speaking of stealing ideas from smarter people, i was reading paul krugmans blog today. he's been posting about white southern voters making the most important electoral difference in swinging the nation, at least for a time, towards the republican party. he then referenced a research paper called "whats the matter with what's the matter with kansas". The orginal book "what's the matter with kansas" posited that democrats had lost touch with the "blue collar" average american. The research paper broke down numbers from various sources which seem to show that's not the case. Low income white americans are more likely to be democrats, haven't become more socially conservative and haven't generally been trending more towards the republican party over the past several decades.
The interesting thing about the whole thing is that I read the book and pretty much bought it hook, line and sinker. As, I might say did many others, considering it was a widely praised best seller. I just assumed the author, Frank, had researched the numbers. And that they all added up to support his thesis. or at least that they numbers were ambiguous. but apparently not. now, i can't say who is actually right. i haven't done any independent research. but it def goes to show, even when a book seems to ake sense, and it supports a thesis you find intellectually appealing, without some hard numbers it can all be clever rhetoric and anecdotes. thank god there are smart people who run the numbers for me.