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In the U.S., are people with more education more likely to vote liberal and progressive, or is this merely a perception? If yes, is this true in general, or only for certain disciplines? Are there any studies investigating the causes?

In Sweden and in The Netherlands, it is a bit more complicated; the traditional left is larger among lower-educated people, but the greens are larger among higher-educated people.

I do have my own personal theory as to the causes, but that one is entirely subjective and not backed up by any evidence

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    there is a correlation. Academia itself is considered to be liberal – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Dec 19 '12 at 22:35
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    This is not what I said. I didn't say people with more edication, but people with specialties in "soft" fields (e.g. "social science" vs "Engineering") – user4012 Dec 19 '12 at 22:46
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    @DVK - Those of us in the social sciences (for myself, psychology) usually prefer it to be called just that: the social sciences. "Soft sciences" implies such professions are somehow not hard work and specialized fields. Just wanted to drop that comment. Also, hello! :) – a Slytherin Dec 20 '12 at 9:53
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    Please note: The author tried to keep the question "constructive" — i.e. suitable for a Stack Exchange-style Q&A — by asking for studies. Answers that are simply soapboxing with partisanship speech-making and opinion will be and have been removed. This is not the place for this. Please see Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. – Robert Cartaino Dec 20 '12 at 17:27
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    @RobertCartaino - by the time you deleted my answer, it was backed up by actual exit polls. How's that "opinion"? – user4012 Dec 20 '12 at 17:59
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If by liberal and progressive you imply in the use that they tend to vote Democrat, the answer should be yes, but not by as large a margin as is usually implied/guessed.

As an example we can take the exit polls from the 2012 presidential race, we see that while Obama won in most of the educational categories (look at the NYTimes) he did win by significantly higher margins in the postgraduate part of the population (+13 percentage points), lost college graduates by 4%, and won people with some college by 1%.

| Who                                    | % Population | Obama | Romney | Obama's Margin |
===========================================================================================
| People with no higher education at all | 53%          | 51%   | 47%    | 4%             |
| People with some college               | 29%          | 49%   | 48%    | 1%             |
| College educated                       | 29%          | 47%   | 51%    | -4%            |
| Postgraduate                           | 18%          | 55%   | 42%    | 13%            |

The same holds true for the Senate races where the Democrats control "safely" the potsgraduates.

Or you can look at a typical red state (Texas) where the only group democrats carried consistently are postgraduates.

  • If you wish to talk about the margin I imply, you will need the polls broken out by the major they studied. – user4012 Dec 19 '12 at 23:43
  • do you have numbers to back that up? I could not find such exit polls – Sven Clement Dec 19 '12 at 23:47
  • I could not either, thus it was a comment, not an answer :) But anekdotally, it's true that a vast majority of liberal arts majors are liberal, and a lot more of them than hard science ones. There exist both free market and non free market economists, but I don't think you can find a lot of republican-supporting ethnic studies, social studies, English or "journalism" majors. – user4012 Dec 20 '12 at 0:13
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    You should probably mention that presidential runs are anecdotes and not scientific data. In the campaign the candidates specifically targeted sectors of the electorate based on a number of subjective criteria: this makes it very likely that the polls merely represents the candidates' marketing campaign strategy and not some deeper truth. – Sklivvz Dec 25 '12 at 20:08
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    Just came across this, and I'm wondering whether there should actually be two "college" rows as the % of population adds up to a total of 129% as it is? – cbeleites supports Monica Jul 28 '13 at 20:23

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