Does the board lean left? (This is not a pit thread!)

I’m purposely posting this in IMHO because this is a poll of sorts and I’d like to ask posters to refrain from posting in a manner that will get his moved to the Pit.

This was inspired by some comments in a recent thread.

I am going to assume that Starving Artist was employing hyperbole here and that he doesn’t really believe that there is no such thing as moderates and that there are 49 liberals here for every conservative. However, I am interested to know if we can resolve the issue of the leanings of this board.

I feel that trying to count the number of posters of each political leaning would not give us a good measure of the political sway of the board since there are so many registered members that do not post. I think a random sampling of recent posts would give us a clearer picture. To this end I went to every forum and recorded the name of the person who last posted to each thread excluding stickies. This is not a perfectly random sampling of recent posts, but I feel like this should be close enough.

This yielded 371 non-unique poster names. I decided to keep duplicates in the list because more prolific posters have a larger effect on how people perceive the board. I’m pretty sure no one wants to look at all 371 so I used a random number generator to select 50 names from the list.

They are as follows:

1920s Style "Death Ray"
Cider Depot
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
Elendil's Heir
even sven
First Amongst Daves
Girl From Mars
Least Original User Name Ever
Mahna Mahna
neutron star
Skald the Rhymer
The Tao's Revenge
The Tao's Revenge
Vox Imperatoris

There are certainly vocal lefties and righties this list, but for most of the posters I have no idea how they swing. My hypothesis is that the board is overwhelmingly moderate/apolitical.

I am willing to discuss the possibility that my methodology is flawed and would love to discuss ways to improve it with those who are so inclined. I’d also love to hear from the posters whose names were selected about their political leanings if they would not mind sharing (this is the part of the thread that’s a poll).

I would like to avoid unsubstantiated opinions and, if at all possible, snark.

Finally, I do not expect this to be the final determining factor in any argument about the board’s politics. I merely hope that this can serve as a stepping stone to quantifying this issue.

Cool, I’m on a list.

I’m pretty damn far left.

Here’s the results of the SDMB political compass test:

Liberals are the majority with libertarians second. Republicans (upper right) are fairly non-existent.

ETA: I don’t know what collecting a list of names is meant to achieve, without figuring out their leaning.

That’s interesting, but the problem I have with that is that the sample was self-selected. I think there’s a lot of people that would fall right in the middle that would not have bothered to take the poll.

The list of names is snapshot of the current face of the board but by itself it can achieve nothing. What I’d really like is for the people on the list to check in (thanks myskepticsight) and let me know how they lean or if they are moderate/apolitical. If I can get their (or most of their) cooperation then we can get an more complete picture of the board’s make up.

In terms of American political positions, I’d say it’s reasonable to say that the board leans left (although there are right-wingers who consider any forum where the tiniest speck of non-conservative expression exists to be infested with ‘liberal bias’)

But American politics is all pretty much on the right-hand-side of the global spectrum. We don’t have much Left Wing here in the UK any more, but from here, I can’t see any significant differences between the American political parties - they both look like the conservative party from over here.

It’s not as if any political views are explicitly censored here, so I don’t think the board itself has any specific political leaning.

I’ll check in: Disappointed Kucinich voter here. I tend left of standard Democrat, but Barry’s alright.

I guess I’m trying to figure out if it is, in fact, a reasonable thing to say that the board leans left. Also, it might be nice to have some idea to what degree it leans if any. Is it farther left than the Tower of Pisa (when viewed from the angle that makes the tower appear to lean most left I assume)? Are there approximately 49 liberals for every conservative? This is what I’m trying to figure out.

This is an excellent point. Assume for the purposes of this poll that I mean the USA definitions of left and right.

I did think of a couple flaws with my methods, but I’d like to continue this experiment anyway.

Flaw 1: Disingenuous voters. With this small sample size it won’t take that many to seriously skew the results (in what direction, I can’t guess). All I can ask is that you please be honest.

Flaw 2: I haven’t figured out how to deal with nonrespondants. In my mind the people who are least likely to respond are apolitical, but I don’t know if it is safe to assume that all non-respondants are apolitical. Depending on how this is handled (suggestions?) it could have an effect on how big the apolitical slice of the pie is.

Flaw 3: Using the name of the last poster of every thread might give more weight to posters who post in unpopular threads. Politically charged threads tend to be popular. A better way to generate the list might be to randomly access the forum list page (where this random reflects board traffic at different times of the day) and then random a forum (where this random reflects the popularity of the forum) and choose the name of the most recent poster in that forum. That sounds hard though. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Finally, thanks for checking in capybara. Two down 48 to go. At this early stage, the board is leaning 100% left, but it’s too early to call it.

Yes! Leftist-leaning art historians (and former supporters of Kucinich) of the board, unite!

That group might just consist of the two of us, however.

Regarding the overall board composition, I’d agree with the OP that it’s largely apolitical. It’s a different story in Great Debates, of course, where most posters are naturally quite passionately partisan.

Even there, however, I’d question Starving Artist’s statistics. The libertarians (who I’d say are a bit over-represented on this board, compared to U.S. society in general) will blend in a bit with the left-leaning posters when it comes to social issues, but if the thread is about, say, free-market economics or Marxism, they (the libertarians) are clearly on the right-side of the spectrum.

From my perspective (way out on the left, farther than most other posters), the board is largely centrist, with only a few posters leaning decisively to the left, and even fewer to the right… I’d say (using no verifiable methodology whatsoever) that the percentages break down along the lines of 20% “leftist” [both socially and economically] 40% “centrist [moderate on economic issues, but leaning left on social issues],” 30% “libertarian [socially liberal/fiscally conservative],” and 10% “social conservative.”

So, I’d say it’s more 60% liberal (with a large dose of moderates) and 40% conservative (with lots of libertarians). Maybe that doesn’t square perfectly with U.S. society in general, but it’s not too far off.

But that only applies to politically-affiliated Dopers. I’d break down the general population to 80% apolitical and 20% political.

I’d break down those numbers further, but that’s just too much math for an art historian to attempt…

In my opinion, it’s more like 70%liberal and 30% conservative.

But then, that’s just a wild guess, based on the number of times I roll my eyes at the left-wing nuts, versus the number of times I roll my eyes at the right-wing nuts. :rolleyes:

Personally, I consider myself slightly right-of-center. I am weakly liberal on a lot of minor issues, and strongly conservative on a few big issues. I think Götterfunken might consider me a libertarian. Though I doubt I would last long at a Libertarian Party convention.

OK, since I somehow ended up on the list: I’m definitely right of center, but am more libertarian than conservative/Republican.

I’d say more like 1-2% socially conservative, using my very own pulled-from-my-ass metric. At one time it might have been 3-5% or so, but it was never a terribly well-represented demographic here. Loosely defined ( or self-identifying ) libertarians on the other hand are almost certainly a bit over-represented here relative to the general American population. Meanwhile genuine Marxists are vanishingly rare ( as they are in American society generally, these days ).

If we took an overall average by combining every single Doper into one squirming amoebic blob, I suspect ( and I believe others have come to the same conclusion in similar past threads ) we’d skew socially liberal and economically moderate. Of course the devil is always in the details.

Thanks for responding and I loved you in Symphony in Black.

a) There’s a lot of people on either side that would not have bothered to take the poll. I don’t see any reason to think that anyone of any political bent would be more or less likely to answer a poll.
b) The spread has a fairly clear central mass, direction of smear, and die-off. If the “center” was less likely to poll, you’d expect a ring around it, not a nice even die off running through.

Being in the center doesn’t mean you’re apolitical. Usually it means that you think that both sides are stupid and randomly choose which side to take on an issue instead of logic.

I’d say we lean pretty perceptively left, but many of the more vocal conservatives here have persecution complexes (and the liberals smug righteousness) when it comes to their politics, and I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near as drastic as they would like for you to believe.

I’d say I’m a moderate Democrat, for what it’s worth.

I think, but I could be wrong, that people who don’t care about politics at all are far less likely to take a politcal poll.

I don’t think you can say this without knowing both how many people are moderate/apolitical and their response rate. 10000 people with a 1% response rate and 100 people with a 10% response rate would look the same in that picture.

I’m assuming that randomly choosing sides on an issues would tend to average out and give approximately the same result as not caring about any issue. This may be an incorrect assumption and I will listen to an argument to the contrary.

So I still think the other poll does not how the whole picture, but I have not closed my mind to the possibility of my being wrong.

Sage Rat, do you have any thoughts on my poll? Do you think it will show anything at all? How would you improve it?

This place leans so far to the left that it just ain’t right.

Actually, yes, the Tower of Pisa does tilt left, but only if you stand on one side of it. If you stand on the other side, it tilts decidedly to the right!

I certainly hope this board tilts to the left. It’s why I keep coming back.

Hmmm … it’s the most intelligent group of people I’ve ever met on the internet AND it is decidedly liberal. What could that possibly mean, I wonder?

It’s all a perspective thing. I lean left. So far so that to me liberals (even Kucinich) are centre-right. To me that makes most of the board look rightward leaning. So someone diametrically opposite me the reverse will be true

People who don’t care about politics are most likely to be liberal presuming that apoliticism is linked to intelligence.

Minus that presumption, it would still be fairly likely that apoliticals are fairly well spread among all parties. Everyone thinks they’re right and the world should be the way they think it should be. People who are “political” simply pick up actual talking points instead of bluffing their way through.