Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The shift in voting.

Razib has (as usual) an interesting piece that only makes me think more about race and voting. Linking to the NYTimes (but not to anyplace in particular), he shows a graphic of how people voted in 2008's presidential race in relation to the 2004 race, by county.

Two things are clear to me (and to him). The first thing that is apparent to me is that - holy fuck - Indiana shifted overwhelmingly toward Democrats! This state hasn't voted Democratic for decades, the rate to which they didn't vote Democratic is indicated by the fact that although Obama was able to shift their vote by upwards of 20%+ in much of the state, he just barely won the state (1,367,264 for Obama vs. 1,341,101 for McCain and 29,186 for "Other" -- just over 26,000 votes between the two -- meaning that if Indianans voted McCain instead of "Other", then Obama would have not won Indiana, even though he shifted the state 20%+ toward the Democrats!!)

The second is that large parts of the traditional "South" and parts of Appalachia went more Republican than much of the rest of the country. (I'm not including Arizona and Alaska here, since these two states are where John McCain and Sarah Palin, respectively, are from.) Remember, if a county is shifted toward a grey-like color, then it didn't change it's voting standard by much this year around (0-4.9% change since 2004). That means that large parts of the country voted 5-19.9% Democratic than in 2004, and almost all of Indiana voted 20%+ more Democratic than 2004! Other places that changed more than 20% toward the Dems include much of the Texas-Mexico border counties, western Montana, eastern North Dakota, New Hampshire, and parts of New Mexico. However, it seems like much of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and (especially) Arkansas and West Virgina voted for the Republican in even greater numbers than they did when the country re-elected Bush in 2004. The deep-red of Arkansas and West Virginia (20%+ shift Republican) indicates that many more people had to have voted Democrat that voted Republican in this election. The question is, "WHY?"

Well, Razib thinks it might have to do with race:
If you filtered out blacks I'm pretty sure that the swath of red would be far more discernible in the South.* The blue patches match up very well with the Black Belt. It looks like the East South Central Census division, the core of Old Dixie is for now the Other America, along with parts of Appalachia.

I spot checked 2004 exits and compared them to this year. Whites in the deep South seem to have shifted Republican against the national trend. We're back to old school sectionalism, but now blacks can vote. People have said that the white vote barely budged; I don't think that's true, Southern and non-Southern whites shifted in different directions and balanced out. That's not a trivial detail.
I think that while it might have to do with race, it may also have to do with the GOP campaign whipping up such a partisan campaign in the last few weeks as to make the atmosphere in Palin's "real America" a poisonous one, and - might I add - one smacking of more than just a splash of racism. That McCain would be openly boo-ed during his concession speech when he first mentioned Obama gave me serious pause after all the shouted commentary from the campaign trail about, "Kill him!" and "Terrorist" and "He scares me" etc., alongside the (luckily) foiled neo-Nazi serial murder plot, the (still apparently baseless) GOP attacks on ACORN's voter-registration drives, accounts of voter intimidation, and attempts of disenfranchising Democratic voters from their right to vote. All of these took place during the last few weeks of the campaign, tacitly condoned by McCain, egged on by Palin and Joe-the-Plumber. (I'll admit that I watched Obama's acceptance speech with the fear that someone would use the setting as a perfect one for a televised attempt on his life.) I personally feel that large parts of the American population have been "broken" by the GOP election campaign, and - like many small shop owners - I say, "You broke it, you own it. Pay up." I feel that the GOP election campaign should the time and effort to campaign in those states where they so heavily campaigned for their vision of a "true America" to help heal the wounds that their divisive campaign had caused. However, that's not going to happen. Sarah Palin - in a post-election interview - said this:

I can’t wait to get back to work full-time, which we’ve been continuing to do as governor of Alaska, but there in Alaska. ... Don’t know what the heck’s gonna happen in 2012, again just very anxious to, um, get back to work there in Anchorange and in Juneau, making sure that the people of Alaska are well-served. ... [It's] time to move forward, move on. I certainly am not one to ever waste time looking backwards, pointing fingers and playing the blame game – I’m not going to participate in that at all.There are good things in store for this nation, and we’re only going to get there in reaching America’s destiny if we all unite, work together, and, um, certainly put aside the pettiness and obsessive partisanship that just gets in the way of doing what’s right for the people of America. So I won’t participate in any of the negativity.
She's not going going to "waste time" looking backwards? She's not going to "participate in any of the negativity"? She's just "can't wait" to get the frick outta Dodge, leaving  her own steaming pile of hate and soreness behind? 'Coz that's the right thing to do...

I'm going to let the social scientists analyze the crap out of this election, what happened leading up to it, why people are sore afterwards, and let them decide whether McCain/Palin are ultimately responsible for creating an image of a divided America of "us 'real' folk" vs "those 'liberal, elitist, uppity, socialist, communist, fascist, god-hating, take-your-guns, baby-killing, effete, soft-on-terror, Iran-loving, Al-Qaeda-colluding, San Francisco-value' non-Americans". (I think they are. It's irresponsible to do that to form of fear-mongering and hate-sowing to a single person. It's even more irresponsible to do that to a group of people you supposedly want to help.)

No comments: