40 percent of liberal Democrats. Sure, these answers are self-reported, but the survey was conducted anonymously online. What reason do they have to lie?

Well, there are plenty of reasons people would lie in an anonymous survey, particularly about such a subject. But did they think to control for gender?

Ideology                        Percent male

Extremely liberal                  37.3
Extremely conservative        53.2

(Source: ANES 2008)

What a shock — the percentages who claim to have orgasms every time they have sex are almost the exact same percentages who happen to be men.

What a horrible piece of journalism in the original Daily Beast article.  That’s why we need more journalists who were political science majors and took a social science research methods class and less who were English majors (nothing against English majors, mind you).

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Romney (not) in context

Drum links to this chart of Romney’s amazingly climbing unfavorable ratings:

and remarks:

Mitt Romney’s favorability rating has been in complete free fall since early January. If the Republican primary lasts another few months, he’s going to be about as popular as your average dinnertime telemarketer.

I must admit to simply not really knowing much about how valuable (or not valuable) such favorability ratings are.  Sure, right now, Romney’s unfavorables are way up, but just how hard are these to reverse?  Is this a reasonably typical pattern for a candidate in a contested primary?  What typically happens to a candidates favorable/unfavorable ratings when moving from primary to general?  I don’t know, but I’d like to.  Maybe this is a really bad sign for Romney, but I’m not willing to conclude that absent more information.  A few weeks before the Florida primary Newt Gingrich was way up in the polls.  After that, it seemed that Romney would cruise to victory.  Regardless, these numbers have to make the Obama campaign happy.

Women in state legislatures

Much to my dismay, every now and then my awesome co-author on all the Politics of Parenthood stuff, Laurel Elder, chooses to do cool research without me.  Her latest is just out and it takes a look at how women continue to increase as a share of Democratic state  legislators, but are actually shrinking as a portion of Republican state legislators:

What’s up, you ask.  Well, Laurel’s got that covered:

Taken together, the results demonstrate there are a set of factors, rooted in the distinctive cultures and ideological polarization of the parties at the mass and elite levels, that contribute to the dearth of Republican women in state legislatures. The Republicanism of a state’s electorate, the professionalism of the legislature, and the influence of the Christian Right are currently working together to constrain the opportunities and representation of Republican women only. Meanwhile, the representation of Democratic women is benefiting from the strong presence of women in the workforce, the actions of women’s groups, and the opportunities created by term limits.

Not a big fan of term limits, but I am a big fan of increasing women’s representation.  Meanwhile, it is definitely interesting to see the influence of the Christian Right holding back women’s opportunities.

Chart of the day

Via Jon Cohn:

I’m all for Republicans taking this issue and running with it.  It’s simply not a winning issue for them.  Americans like having sex without having babies (this has led to me having some interesting conversations with my 12-year old son, David).

Photo of the day

From the Big Picture gallery of World Press Photo Contest winners.  Took me a second of looking to figure out the perspective on this, but once I did, wow.


1st Prize Nature Singles: A male polar bear climbs precariously on the face of a cliff above the ocean at Ostrova Oranskie in northern Novaya Zemlya, attempting to feed on seabird eggs. (Jenny E. Ross)

Pre-school lunch fiasco

Okay, no matter your ideology, this is ridiculous:

RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.

The Daily Caller version goes on to make a case about liberal over-reach, etc.,

The story has sparked national outrage against bureaucrats and politicians who aim to force food standards and health initiatives into place through legislation and regulatory action. North Carolina Republican Party spokesman Rob Lockwood told The Daily Caller it’s the latest example of why government “intrusion” isn’t helping anyone.

“More parental inclusion, less government intrusion would go a long way to solving our nation’s woes,” Lockwood said in an email. “Today is not a strong day for big-government, nanny-state enthusiasts.”

Here’s the thing, though, any ideology can go too far.  Do liberals want kids to have healthy lunches?  Ummm, yes.  My apologies.  Do liberals think this action is appropriate?  I dare say only the most extreme ones do.  As a parent who has received repeated complaints from school because my kid’s lunches never have any fruits and vegetables, I am personally sensitive to the issue.  Look, neither David nor Evan would eat any fruits or vegetables we send with them and pretending otherwise is just a waste of good food.  Should schools provide healthy lunches?  Yes.  Should pre-schools and daycares over-rule the lunches parents send from home?  No.  Also, I totally object to the requirement of one meat.  Protein, sure; meat, no.  This strikes me, in part, as more interest group lobbying (i.e., the meat industry) than being about health.

Anyway, when government does over-reach like this, I think liberals need to be just as forthright in calling it as do conservatives, as it undermines the liberal project by suggesting that valid and worthwhile government goals (kids being offered healthy meals in preschool and daycare) are not valid and worthy goals.  There’s a balance here, and this case clearly shows that balance going too far.

On a side note, I appreciate how the Carolina Journal, an admittedly conservative publication, just does solid reporting and lets the facts largely speak for themselves.  The Daily Caller, in contrast, is interested in completely hyping the story from a conservative perspective.  While pursuing a conservative perspective, the Carolina Journal is so fair, in fact, that they’ve even interviewed me on occasion.   Obviously, I don’t agree with the overall ideology of Carolina Journal, but this is my idea (at least the stories I’ve read) of what a solid conservative publication should be.

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