More Petunias: some extra data [updated]

[updated] I’m even less sure of that data below now. The 100% figure for book publisher seems unlikely. Going to the FEC website and searching on ‘book publisher’ I find lots of hits and some are obviously to Republicans. That isn’t to say the Verdant Labs data is wrong, just without a clear statement of what they did and what they counted it is hard to tell what the numbers are saying. Interesting though.

In the comments to Part 9 timbartik said:

You might add to this that the political orientation of science fiction fans and writers might have some similarity to that of scientists whose political beliefs are to the left of the overall U.S. population. See this recent report:

At the extreme, astrophysicists have 98 Democrats for every 2 Republicans. Astronomers are 93 Dems to 7 Repubs, and computer scientists are at 89 to 11. Even engineers are 71 Democrats to 29 Republicans.

This is an interesting data set. It is based not on survey data but from campaign contribution data from the FEC that includes profession of the donor as part of the metadata. The producers of the data the simply assume that the proportions by donation reflect the proportions by occupation (as explained here )

I think the data needs to be treated with some caution as it doesn’t tell us for any given profession how many actual data points there are in the stats. For example a 80%-20% split in a given profession is less impressive if it only represented 5 people and was a 4 person to 1 person split. Secondly people who contribute to political parties may themselves be unusual compared to the general population. The site doesn’t give a direct link to the FEC, so I can’t also be sure which kind of campaign data finance data this is. It isn’t safe to assume that America’s two main parties are funded in the same way – the style of donation we are looking at here may skew towards Democrats (or vice-versa) and I don’t know if donations via third parties (e.g. unions) are in the mix.

Still all data is data. The science profession data timbartik mentions is certainly in line with other sources such as this Pew Research Center study that found:

Most scientists identify as Democrats (55%), while 32% identify as independents and just 6% say they are Republicans. When the leanings of independents are considered, fully 81% identify as Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, compared with 12% who either identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP.

But does this tell us much about SF/F writers or fans? It certainly suggests that when somebody like Vox Day argues that conservatives out number liberals, he may well be misleading himself if he thinks this is true in all subsections of the US population. In the Pew typology data that I looked at in multiple parts of the Petunias posts there were various connections between level of education and position on the political spectrum. Additionally it is reasonable to expect some degree of association between political affiliation and working in publicly funded academic institutions.

Still, even with all those caveats, this data has some interesting bits to argue over.

First of all publishing: as a general category it splits 73% to 27% but book publishing specifically splits 100%-0% to Democrats. That would certainly be grist to the mill of leftists-are-stopping-us-getting-published theory from Puppy sympathizers. Mind you when I see 100% in some data, I’m inclined to suspect it represent a single person.

Writing in general splits 88% to 12% but covers a wide range of professions. Drilling down two sub-sets are of interest:
Author splits 73% democrat to 27% republican
Novelist splits 82% democrat to 18% republican


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