Sunday, October 25, 2009

Much as before: college, high school and politics

This entry is a second set of three graphs, with the same premise as yesterday's. But these graphs look at Oregon and its counties, instead of the US and its states. I do this because I am (more or less) an Oregonian, and Oregon also provides somewhat of a political and social cross section.

Also, bowing to reader pressure, I have decided to "label" my "axes". I guess that is what the cool kids do.

So, starting off, this is a scatterplot of Oregon's high school and college graduation rates:
Much like with the US as a whole, there is a vague trend, with significant outliers on either end, and then a big ball in the middle. Much like with the US on the whole, high high school completion seems to be a necessary, but not sufficient cause for high college attainment.
For those not familiar with Oregon geography, some of the outliers should be explained: Benton County, in the upper right, is a small county that is the home of Oregon State University, which is why it has high education rates. Malhuer and Gilliam counties are both small, rural counties (although separated geographically). Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties are the counties that make up Metro Portland, and they have about 1/3rd of Oregon's population.

Our next diagram shows Obama's margin and high school attainment rates:

I show the percentage of high school completion in comparion to the state average for clarity's sake...although it might actually do the opposite.
Much as in the US map as a whole, there is not a lot of pattern to this scatterplot. The state with the highest percentage of diploma holders voted for Obama, and the state with the lowest voted for McCain, but otherwise it is a pretty vague shape: Multnomah and Grant counties have about the same rate of high school graduation, but had a 100 point difference in their margins in the elections.

Our scatterplot of Obama's margin and college graduation rates takes us safely back into the conventional wisdom: there is a fairly obvious relationship between
college attainment and being politically liberal. Of the five counties above the 25% mark, (which is also about the average for Oregon on the whole), all five of them voted for Obama. McCain's biggest support seems to come from states that are at or below the 15% mark of college attainment. Much like with the US on the whole, while a fair amount of low-college counties went for Obama, there were no high-attainment counties that voted for McCain.
Also, again for those without knowledge of Oregon geography, the five counties in the top-right quadrant of the graph make up close to half of Oregon's population, which makes the strength of Obama in high-college areas even more significant.

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