Browsing the archives for the race tag.

Janus face

Politics, US Politics
(Image shared under CC-license by Judith Green)

(Image shared under CC-license by Judith Green)

How odd that the election of the new chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) should end in a dead heat between a Southern, “true” conservative who had to admit only just having left a whites-only country club, and a black Republican from Maryland who stood accused of being too moderate.

Kudos to the Republicans for recognizing just in time which way political suicide laid, and turning the other way at the last moment. All the sordid details about Michael Steele’s narrow victory over Katon Dawson and the terminally slow drop-outs of all the other candidates in a surprisingly enjoyable Twitter feed from the WaPo’s Chris Cillizza.

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Washington DC, the inaugural address – ninetynine years ago

Culture, History, Politics, US culture, US Politics

The inauguration speech, to the year one century ago:

Hence it is clear to all that the domination of an ignorant, irresponsible element can be prevented by constitutional laws which shall exclude from voting both negroes and whites not having education or other qualifications thought to be necessary for a proper electorate. The danger of the control of an ignorant electorate has therefore passed. With this change, the interest which many of the Southern white citizens take in the welfare of the negroes has increased. The colored men must base their hope on the results of their own industry, self-restraint, thrift, and business success, as well as upon the aid and comfort and sympathy which they may receive from their white neighbors of the South. [..]

There is in the South a stronger feeling than ever among the intelligent well-to-do, and influential element in favor of the industrial education of the negro and the encouragement of the race to make themselves useful members of the community. The progress which the negro has made in the last fifty years, from slavery [..], is marvelous, and it furnishes every reason to hope that in the next twenty-five years a still greater improvement in his condition as a productive member of society, on the farm, and in the shop, and in other occupations may come.

This, it should be noted on behalf of William Taft, from a speech that spoke both of and for America’s blacks as no inaugural address before had done, and must to contemporary standards have pressed hard for their case.

America – as they say … you’ve come a long way, baby.

P.S. Explore past inaugural addresses with this nifty word analysis tool. “Locusts,” alas, appears only once, as in “We are stricken by no plague of locusts”.

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Of two minds about the South

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

In TNR, Clay Risen revisited the question of voting patterns in the South in this year’s presidential elections, and responded to a point of criticism I raised here on his previous take. Being an incurable nitpicker, I’m still not altogether convinced.

In his previous take, Risen justifiably sounded critical notes about how the South was presented in some of the electoral analysis, which was all about how its “backward ways are increasingly irrelevant to the American scene”. He pointed out that hey, in much of the South Obama actually did better than Kerry had done, thank you very much. The “red splotches” on the electoral map that showed a shift to McCain only covered a specific band of counties stretching from Kentucky to Oklahoma, while “across the “Deep South” [..] the map is almost entirely blue.” Ergo, what the map showed was “not a waning South, but a fissured and rapidly changing one”, and “what is really surprising is not how stalwart the South is in its ways” but “that broad swaths of the region look just like the rest of the country.”

The former is certainly a good point. My own stab at electoral analysis here highlighted how the Gulf states and Atlantic states seem to be heading down different paths altogether. But the latter point has a problem or two.

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Sarko’s Angels No More?

European Politics, Politics

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally shepherded three non-white women of immigrant background into his government in May 2007, it was a bold move; no government before, left or right, had been as inclusive. (To appreciate just how groundbreaking it was, read my previous post.) Not to mention that Fadela Amara is a Socialist.

Fadela Amara (Image under CC license from Flickr user h de c)

Fadela Amara (Image under CC license from Flickr user h de c)

In a government bureaucracy as status conscious as France’s, it was all the bolder because all three come from truly modest backgrounds. Fadela Amara, the long-time fighter for women’s rights in the impoverished suburbs, grew up as one of 11 brothers and sisters in what she describes as a shanty-town. Rachida Dati, the tenacious networker who shone as spokeswoman for Sarkozy’s 2006 presidential campaign, was one of 12 children of a Moroccan bricklayer. Rama Yade, just 30 when she was appointed, was the daughter of two influential Senegalese professors, but after their divorce her mother raised her in the towerblocks of Hauts-de-Seine. (Bonus trivia: as teenager, she only got to go on holidays thanks to the summer holiday camps which the communist French People’s Aid ran for the underprivileged).

It was a “fairytale”, as Guardian journalist Angelique Chrisafis called Dati’s story last month. But is it, now, as she put it, a fairytale that “has started to go spectacularly wrong”? “The rise and fall of Rachida Dati,” her article was called. This month sees a new article headlined “The rise and fall of Rama Yade“. So what happened?

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Obama’s victory confronts France with its own troubled status quo

Culture, European culture(s), European Politics, Politics

During the US presidential election campaign, Doug Saunders noted in the Canadian Globe & Mail last month, “the big question in Europe had been whether Mr. Obama’s liberalism connected to the values of the social democrats and socially moderate conservatives who tend to govern Europe. Was he good enough to be a European?” It was, in at least one major aspect, the wrong question. When it comes to race, Saunders pointed out, the question is rather the other way around. Would European voters have been able to do what American voters did? Would they measure up to the way Americans overcame racial prejudice in electing Obama?

There are some 5 million blacks in France and the UK alone; some 12 million across Europe. Arguably more marginalised still are the Muslims of Western Europe; the immigrants and children and grandchildren of immigrants from Northern Africa, Turkey and Pakistan. There are 7-10 million of those in France, Germany and the UK alone, with another 5 million spread elsewhere through Western Europe. So how about it? Could there be a European Obama?

Rama Yade (Image used under CC license from Flickr user philippe leroyer)

Rama Yade (Image used under CC license from Flickr user philippe leroyer)

No way, said France’s only black minister, Rama Yade in an interview with the Telegraph, at least not in France. Her country “will never elect its own Barack Obama under the current ageing, white political elite,” she said, calling the prospect a “pipe dream”. And this is not some cynical lefty talking; Yade is the secretary of state for human rights and foreign affairs in a conservative government, which she joined as something of a protege of President Sarkozy.

“I’m 51 and I’m sure I won’t see any Barack Obama in France in the next generation,” Saunders was told by Azouz Begag, who  served as Minister for Equal Opportunities under Jacques Chirac.

“Obama puts the political system in France on the hot seat,” Pap Ndiaye of the School for the Advanced Study of the Social Sciences in Paris told the Christian Science Monitor. His election “has a direct social effect in France, because the black youth think it is possible there but not here.”

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Selected exit poll comparisons, 2000-2004-2008

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

MALE VOTERS

Share of voters: 48% in 2000; 46% in 2004; 47% in 2008.

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FEMALE VOTERS

Share of voters: 52% in 2000; 54% in 2004; 53% in 2008.

Compared to John Kerry’s vote, Barack Obama gained about equal ground among both men and women. But compared to Al Gore’s performance, Obama gained much extra ground among men, but little among women.

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WHITE MEN

Share of voters: 39% in 2000; 36% in 2004; 36% in 2008.

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WHITE WOMEN

Share of voters: 42% in 2000; 41% in 2004; 39% in 2008.

The same distinction noted above is even more apparent among white men and women. Obama won 4-5 points among white men compared to both Gore and Kerry, but won only 2 among white women compared to Kerry, and actually did less well than Gore did. Turnout among white women was also weaker in proportion to turnout among white men than it was in 2004 (i.e, it was still higher, but less so.)

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BLACKS/AFRICAN-AMERICANS

Share of voters: 10% in 2000; 11% in 2004; 13% in 2008.

Speaks for itself. Note also the effect of the high turnout on the share of black voters in the electorate.

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LATINOS/HISPANICS

Share of voters: 7% in 2000; 8% in 2004; 9% in 2008.

Obama’s surge among Latinos this year (who said Hispanics would never vote for a black man?) has pushed the Republicans back to pre-2000 levels of support. On a side note, Latinos were among the very rare groups where the Nader candidacy still registered in 2004, possibly thanks to his VP candidate Peter Camejo.

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How did North Carolina end up the ultimate toss-up state? Reviewing county data

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

AP and NBC yesterday belatedly called North Carolina for Obama, making the state’s result the second last to come in. Only Missouri hadn’t been called yet. So how did it become so close? Facing South has a good summary up of the main strategical and political reasons. But I would like to look more specifically at the geography and demographics of the race.

For Obama to win the state required a 12.4% swing (that being the margin by which Bush was elected in 2004). He got a 12.6% swing. Which parts of the state pushed Obama over the line? Where did his efforts of persuasion fall short? What demographics were at play? An in-depth look.

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Massive early voting … the wonder, the worry, the role of race

Politics, Presidential Elections, US culture, US Elections, US Politics

WSB TV down in Georgia reports a story that’s at once heartwarming and horrifying: Clayton County voters on Monday, the first day of advance voting, stood in line for 12 hours to vote. Twelve hours!

While the polls officially closed at 7 p.m. Monday night [..], the line to vote at the Frank Bailey Senior Center in Riverdale didn’t clear up until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Clayton County voter Patricia Lewis finally voted in Riverdale after standing in line to vote for six hours. “I vote in every election and I couldn’t pass this one up. I think about my dad, about the struggles he went through and for me to vote again is just amazing,” Lewis. [..]

For much of the day, Clayton County voters stood in line for eight to nine hours to cast their ballots.

Channel 2 talked to one poll worker who worked an 18 hour shift. She still didn’t complain about the problems. She said she was just glad to see so many people interested in voting. “It makes me feel good,” said election worker Beatrice Lyons. “They can just come and stay all night and I’ll be right here.”

Lyons said she saw some people arrive at 1 p.m. Monday and they didn’t vote until 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Voting is fun! (Image used under CC license)

Voting is fun! (Image used under CC license)

Now those are moving stories, but once again I am just the foreigner with his mouth agape: how is this possible? I mean, I’m familiar enough with the election day reports to know that it’s fairly common for people in certain states and regions to have to wait in line for hours to vote – many hours sometimes. What’s the deal here – you’re the wealthiest country in the world, and you can’t set up enough polling stations to avoid making voters stand in line for hours on end to exercise their democratic rights?

The political salience of the story, meanwhile, is of course that this is not election day. Election day isn’t for another day. This is advance voting, and already people are standing in line for hours. What massive turnout is taking shape?

Daniel Nichanian at Campaign Diaries (where I got the above link from too) had some stunning numbers yesterday:

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WaPo/ABC Poll: the difference between white voters in the South and elsewhere

Politics, Presidential Elections, US culture, US Elections, US Politics

This bit of polling analysis caught my attention: Obama does well among whites, very, very well indeed. But with one glaring exception: the South. The Southern exception is alive and well:

Obama is outperforming any Democrat back to Jimmy Carter among white voters, getting 45 percent to McCain’s 52 percent. But in the South, it is a very different story. Obama fares worse among Southern whites than any Democrat since George McGovern in 1972.

My electoral map of how whites voted in 2004 already showed that when you single out white voters, it’s not Wyoming and Utah that are the most Republican states, it’s Mississippi, Alabama and South-Carolina. The latest ABC/WaPo poll suggests that even as whites across the country have been remarkably receptive to Obama’s message, those in the South are still very hostile:

Whites in the East and West tilt narrowly toward Obama (he’s up 8 and 7 points, respectively), and the two run about evenly among those in the Midwest. By contrast, Southern whites break more than 2 to 1 for McCain, 65 percent to 32 percent.

That stark divide is not simply a partisan difference. While white Democrats outside the South give Obama margins of 80 points or more, he leads by a more modest 65 points among white Southern Democrats. The Democrat is up 55 points among liberal whites in the region, far under his performance among those voters elsewhere, where he is up by 79 points.

Southern white independents are also far more likely than politically independent whites in other regions to support McCain: They break 62 to 33 percent in his favor. White independents in the West favor Obama by a similarly wide margin, 63 to 34 percent. White political independents in the East and Midwest divide much more evenly.

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The red and blue states of white* America (*and hispanic)

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

On his blog, Brian Beutler remarked upon the difference between the popular perception of California as a bastion of liberal group think and the reality:

California’s a much different kind of “blue” state than is, say, Massachusetts. The dense population centers outside of San Diego and Orange counties are liberal enough to give California’s electoral votes to the Democrats every four years. But for the most part the rest of the state is bright red.

He emphasised the stark contrast between blue and red counties and concluded that in this sense, aside from the San Diego and Orange counties, California “rightfully belongs” in the same category as Oregon and Washington.

While praising Beutler’s post, Ezra Klein offers a somewhat different take. There may be a real contrast between the blue coast and the red inlands, but what it’s informed by is primarily ethnic demography:

The state’s political transformation in recent years has been somewhat ideological, but it’s been much more demographic. Namely, it’s been driven by Latino immigration. Folks think of California and conflate its politics with San Francisco and Hollywood. White, affluent, cultural liberals. But that’s not why California is reliably blue. In 2004, Bush had a five percent margin among white voters.

This sets California apart from a state like Washington, he continues:

In the aggregate, whites everywhere are somewhat conservative. But in other liberal states, they really do swing left. In Washington, Kerry had a six percent advantage among whites. In Vermont, he had an 18 percent advantage. [..] California, by contrast, is a very Democratic state, but somewhat less coherently liberal. It’s solid blue because Latinos are solid blue, not because the place is packed with liberals.

This had me thinking. On a national electoral map, when placed on a scale from clear blue to bright red, California and Washington are the same pale blue. But if the white vote in those states differs so clearly, does it look different elsewhere too? How different would the map of red and blue states look when only showing the white vote?

The 2004 Presidential election – national vote (all groups)

This map of the 2004 election results is not the type youve seen everywhere: the country is not artificially divided up between blue and red states. Instead, it shows the degrees in between. A state where Bush won 100% would be fiery red, a state where Kerry won every vote would be the coolest blue, and a state where the vote was divided equally is white.

This map of the 2004 election results is not the usual type: the country is not artificially divided up between "blue" and "red" states. Instead, it shows the degrees in between. A state where Bush won 100% would be fiery red, a state where Kerry won every vote would be the coolest blue, and a state where the vote was divided equally is white.

Read on and view the map for white voters only beneath the fold.

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