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Red State = Red Light State?

A new study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives finds that areas in the US that are more conservative or religious than average tend to purchase more online pornography than average. Or as the author of the study puts it “Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by.”

Is anyone surprised that religious conservatives are the biggest purchasers of porn?  We all know that if you’re constantly told you can’t have or shouldn’t want something, you are invariably going to want it more. But this does put a wrench into arguments that religion makes people act more moral.

As a interesting side note, of the top ten states where people purchased online porn, eight of them voted for John McCain in the last election, while of the ten states that purchased the least amount of online porn, six of them went for Obama.



  1. Bill Markley wrote:

    I love the concept, but it could be that because of religious conservatism, other outlets for obtaining porn are restricted, and the internet is the only option available for those inclined to indulge. So the religious right might not be the actual consumers, but they force porn purchasing to be skewed toward the internet.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink
  2. Michael C wrote:

    I agree with Bill. Also, conservatives might not be accustomed to getting free porn or finding it online, which is probably harder to track.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink
  3. Daniel wrote:

    I came to say something similar to Mr. C. There is a comment that I read on a website some years ago that said, “Only fools and Republicans pay for porn.” Seriously, I think this data says more about the level of computer sophistication (which is directly related to educational level which is directly related to who voted for McCain) than it does porn consumption. Indeed, there are entire books on how porn drives much of the traffic on the Internet and all that traffic is not coming from Republicans.

    While this type of data might be very comforting to some people as it reinforces their own prejudices, that study was highly unscientific.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 11:20 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    You guys crack me up. Go read the study (I linked to it in the post). It was definitely not “highly unscientific”. And certainly not as unscientific as postulating that it is more difficult to find traditional (non-online) pornography in religiously conservative states. It is pretty easy to find porn anywhere in the USA.

    But I really got a giggle from Michael C’s and Daniel’s assertion that religious conservatives are paying for online porn because they are too stupid to find it for free. That should make religious conservatives feel much better!

    Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  5. Bump wrote:

    Well played Iron Knee. That is pretty funny.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink