Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alaska in Gallup Polls

Sociologists love polls. I mean we really, REALLY love polls. I, personally, am like a kitten in a catnip store when it comes to polls. The Gallup Organization constantly does polls and they organize their data into neat little charts and cool interactive tables that make the data easy to consume. So the Gallup Poll site is one of my most frequently visited sites.

Gallup often posts State of the States data, and of course I always look at Alaska. Click here and then click on Alaska. You can click on the header on the table and see how Alaska ranks on several variables. Some curious patterns emerge:
--Alaska is the 4th most Republican state
--Alaska is the 6th most liberal state
--more people in Alaska approve of Obama than disapprove
--Alaskans' confidence in our economic situation is way above the national average, and in fact is only 9th from the top--but our economic confidence is still negative
--Alaskans are above the national average in their satisfaction about their current standard of living
--Alaska employers are letting fewer workers go (aka eliminating jobs) than the national average
--emotionally speaking, Alaskans are the third healthiest in the nation
--we're only in the mid-range when it comes to physical health
--we're near the bottom in being able to access basic necessities

How can the three sociological paradigms (CPC, SI, and SF) and the sociological imagination help us make sense of these conflicting data? For example, why is it that Alaskans can rank near the bottom in being able to obtain basic necessities but rank near the top in emotional health? How can we be so Republican and still be so liberal? Sociologists may not have all the answers to these puzzles (yet), but you have to admit that the questions are fascinating!

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