Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Political Divide: Funding for NSF Social-Science Reseach Programs

The political scientist Brendan Nyhan has an interesting post concerning the Senate's vote on Senator Coburn's proposal to defund all political science programs at the National Science Foundation. The proposal failed by a 62-36 vote. The following graph (a Lewis-Poole Optimal Classification Estimate) contains a best fit line dividing yea from nay votes. Blue is for Demos and Red is for Repubs. Dark blue marks Demo nay votes; light blue marks Demo yae votes; dark red marks Repub nay votes; light red marks Repub yea votes. Do you think ideology played a role? (NSF political science programs as "wasteful government spending" that increases the national debt to be paid by our grandchildren, or subsidies to liberal academics) One could, on the merits, argue that social-science research is not the kind of real science the NSF should support. However, one would not expect such a clear political division on the merits.

Hat tip to Kevin Drum at Mother Jones via  Marginal Revolution.

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