July 20, 2004

Color me purple

If David Brooks' broad generalizations are right, there's no reason it shouldn't be possible to create a quiz that tells you if you're a Red or Blue Stater.

But despite the fact that I reside in just about the Capitol of Bluedom (maybe the suburbs thereof since moving from the Upper West Side), I came out almost dead center.

PJ at sexualchocolate takes a stab at figuring out where the quiz (and by extension Brooks) goes wrong: "What frustrates me about the more glib and simplistic varieties of the red America-blue America hypothesis is that it lacks predictive power: your cultural touchstones are, at best, a rough guideline to how you'll vote or even as to where you live."

Posted by Daniel Radosh


I also finished dead center, and I'm blue as the day is long. Problem with this quiz was that it failed to outsmart itself. Yes, I happen to know what the Quad Cities are, and like many liberals living in MI and OH, I know what the Upper Peninsula is. I even know who Toby Keith is, tho I fervently wish that I didn't. One's knowledge of trivia and geography doesn't determine one's politics. I'm pretty sure Ken Jennings is a red-stater, but I'm betting he could pick Gore Vidal out of a lineup (and probably has).

Problem is that knowing about something gives the same result as caring about it. So knowing too much will put you squarely in the middle.

You both make an excellent point, which I probably should have noted myself in the post. But peddlers of the Red/Blue theory usually imply (and sometimes openly state) not just that Blues have different interests than Reds, but that Blues are out of touch with Red (i.e., mainstream) America. The quiz fails to distinguish between knowing and caring, as Theo observes, because it buys the Brooks argument that I not only don't care about Dale Earnhardt, but don't even know who he is.

(And I can confirm that I neither know enough to be sure that I spelled his name right or care enough to check).

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