High On Obama

Here's incontrovertible evidence that Democrats are hippies and libertines: demographer, urban theorist, and Altantic Correspondents blogger Richard Florida finds that marijuana and cocaine use rates are higher in states that voted for Obama in November...and, more notably, that more votes for Obama actually correlate to more residents who use marijuana and cocaine.

A greater percentage of the vote for John McCain, conversely, correlates to less marijuana and cocaine use in states.

Florida's goal is to study drug use as a function of socio-psychological factors, politics being one of them. There are many reasons to doubt the simplistic conclusion that Democrats' social liberalism means drug use, and causation of phenomena like drug use is complex. Fewer people have tried marijuana in the Netherlands, percentage-wise, than in the U.S., after all. And more drug users themselves, for instance, (typically below 10 percent of state populations) very well could have voted for McCain--there's no way to know.

Other cultural/environmental factors associated with an Obama victory may lead to more drug use, in a completely unrelated way. Point being: the socio-psychology of why people vote (or don't vote) the way they do is complex enough, without trying to draw a connection to another socio-psychological effect, like marijuana or cocaine use.

Lest anyone draw that black-and-white conclusion abruptly, Florida writes:

Conservative commentators might take this as evidence of the anything-goes, libertine lifestyles of "latte liberals" and of the need to return to more traditional, "all-American," working class values. But that misses the bigger point. There are real differences in the economic and social environments of blue and red states, as John Judis and Ruy Teixeira's Emerging Democratic Majority, and Andrew Gelman and his collaborator's Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, along with other studies, have shown--particularly in their levels of development, economic, and occupational structure, and, I would add, in their psycho-social environments as well.

And Florida stresses that these are "provisional results which point to general relationships--or should I say associations--which could have many causes."

Obama's home state of Hawaii, where the president actually tried marijuana and cocaine, is an anomaly in Florida's finding; it's in the lowest quartile of use for both of those drugs, and it supported Obama heavily in 2008.

See Florida's post for more detailed explanation, correlation coefficients, and charts.