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The Limited Importance of Demographics

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In politics and social science, including criminology, some people seem to be obsessed with classifying people into demographic pigeonholes.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics is particularly annoying in this regard.  The Sourcebook has table after table after table of data broken down by race, sex, etc., but if you want to know something about the crimes as simple as whether the killers were convicted of murder or manslaughter, you are pretty much out of luck. And, more importantly, you're out of data.

Lydia Saad at Gallup has this interesting article on the divergence of demographics and ideology in the likely voter mix for the midterm election.  This is politics rather than criminology, of course, but I think it illustrates that demographics are less important than many people imagine.  Gallup finds that the citizens likely to vote are considerably more conservative and more Republican than in prior midterm elections, yet "these voters' demographic profile is quite similar to what Gallup found in 2006, when the Democrats recaptured majority control of Congress."  The only demographic change of note is that the proportion of "white" likely voters is down a bit.

How can the electorate be getting less white and more conservative at the same time? For the demographics-obsessed folks who think conservatism is nothing but a veneer over racism, that's a real head-scratcher.

Time to get over the obsession.  And BJS, tell us more about the crimes and less about pigeonholes.

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The Sourcebook and the online data at BJS are so frustrating. Why, on earth, is this data not more readily available?

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