Thursday, July 15, 2004

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Hey you -- red or blue?

Following Virginia Postrel's advice, I took Slate's "Red or Blue" Quiz. Turns out that -- like Virginia -- I'm purple, i.e., right in the middle, and therefore permitted to live in both places. So that's a relief.

Go take the quiz and find out where you should live. Report back on your findings.

posted by Dan on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM


I'm dead center on that quiz.

PS, If Kerry resigns, as you suggest, doesn't the republican Governor of Mass get to appoint his replacement?

posted by: TexasToast on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Born in the SF Bay Area, spent 9 years in school in the NE, and I ended up on the red side of the spectrum. I don't put too much stock in the thing.

posted by: Aaron on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Dead center. Complete cultural illiteracy == purple.

posted by: Richard Campbell on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Almost exactly in the middle as well. But, then, I was born in and grew up in Indiana, went to grad school in Wisconsin and West Virginia, and have since lived and worked in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, so what would you expect?

One problem is that the "test" is mostly a knowledge test, not a preferences test, so anyone who reads a lot (most academics?) is likely to know a lot of these things. Even if we (I) could care less about NASCAR.

posted by: Donald A. Coffin on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

center right:
born iowa, schooled in chicago and dublin, working in nebraska. for an agricultural giant.

with a political science degree.

posted by: patrick on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Right in the middle. Boring.

posted by: pjs on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

This quiz is seriously flawed. I realize its a fun thing but flawed none the less. It consists of factual questions that are either "red questions" or "blue questions." You get red points by answering a "red question" correctly OR a "blue question" incorrectly. If there is an equal number of "red questions" and "blue questions," and I think its pretty close, you will be purple if you get all of them right. You will also be purple if you get all of them WRONG. So it lumps people that pay attention to news/events/pop culture/geography/sports in the SAME catagory as those that don't have clue. It colors them purple.

posted by: Danny Noonan on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]


Makes sense. I'm born and bread in a swing state (Ohio) and live in a blue state neighborhood in red state Georgia

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Purple of Reddish tint.

Born in KY, lived in Osaka for a while, came back to KY near Cincinnati. Liberal arts education with a major in physics. Armchair general. Armchair economics student. Armchair quarterback. I love the armchair. Little 'l' libertarian.

posted by: Jason Ligon on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Middle, with a bluish tint.
Formative years in Toronto; high school in Texas; and now Southside Chicago-- about right.

(ugh, who wears white pantyhose!?!?! What a terror!)

posted by: j. zhou on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

More Red than Blue (about 60% to the right). But the test seems to test whether you're from the south as much as whether you are Red/Blue. E.g., I got +10 Red points for eating brisket with slices of white bread, red points for knowing who's in the Big 12, and for saying I "drive and park for free".


posted by: Angry Bear on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Smack dab in the middle. Of course, I'm from the south. Raised in Texas since the age of 3.

posted by: JC on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Slightly red. Grew up in Alabama, now live in Atlanta.

Pretty accurate.

posted by: David on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

My sense is that a test like this will give a near-gaussian distribution around "purple". I would be surprised if more than a few % of people are strongly on one side or the other (no, libertarians are not unique in all getting purple).

To split people into red or blue would imply that these questions have higly correlated answers, which seems silly based on the questions.

posted by: Paul N on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I suspect that most of your readers, being intelligent, educated, and clued into culture both high and low, will correctly answer most of the questions and wind up in the middle, with some slight variation due to differing responses to the few questions that seek preferences as opposed to general knowledge.

posted by: Donny on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Barely Red.

I've lived all my life in Kansas or Georgia.

posted by: MattJ on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Somewhat echoing earlier comments, the survey is flawed and skewed into red. Let's suppose you're a great cultural literate (which apparently I was by this survey though probably not by some other surveys), then you start off centered in the red.

By my count 12 questions actually reflect differences in red/blue outlooks (3,12,13,16,19,28,30,31,32,34,35,37), the rest were tests of knowledge or were skewed in one way or another. An example of a skewed question was the flag pin question (not at all being such an outlier that responders will naturally be pulled towards one of the red leaning responses thinking the answer is atypical).

Anyways, by my count, if you supply all the "right answers" you'll get 117.5 points for red (I average in the case of skewing) and 70 points for blue. Thus you're already red before you're preferences and practices come into play (which are more important anyhow).

Then the distribution of the actual dividing questions (like how far you live from Walmart, Angels, dog walking and what not) is slanted towards red. There's an average of 55.5 points available to blue and 70 available to red.

A little side note: as a "film classic" I felt that purchasing Annie Hall (Q36), as a general wish, was a correct answer (actual purchase decisions would tend towards "no" as actual tradeoffs would probably be considered at time of purchase). Perhaps this is dubious, but if this assumption is taken away, then there's only 65 base points from cultural knowledge for blue and the results are further skewed.

posted by: Jody on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I agree that the survey is flawed. It tests knowledge, not cultural attitudes.

I have never fired a gun but support the right to bear arms. I do not eat brisket with any of those things. I have read that it is not considered fashionable for women to wear white hose. I like country music yet have never been to Branson, MO nor would I like such a place. I watch the West Wing though I would never vote for a politician with Bartlett's views. So, am I a hick or a sophisticate? (That is what Red and Blue mean to people at Slate.)

By the way, shouldn't Blue staters consider what Slate thinks the "correct Blue State" answer to question 8 to be offensive?

posted by: Bob on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I'm 'a little red' which I find slightly offensive on a lower level.
This whole 'red=Republican', 'blue=Democrat' scheme was obviously introduced by Democrats.

posted by: MArk on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I'm in the middle leaning towards red. I left questions that I didn't know blank rather than guessing (still got some wrong, though...).

I wonder if a lot of people who saw (and liked) "The Passion of the Christ" know the name of the actor who played Jesus. (I did know, even though I didn't see the movie - I read the reviews.)

The LIRR question is quite bizarre, too, since rich people living on Long Island aren't necessarily "blue" at all. That Democrats living outside of the New York area would be more likely to know what the LIRR is than Republicans I find highly dubious. (I knew what the LIRR is because I have lived in New York in the past.)

Btw, I've often wondered why Republicans would be willing to be identified with "red" when red has traditionally been the color of socialists and communists. Quite odd, really.

posted by: gw on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

The red/blue state thing stems from 2000. Of course in 2004 its reverse; a blue state favors the incumbant (Bush) and a red state favors Kerry.

I was slightly red until I changed my answer to the book of revelation question (I guessed John) which put me "in the middle".

posted by: h0mi on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

In the middle, but that's just 'cause I know too many things I'd rather not know. 'Have never fired a gun, but the thought of it gets my trigger finger itching.

posted by: Sissy Willis on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Dead center, like so many others.

posted by: ScottM on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

"You are in the middle"

I'm obviously a middle of the roader. Dan Drezner must be some sort of right-wing Communist.

posted by: David Thomson on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I rate as a decidedly reddish purple, when (by the red=Repub/blue=Demo thing) I should be so far over to the red side that I'd only show up on a thermal imaging scope. I'd say the only thing this quiz proves is how little the folks at Slate know about real red-staters...

posted by: Cybrludite on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Landed right in the middle. Grew up in Kansas, live in Chicago now, so that sounds about right.

posted by: Kevin on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

WTF? Just because I know who Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith are, and because I know which places make up the Quad Cities, and because I know that Sam's Club is a subsidiary of Wal-Mart means I'm a repub? It's not like I listen to country music, have ever been to the Quad cities (or anywhere within about 1000 miles), or have a membership at Sam's Club.

posted by: Geoff on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]


Don't know what you've been tootin', but it's effected the normally independent thinkee's here as well.

Bo, there is no PURPLE.

The continuum runs from ends to center, achromatic staturation to un, i.e. WHITE. Never do blue & red, not sky-blue nor rakish pinko, meet - hence Your Royal Hue is undeeded. So I guess if you ARE "Purple" the only place you're "permited to live" is La-La Land ;-)

Myself: born in NYC, raised in Pittsburgh, graduated HS in SC, college in Chicago then 15 years E, W, N & S of America followed by a decade of repeated bounces overseas punctuated with stacatto hiatuses back in the USA, tinged with just a smack of Texas to grant my Lily-white just a hint of RED.

I was unexpectedly impressed in the accuracy of the test. I know there are some complaints of "that's not me" above, but those so saying I think are experiencing a colored disjoint of their own (though not so literally). It's not really a test of ideology or belief, but of cultural context. Not "are" you red or blue, but do you reside in a red or blue "zone". It doesn't really test knowledge, it presents cultural clues that roll-up sample probabilities suggesting a red/blue zone locale - geographical or mental. I don't watch college football, NASCAR or country music videos but my day-to-day in Texas absorbs enough flavor for a lite red sauce.

What I find interesting is that it does a pretty fair job of dropping one in a zone even when one's personal ideology doesn't the normative assoications of conversative or liberal to red or blue. Yeah, I live in the Red of Texas, but the only time my mental perspective approaches "Bush-Red" is when I read the headlines.

I'm not saying this "test" in any sense represents a formal analysis or even classification, but it quite cleverly suggests the major colors of the flag. It would be interesting to see how the results scale with larger samples and how much cultural granularity you get out and with what sample size (if even possible).

posted by: Jon on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

right in the middle. born in Boston, raised Boston suburbs, schooled in Manhattan (Columbia & NYU) - that's how i know LIRR and difference between coop and condo, worked in CT, retired to ME (why i don't live near a Wal-Mart super center); but right in the middle because did not know what many of the Q's were about and left them blank. firmly believe that auto racing is not a sport and that country music since Hank Williams, with few honorable exceptions such as Merle Haggard - "Okie from Muscogee" is a great song that fits W's chosen identity like a glove, and Johnny Cash, is mostly drivel. I'm an old man and spent most of my life in a world where "Reds" denoted commies and "Blue" was another name for Tory conservatives who were born to rule. There is a reason why Harvard's color is "crimson" (fancy word for red to disguise Harvard's goal of socialising the USA) and that of Yale and Columbia is blue (note that Yale's is a true blue while Columbia's is wimpier pale blue). appropriately, NYU's color is purple to reflect its commie law school and capitalist B school.

posted by: jim linnane on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

This was an interesting experiment for me since I don't live in the States. I am a dual US/Canadian citizen who has lived outside of the States for most of my life, and spent a lot of time in Europe. While in the U.S.A. I have only ever lived in Washington DC and its Maryland suburbs, although I have travelled a lot in New England. Not surprisingly, I have little-to-nothing in the way of supposed "Red State" cultural knowledge (e.g. NASCAR, country, etc.) Even so, I still came out in the middle, although with a slight blue tint. I strongly suspect that the distribution of the results is "bell curve" shaped, perhaps even more spiked than a normal distribution.

posted by: american in europe on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Right smack in the middle.

Blue resume, red spirit.

Enjoyed the quiz.

posted by: David M on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Slightly Red but, as with the others, I'm a bit skeptical of the quiz. Plus, it's too damned long, weeding out all but the most patient.

posted by: James Joyner on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

A fine test this was for white Anglophone Americans who have never visited the west coast.

I still haven't figured out how the Door County question got in there. Anyone can see by its location that it's a green-and-gold part of the country, but I doubt very many people outside of Wisconsin and the Chicagoland area (which sends most of the tourists and vacationers to Door Co.) have ever heard of the place.

posted by: Zathras on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

My findings about the quiz are that the popup window wasn't able to fit in an 800x600 screen, and wasn't resizable, and thus whoever coded it should be fired or at least severely reprimanded with a note added to the personnel file. Typical piece-of-crap Microsoft website.

Hey, anybody else go to the Wal-Mart website to find out how close the nearest Wal-Mart Supercenter to them is? The closest one to my apartment is 45 miles away, it turns out.

posted by: Combustible Boy on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Middle of red, which is pretty far off, in my view. Way too much 'red' credit for knowing who wrote Revelation, even having some notion of who's in the Big 12? I can see knowing Daddy Earnhardt's Nascar logo as pushing me red (you just absorb some of that working around folks), but so many of the other ones were just general knowledge, yet they seemed to skew red, to me.

posted by: drinkof on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

The test had some poor questions. The "Quad Cities" question was dumb, and as I recall there were a couple of other throwaways. But the silliest one is the True Grit/Annie Hall Red/Blue comparison at the end; many "Blueish" film buffs (like me) would buy TG and not buy AH. So there's two questions where your answers can alter your score totally in the reverse of the quiz's intent. A better comparision might have been something like Top Gun or State of Siege with a foreign film - Kieslowski's Bleu (or Rouge), perhaps?

posted by: w. e. on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I have never fired a gun but support the right to bear arms. I do not eat brisket with any of those things. I have read that it is not considered fashionable for women to wear white hose. I like country music yet have never been to Branson, MO nor would I like such a place. I watch the West Wing though I would never vote for a politician with Bartlett's views. So, am I a hick or a sophisticate? (That is what Red and Blue mean to people at Slate.)

Here’s another one – I’m an atheist but also I know that the Eight Commandment (Question #17) says “thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor” and that none of the answers Slate offered were correct.

posted by: Thorley Winston on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Nevermind, I spoke too soon and apparently there may be three different ordering of the Ten Commandments

posted by: Thorley Winston on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Being a "blue" living in Wisconsin, you can't help but get the red answers right for the Quad Cities, Door County, and da U.P.

posted by: cc on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I'm a third of the way into the red zone, which is nonsense - I self identify as a left-leaning centrist. I expected to be anywhere on the blue side of the middle.

But I grew up in the South, never lived in a big city and know plenty of trivia. Guess that's it.

posted by: bg on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

"It's time to get out of the sun. You're looking a little red."

I got that result without answering around 12 questions as I had no idea what they were talking about.

As to the Wal-Mart Supercenter question, I live within 6 miles of one, and 8 miles of another. I live a mere 4 miles from a regular Wal-Mart Store. There is a third Wal-Mart Supercenter 14 miles away, and four other regular Wal-Mart Stores between 10 and 11 miles away.

And yes, I have no idea what this quiz means either.

posted by: Hal Duston on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Yeah, I was told to get out of the sun, too (#@&!! test).

I'm a gun totin', truck drivin', meat eatin', white undershirt liberal who races bicycles, writes music and plays chess (you read that right). I'm not sure what planet I'm from.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

It seems an attempt to show that Red/Blue is not based on ideas but on what popular culture you're in. Especially if you're one of those benighted fools in the Red States.

Mildly red, by the way, and this NH mill-city boy got there by knowing geographical quirks in the US. Not a very good basis for political definition, I don't think.

Tangent: The SAT's are criticized for reflecting a particular culture in its vocabulary, and the word "regatta" is often used as a particularly egregious example. After all, goes the reasoning, how many city blacks know what a regatta is? If the city is Boston, NY, Philly, Oakland, or any other coastal city, probably more than white kids in Fargo do. These cultural identifiers usually posess only an initial appearance of validity.

posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Hanging on 66% toward the red end, surprisingly.

posted by: The Messenger on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Bogus Poll
I end up reddish - I am actually quite liberal - ani-war - pro universal health care - pro education funding - gun control advocate.
Hell, I should be electric blue.

posted by: Rik@work on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

I'm inclined to agree with a number of other posters. "LIRR" = Long Island Rail Road makes you "blue" but knowledge of the Big 12 or the geography of the midwest makes you "red." And c'mon, it's UPI, isn't it?

Not only that, but the Quad Cities, Door County, and Da Yoop are ALL in states that went for Mr Gore in 2000. Jeeze.

posted by: Stephen Karlson on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

As with Daniel, in the middle, permitted to live in both places.
Now, how can I get the INS to agree?

posted by: Tim Worstall on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

PUCE?!?! What the hell kinda result is PUCE???

BTW Assistant Village Idiot (great name), speaking of words on the SAT, you used the word "egregious" (technically) incorrectly...of course only .01% of the population knows that "egregious" is a POSITIVE modifier, not a negative one. It means distinguished, surpassing, excellent, eminent. Absorbed into English from the Latin, egregius,-a, -um. ex gregi: out of the herd. "I have an egregious vocabulary." (yeah thanks to the one semester of latin you took! Shut up!)

posted by: EGC on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

Is funny how people complain about Kerry's voting record during the past year. What if he missed 95%of the votes? After all, he represents the people of Massachusetts. I am quite sure that they are happy with Kerry running for president and trying to unsit a despised president.

posted by: MK on 07.15.04 at 02:18 PM [permalink]

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