Mind

Religion determines politics for Asian Americans

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanNov 11, 2012 4:38 PM

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I was at ASHG this week, so I've followed reactions to the election passively. But one thing I've seen is repeated commentary on the fact that Asian Americans have swung toward the Democrats over the past generation. The thing that pisses me off is that there is a very obvious low-hanging fruit sort of explanation out there, and I'm frankly sick and tired of reading people ramble on without any awareness of this reality. We spent the past few months talking about the power of polls, and quant data vs. qual (bullshit) analysis, with some of my readers going into full on let's-see-if-Razib-is-moron-enough-to-swallow-this-crap mode.

In short, it's religion. Barry Kosmin has documented that between 1990 and 2010 Asian Americans have become far less Christian, on average. Meanwhile, the Republican party has become far more Christian in terms of its identity. Do you really require more than two sentences to infer from this what the outcome will be in terms of how Asian Americans will vote?

Below I took the data from Pew's Religious Identification Survey in terms of how all Americans lean politically based on religion, and compared it to how Asian Americans lean based on religion.

overview11

Now compare the above to the breakdown of Asian American religiosity. Over half of Asian Americans are non-Christian. The track record of non-Christians voting for Republicans in today's America is not good. In contrast, Asian American lean toward Republicans is fine, assuming that they are Christian (the Evangelical group above excludes historically black churches). Asian American Catholics are somewhat more Democrat than white non-Hispanic Catholics, but far less than Hispanic Catholics. But the issue is that Christians, aggregating the Evangelical, Mainline, and Catholic categories together, only make up ~40 percent of the Asian American population. In 1990 60 percent of Asian Americans were Christian. Today 30 percent follow non-Christian religions. In 1990 15 percent did.

These data may not explain all the variation between then and now (the two causal factors being the growing identification of the Republican party with Christianity, and the growing non-Christianity of Asian America), but they can explain most of the variation. In other words, if you want to present another model, show me the data. I don't care about your opinion or intuition. Intuition is another word for private bullshit. There is social science out there that doesn't require an esoteric regression model. It's not even in the class of a non-obvious prediction. Rather, the description screams out at you. It's aggravating that people can't be bothered to find this stuff when they can be bothered to subject me to long ramblings and ruminations.

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