Monday, September 1, 2014

Blue states watch more porn than red states

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attends a meeting of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House February 27, 2012. Photo by Chip Somoda, Getty Images

Update: Originally this post claimed that Kansas had the highest traffic to Pornhub of any state. This is apparently explained by the vagaries of IP-based geolocation, wherein undefined locales default to the center of the country (Wichita, Kansas). Our apologies. Keep in mind that this is all IP-based when you're analyzing the data here.

Pornhub.com, the third-largest porn site in the US and 51st largest site overall according to Alexa, made a bit of a stir last month when it found that every single Southern state searched more for gay male porn (as a share of total searches) than the states where gay marriage is legal did, on average. But when it comes to porn generally, blue America still dominates. Pornhub reports that blue states averaged 137 page views per capita over the twelve month period they analyzed, while red states average 121. It's a sufficiently strong association that looking at Pornhub usage alone correctly predicts the outcome in 9 out 12 swing states in the 2012 election.

The Washington Post's Chris Ingraham helpfully made a scatterplot showing each state's Pornhub consumption rate against the vote share Barack Obama got in 2012:

Ingraham_porn Overall, the trend line suggests that page views rise with support for Obama. But far and away the biggest Pornhub fan among the states was Kansas (although, as explained above, this is appears to mainly be a matter of IP quirks).

Of course, Pornhub is only one content provider and there's a wide world of internet porn out there that its sample is not capturing. But there's cause to take site-provided data somewhat more seriously than survey data on this particular issue, given its sensitivity and people's inclination to lie about their consumption habits. A recent Pew survey found that only 25 percent of men and 8 percent of women admit to watching "adult videos," which seems…low. Traffic data is limited in scope, but isn't prone to that kind of response bias.

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