Jon: Correlation?

Regardless of Obama and Mccain’s individual  positive and negative political aspects, obviously many circumstantial qualities came into play for voters when deciding on whom to elect. There was Mccain’s age, Obama’s name, Palin’s sexy legs, and Biden’s zombie like personality. The most powerful of all though was the fact that Obama is black.

But how much of an effect did  this really have on voters? I think the following maps make a really compelling case that, at least in the bible belt and non-coastal south, race was a big deal breaker for several white voters.

This first map shows all the places in country where people voted for a Republican candidate in greater numbers this election compared to 2004. So basically, the red parts are where people who voted for Kerry in 2004, but Mccain in 2008 live as well as areas where large numbers of first time Republican voters reside.  



This second map displays where in the country the largest concentration of black people live. The red areas are the most densely populated.


There are a lot of ways of interpreting this data, but it is undeniable that the two maps seem to fit together like puzzle pieces. To me this is strong evidense that race played a big part both in how people voted, and how urgently they felt the need to register for the first time.



5 Responses to “Jon: Correlation?”

  1. November 8, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I agree that race was very significant in this election.

    I think a lot of the media’s post-election coverage has failed to address the racial issues that played a really significant role. Leading up to the election there was a lot of discussion of whether white voters (and to a lesser degree Hispanic voters) would vote for an African American. Then when Obama won the election the reaction was more or less “Americans aren’t as racist as predicted!” I think this interpretation is really faulty. The fact remains that while the majority of Hispanic voters did vote for him, the majority of white voters voted for McCain. What really helped Obama to get elected was a substantial turnout of people of color, the vast majority of whom voted for him.

    I do think that this is suggestive of progress. It’s awesome that so many people of color felt compelled to vote, and that their votes were counted. I would like to see more focus on that in the news.

  2. 2 The Bearded Traveler
    November 9, 2008 at 8:06 am

    How about race in the Prop 8 vote?

    I heard about it twice. Once on the podcast Trans-Ponder (hosted by Mila & Jayna),
    and then flipping by a radio show I generally detest, Tom Leykis, the other night.

    Jayna was talking about Prop 8 offices that hadn’t printed up ANY “No On 8” signs
    in Spanish, things like that giving the impression that gay rights are white-middle-
    class rights (I think in HRC’s case, that’d be “white upper-middle class gay men who
    look ‘normal'”… okay, so I have beefs with HRC, dissing trans people among them).

    Like I said, I hate Leykis, he always came off as the most sexist bastard to me, but
    I was flipping to the station the other night hoping to hear Mike O’Meara (a show from
    my home area; used to listen to Don & Mike in high school), and Leykis was on, and had
    a gay caller who was giving it to minorities pretty hard for voting Yes On 8. Tom then
    took a black caller who said HE had voted against Prop 8, but that it was anti-8 people’s
    fault for not talking about the greater LEGAL implications and rights that would be limited, but rather just talked in vagueries of “we wanna marry too” and “we want rights,” rather
    than hospital caretakership authority for people in comas or dying, legal wills, business things, etc.
    I thought that was interesting. I was frankly angry at blacks and Latinos when I first
    heard Prop 8 stats. I wrote it off to cultural machismo and religious belief creating a
    sort of perfect storm of ignorant indifference at first. but certainly, the anti-8 ads
    I saw on YouTube (which wasn’t comprehensive) were cutesy… and machismo and religion
    aren’t limited to minority communities. This country was founded by religious people and
    machismo is a widespread American male state of mind, really.

    I of course EXPECTED a map like those you show here. I think you heard keywords like
    “arrogant” applied to Obama because the people who used them knew that “uppity” was
    already tainted with their true motivation, racism, so they looked for softer words.
    Same with the “He’s a muslim” thing; like it made any difference. These were people
    who’d vote for Romney or Lieberman, whose religions are as related to most people’s
    churches as Islam is. They’re ALL related. “Muslim” was just a codeword for “foreign”
    and “not white.”

    One of the things I’ve found interesting all along is that Obama IS NOT BLACK, he is
    HALF-black, but people NEVER make the distinction. I think it’s because 1) he “looks
    black” and that’s all that matters to people 2) attaching “half-” to anything has this
    weird tint of racism to it, this harshness, even when none is intended. Part of me is a
    stickler for details who is bothered by the simple use of “black” for Obama, but then
    the other part of me says, “Who cares what ‘race’ anyone is? We’re all genetically-related
    and race is a construct based on little science or set characteristics.”
    As a general rule, though, you can’t talk about race openly and frankly. People are often
    afraid to say anything.

  3. 3 gaycondo
    November 10, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    I think it’s unfair to blame the no on 8 campaign for the defeat. In hindsight they had a tough job and perhaps they could have some things differently, perhaps they could have reached out to demographics they ignored and won. It’s a pretty big if, though. I think that the major issue is that the CA Supreme Court decided this correctly. If adequately explained it should make sense any thinking person, denying us the right to marry violates the equal protection clause of the constitution. Providing a separate category such as domestic partnerships or civil unions is separate and inherently unequal. Opponents have no real argument other than blatant discrimination or biblical references that are also unconsititional – I’d argue a majority of Christians typically don’t get the idea of separating church and state.

    Average people are not constitutional scholars, they are probably homophobes to varying degrees. We need a judiciary who are not politically motivated or biased. We need the CA Supreme Court to again show leadership by overruling the bigoted voters and saying that they cannot deny certain citizens their constitutional rights by a simple majority vote -They decided it right the first time and if they stick by it again it will give the necessary precendent and leadership to states like Oregon with similar constitional amendments (almost alway decided by ballot initiatives) toward getting rid of them.

    Talking about the racial or other demographics of the vote is a diversion. It is a tactic that doesn’t help racial or sexual minorities and I think we should put an end to it. That said, I think any effort on the part of either side to reach out to the other would be constructive for both. Pitting one against the other is a waste of everyone’s time.

  4. 4 The Bearded Traveler
    November 17, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I just wanted to follow up with an article that straightened things out for,
    and then some, about demographics in the vote:


  5. 5 Bill
    November 18, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Hi Jon,

    While I very much believe that race was a factor in this last election, I would like you to read this article that helps explain the first map you showed and is one of the best political pieces that I have read (and I have read a few). IT is a blog on Slate by Bill Bishop entitled “No, We Didn’t: America Hasn’t Changed as Much as Tuesday’s Results Would Indicate” and can be found here http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/bigsort/default.aspx

    Again polling anaylsis definitely says that race was a factor in this last election, but I still very much like this article and think it also contributes to the discussion of that particular map.


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