More support for the crazification factor

Back in 2011, I posted about a 2005 blog post by John Rogers on the site Kung Fu Monkey who, based on the number of people who voted for Alan Keyes in the Illinois senate race against Barack Obama in 2004, decided that there is a 27% ‘crazification’ factor in the US electorate that represented the percentage of people who would vote for a totally unfit and even wildly nutty candidate purely out of tribal loyalty. (Whatever happened to Keyes? He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1996, 2000, and 2008 but has been quiet recently.) The post was written facetiously but the idea caught on like wildfire and others started seeing evidence from other cases that provided support for that number.

And now here comes another piece of evidence. It should be clear to anyone by now that Donald Trump is a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, ignorant, narcissistic, needy, liar, utterly unfit to not just be president but to hold any position of responsibility that involves having power over others. And yet, the Economist/YouGov poll finds that when asked who is the better president Abraham Lincoln or Donald Trump, 25% of all respondents chose Trump. When disaggregated (p. 267), that number stays pretty much the same across gender, age, family income, and region. The one outlier is that only 10% of blacks prefer Trump. It should come as no surprise that 53% of Republicans choose Trump.

The lesson from this is that there is no proposition so absurd or candidate so undeserving that a quarter of the population will not sign on in support because their tribal loyalty takes precedence over everything else. It is a deeply sobering thought.


  1. raven says

    I came up the same theory almost two decades ago.

    It started when I ran into the creationists and discovered that 20% of the US population were still Geocentrists.
    Geocentrists believe the sun orbits the earth and are unable to diagram the solar system, a task I learned in the first grade.
    This tells you 20% will believe anything they want to.

  2. ardipithecus says

    I doubt that it is an American phenomenon. It appears to hold true all over the world -- about 1/4 of the population won’t let facts, reprehensible behaviour, or, sometimes, even betrayal get in the way of their loyalties. I swear. there are people here (BC) who would vote for a convicted pedophile if he were a member of the right party.

  3. lanir says

    I think things like this are just a way of trying to use statistics as a crutch to tell yourself people can be awful. And they can be awful to a seemingly unlimited extent if you let them have a bit of support while they do it.

    I don’t think it’s necessary or particularly useful to try and peg down a specific number. Doing that feels like you’re trying to pick a margin for error on reasonable, sane thought processes but I don’t think that’s what you actually get out of it.

    Also… Apparently Republicans need to pay more attention in history class. A choice between Lincoln and Trump is a choice between two Republicans. But that was before the two parties flip-flopped on many key values. I would think that particular framing would make tribalism seem just a bit more foolish than it already is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *