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Ideology, fecundity, and mobility

SEATTLE, Washington - In case you didn't hear in the aftermath of the 2004 election, white fertility rates had an incredibly high correlation with voting patterns - Bush carried 25 of the top 26 white-fertility-rate states, while Kerry carried the bottom 16 states in this category.

This was pointed out today in a post by Bryan Caplan that was a response to Arnold Kling's grim assessment that demographic trends were going to result in stagnant, single-party Democratic rule in the coming years.

Caplan (who's very much into nature-vs-nurture stuff) countered Kling's grimness with the idea that the higher birthrates combined with an intergenerational correlation in ideological preferences spells trouble for Democrats in the long term.

I'm not buying it. Even if there is some small genetic component to ideology, it can't possibly be enough to counter the fact that a certain percentage of young people currently flee and will continue to flee their stagnant red-state origins.

Many years ago, I was on a feverish, catch-all conspiracy email list (remember those?) One member would often post stories about "infiltration" of homosexuals in the school system etc. and then note that "homosexuals can't reproduce, so they have to recruit to replenish their ranks". That's an asinine observation about homosexuality, but I think I can twist that quote around on this issue: "Heartland religious conservatives can't recruit, so they have to reproduce to replenish their ranks."

Problem is, a certain percentage of these "reproduced" folks leave the Heartland and move to coastal urban centers and turn into leftist Democratic voters. This migration strikes me as largely unidirectional. If you live in a big city, like Seattle, you probably have some friends who moved there from [insert dumpy red state here] as young adults, often leaving their religious upbringing behind. How many people go in the opposite direction? How many Boston Brahmins or young Seattle urchins leave home to become religious conservatives in Nebraska?

There's a reason the migration is unidirectional - people (especially young, curious folks) are going to head for the more dynamic, less restrictive lifestyle. Cultural homogeneity and an alleged 6,000 year old Earth are not great bases for recruitment - you have to "birth" people into that world-view and hope they stick around. Dynamic culture, sex, drugs, and a government that allegedly will tend to your more costly worldly needs? As Drucker said in Heat, "I don't have to sell this and you know it, 'cause this kind of shit here sells itself."

I had to use all sorts of labels and terms here I usually avoid - Red State, Heartland, blah blah... oh well. Only way to make my point.