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This Jews-Episcopalians-Puerto-Ricans Election

Ron Brownstein looks at an electorate in flux. [1] Excerpt:

Four years later, those dreams of realignment have, for now at least, turned to dust. After four grueling years of economic turbulence and partisan conflict, no one in either party expects Obama to consolidate a commanding new majority coalition this fall. Instead, his team is struggling against fierce economic headwinds to marshal a bare majority that relies less on converting ambivalent swing voters than on maximizing turnout and the president’s advantage among his core supporters.

Crunching the numbers leads Brownstein to this conclusion:

Because of the steady growth of the minority population and Romney’s failure so far to crack those voters, Obama could prevail in November with an 80/40 solution: winning about 80 percent of the vote among minorities and about 40 percent among whites. Yet, hard times could put even that modest showing with whites beyond Obama’s reach. Heading into its final months, the 2012 campaign still looks like a titanic collision between the economy and demography.

Here’s something that’s not surprising, really, but worth mentioning again and again:

But as cultural and foreign-policy disputes between the parties have assumed greater prominence since the 1960s, Republicans have gained among blue-collar whites, and Democrats have made mirror-image inroads among white-collar whites, producing the class inversion. In 1988, 1992, and 1996, Dukakis and Clinton each ran almost equally well among college and noncollege whites. In 2000, Gore ran 4 percentage points better among college whites; Kerry widened the margin to 6 points; and in 2008 Obama ran 7 points better among college-educated than noncollege whites.

He points out too that if you want to understand the role religion plays in voting, you have to look at what voters do, rather than what they say. Voters who actually go to church (as opposed to merely identifying themselves to pollsters as “Catholic,” “Protestant,” etc.) are far more likely to vote Republican. Again, this isn’t news to people who follow these things, but it so often gets overlooked in discussions of religion and politics.

Brownstein goes on to say that the 2012 election may come down to whether or not Romney can motivated blue-collar whites to get to the polls for him in greater numbers than Obama can motivate white-collar whites to turn out for him. Demographic trends are on Obama’s side; unlike past election cycles, there are fewer blue-collar whites than white-collar whites.

It’s interesting that the Milton Himmelfarb’s imperishable wisecrack that “Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans” is increasingly true of college-educated whites.

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68 Comments To "This Jews-Episcopalians-Puerto-Ricans Election"

#1 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On September 3, 2012 @ 9:49 am

Given that organizations like Stormfront exist and I’ve seen literature dropped in my town, racism undoubtedly exists as a motivation. But I’m not sure how you could demonstrate racism as a motivation in specific parties or elections. Most people aren’t going to admit to it, and even David Duke referrers to his views as race realism.

You would probably need access to voter registration rolls and racist group member lists. The former are often confidential, while the latter aren’t going to hand out that information.

#2 Comment By M_Young On September 3, 2012 @ 9:54 am

Our entire electoral rights law based on the premise that ethnic groups vote for their own. White Americans are an ethnic group, there is no shame in preferring to be represented by one of your own to being ruled by someone from another population group.

BTW the barely functional [2] got [3] of the African-American vote in the general election. That is, after months of national exposure of his shortcomings, and with a viable (and white) Democratic candidate on the ballot as an independent.

#3 Comment By Theophilus On September 3, 2012 @ 11:12 am

I understand that the title of this post makes sense historically. But the demographic shifts at hand make mincemeat out of the “Episcopalian = Republican” equation, particularly among those Episcopalians who are in line with the views of of that denomination’s leadership caste. The Dems and the GOP really have swapped electoral bases (the Northeast and the South, the high churches and the low churches, etc.) since the mid-twentieth century.

#4 Comment By Connie On September 3, 2012 @ 11:18 am

Professionals who study race and voting patterns look at the differences in votes for Kerry, who ran a significantly more liberal campaign than Obama, and see racism. Blacks voted for Obama in about the same percentages as they did for Kerry and Clinton (not sure about Gore). Whites in some states, e.g., Louisiana and Alabama, were significantly less likely to vote for middle of the road Obama than they had for Kerry four years early. (And don’t argue that Hillary Clinton supporters turned to the McCain/Palin ticket.)

Like Pauline Kael, who couldn’t believe any one voted for Nixon, Rod can’t believe that any of his white Louisiana friends are racist.

#5 Comment By JonF On September 3, 2012 @ 11:28 am

M_Young: Alan Keyes has never had significant support from his own ethnic group. And do you imagine Hermann Cain would have done any better with black folk had Obama not been president?
Simply saying “People vote for their own ethnic group” ignores the fact that people will not vote for someone of their own ethnic group whom they perceive as inimical to their interests (key word: ‘perceive”)

#6 Comment By Tyro On September 3, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

As per your last point, although I am not an avid listener of Rush Limbaugh (though, unlike some dissident conservatives, I do not indulge in ostentatious denunciations of him in order to prove my “thinking conservative” bona fides), I would only suggest that not all critiques of his politics are of equal value.

I don’t think it’s unfair to point out that the dynamic of the last 30 years, and especially the dynamic of the last 4 years, has been about white voters angry that “they” hate “us” and that “we” are under siege from “them”, and that this man is the white house is going to take our money and [4]

People really do believe that the Obama administration has sparked a war against white people by roving gangs of violent blacks. As I said, I can’t say for sure, because voting is private, but I’m pretty sure they’re pulling the lever for Romney.

I consider myself fairly tolerant of what I guess I would call “casual racism” or “generational racism”– at least, those sorts of sentiments uttered by people simply because they are perceived to be socially acceptable to articulate or simply because they see social and economic dynamics in terms of ethnic and racial rivalries. I don’t condemn them all as hood-wearing cross-burners. But at the very least I’m willing to acknowledge that it exists. While some people are trying to convince me that this is “playing the race card” or whatever.

#7 Comment By J On September 3, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

Making more money statistically makes you more Republican.

True. But it bears pointing out that the top income bracket (10%, 5%, 1%) voters are well studied and the percentage that votes Democratic has grown slowly but steadily since 1980 in each of them.

I like looking at the wedding page of Town & Country. Twenty years ago 95% of the people depicted there were white and 90%+ of the last names were of recognizable British Isles or Dutch or French or Jewish origin. These days it’s maybe a third non-white, with lots of Latin American Spanish and some Russian and miscellaneous ethnic European and Asian last names.

Some regular posters here may want to consider this as they assert desperately that this is a country of, by, and for whites. No actual American elite class, be that of academia or artistic/religious or of wealth/power, harbors this belief anymore.

That we still attribute Republican dominance among a certain set of lower-class whites demonstrates a failure of imagination on the part of Democratic strategists and observers.

I think you’re not giving proper credit and connotations to the very succinct term “stupid”. In Democratic inner circles The Stupids are a picturesque and often grotesque core opposition tribe. They’re a lifestyle and an ideology that must be experienced because it can’t be rationally described. They represent a demand for honor that can’t be refuted nor respected with sincerity. They stick together against a world they find hostile to their desires but which has so far been charitable about their existence. They reject all entreaties except that the country be governed by one of their own. They hate ‘elites’ yet embrace and endure any hierarchy so long as there is no ‘elite’ at its top.

I have a neighbor who put an otherwise anodyne “Vote against the Stupids” bumper sticker on his Prius in iirc 2004 or 2005. He went on a trip to the rural Midwest to visit relatives. All the swearing, death threats, middle fingers, and attempts to run him off the road he got from mostly SUV drivers there led him to never do that again. These people seemed to have a pretty rigid and uniform interpretation that he was insulting them personally.

#8 Comment By M_Young On September 3, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

Okay JonF, how’s about ‘our entire electoral rights law’ is based on the premise that ethnic groups vote in their own group interest.’ In real life, as opposed to Heritage Institute conferences, that mostly works out as one of ‘your own’. In my own county journeymen white Democrat politicians are slowly but surely [5] (or [6]) as ‘ethnic’ politicians take over.

#9 Comment By Tyro On September 3, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

I think you’re not giving proper credit and connotations to the very succinct term “stupid”. In Democratic inner circles The Stupids are a picturesque and often grotesque core opposition tribe. They’re a lifestyle and an ideology that must be experienced because it can’t be rationally described. They represent a demand for honor that can’t be refuted nor respected with sincerity. They stick together against a world they find hostile to their desires but which has so far been charitable about their existence. They reject all entreaties except that the country be governed by one of their own.

I think that these attitudes are “stupid,” but insisting and demanding that your particular lifestyle/tribe must be “honored” and catered to is pretty much a fairly mainstream (if provincial and particular of a certain American subculture) attitude.

What differentiates them is that the US and its mass culture and political culture pretty much did cater to them exclusively for most of the 20th century, and when the country started to acknowledge and cater to other American subcultures in addition to theirs, they suddenly became extremely defensive and extremely angry.

And this insistence and spiteful nature plays itself out in our political culture. No politician runs around pretending to like hip-hop or talk about how he’s a fan of artisanal locally-made cheese. He could even get away with saying how he prefers Led Zeppelin and McDonald’s. But a politician who says he’s not into hunting and has no interest in NASCAR? The guy would be crucified–the voters always think that if you don’t do what they do, then you’re implicitly attacking them. You need to at least pretend to like what they like because it “shows respect”– they lack the experience of spending generations being “different than the mainstream” that they can’t abide by anyone who regards them as anything other than “real Americans.”

That is one of the reasons I like Obama– he’s one of the few politicians of lifetime (in either party) who didn’t waste time trying to adopt these various cultural markers that national politicians are “expected” to adopt.

#10 Comment By Don Quijote On September 3, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

“The demographics race we’re losing badly, We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.)

Those are the words of one of the leading lights of the Republican Party…

[7]

But now we have this news: According to the Huffington Post and CNN, two attendees at the convention in Tampa were asked to leave the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday after throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman and saying to her: ”This is how we feed the animals.”

CNN reported that multiple witnesses saw this happen, and police immediately escorted the two people out. But the damage has been done.

Yeah, there is no racism in the Republican Party…

Wednesday marks the 16th anniversary of President Clinton’s welfare overhaul. That law has become a major issue in this year’s presidential campaign.

Republican Mitt Romney keeps saying that President Obama has gutted the law, even though every major fact-checking organization says the attacks are false.

Romney rolled out his line of attack two weeks ago in an ad that says: “On July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”

Since then, it’s become a constant refrain in more ads and on the stump.

No racial undertone there, if you have any doubts see Lee Atwater

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 3, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

President Obama missed the boat on what kind of realignment his candidacy offered. Once elected, he tried to reach out to the Republican leadership. They had NO motive or intention of cooperating with the president who threatened to undermine their demographics by pulling some portion of what they had patronizingly cultivated as their core constituency. He needed to reach OVER THEIR HEADS to the people genuinely interested in what he offered.

Now, wounded by the misguided attempt, he’s retreated into pleasing core Democratic constituencies, and this is inevitably dissing voters who feel the drumbeat about “right-wing reactionaries” is directed at them. He’ll get through this election by the skin of his teeth, and our nation will be better off because he did, but if he’d played his cards better, he’d be looking at a 55-60 percent majority.

#12 Comment By JonF On September 3, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

Re: In real life, as opposed to Heritage Institute conferences, that mostly works out as one of ‘your own’.

How do you account for white guys like me who voted for Obama? We are not exactly rare you know. And I consider myself (with one exception) Classic American, Yankee version: Puritan ancestors dating back to the 1640s, an ancestor who signed the Declaration, a tiny touch of Native American in the family tree, a great-great-grandfather who fell fighting for the Union in the Late Unpleasantness, some German blood, a father who, er, liberated some French wine cellars and kept up the morale of some mademoiselles in WWII…
The one exception is the fact that I am an Orthodox Christian which is not Classic American. But can you see given the above pedigree I get a bit miffed with the notion that because I live in an east coast city and I am not voting for Republicans I am somehow not a “real American”?

#13 Comment By Noah172 On September 4, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

JonF at 9/3 10:12,

In contemporary American culture, people like you are permitted to think for yourselves (well, at least provided that you stay within the bounds of “respectable” opinion). Given your pedigree, you do not meet the contemporary definition of minority (unless you happen to be homosexual, or part of some other approved Victim group). Self-conscious minorities, in our politics, by and large participate tribally in the political system — and, moreover, such tribalism is encouraged both by white liberals and by the “leaders” (often self-appointed) of the minorities’ respective “communities,” and even by the ordinary members of these minorities. For instance, a black Republican, to most blacks and many liberal whites, is an Uncle Tom or “house n****r”. By contrast, it is sternly forbidden for whites (especially WASPs) in this day and age to have a vocabulary for “race traitors” who favor policies at odds with the interests of their larger racial/ethnic community — even though, like it or not, more than a few whites in this country are indeed concerned about the future of white Americans as a whole, as opposed to narrow focus on one’s individual benefits in the here and now.

I should note that I do not want white Americans to articulate their group concerns in terms as crude as “house n****r”. Rather, I would just like it to be acceptable for whites to express, in a calm, forthright manner, what they believe to be politically benefical to them as a people, just as it is perfectly acceptable for blacks to talk about what is good for blacks, Jews to talk about what is Good For The Jews (which really is a common Jewish expression), and every other Victim group to push for their interests.

#14 Comment By J On September 4, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

He needed to reach OVER THEIR HEADS to the people genuinely interested in what he offered.

That’s actually what Hillary Clinton was doing during the primary by going to moderate Republican women. She was attempting to create a wedge to break up the Republican unity against her prior to being elected.

Obama’s people declared this heresy and apostasy and a betrayal. And it worked because there were large enough Leftist Democratic constituencies that felt they were due a lot more and viscerally can’t stand the moderate Republicans HRC was targeting. (Leftists and center Rightists really can’t stand each other. Nor can Rightists and center Leftists.)

I’ve regarded Obama as in many ways penny wise and pound foolish ever since. Attacking the weakness HRC deliberately chose to create as a risk (though with great potential payoff) cost her dearly, winning him the Presidency. But doing it as Obama and his people did guaranteed his relative ineffectuality in office by forcing him into a strategy of trying to appease Republican politicians due to never having any pull with Republican voters. This was to not understand the generational or Culture War as it stood in 2008, as Obama didn’t during the primary (see the McClurkin affair) and doesn’t really to this day. He understands the pre-1992 Culture War, as shown by the Reverend Wright matter.

Basically Obama prevailing meant the more conservative, selfimportant, and dumb half of the Democratic Party won the office and in spiting the more liberal half of the Party sacrificed much of the power to enact reforms. In retrospect it’s not even clear the Obama half of the Party believed in these as realities. This present election is to a large degree a popular review and verdict on choices made in the Democratic primary four and half years ago.

#15 Comment By J On September 4, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

How do you account for white guys like me who voted for Obama?

I suspect you got a President very close to your makeup in Jimmy Carter.

#16 Comment By J On September 4, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

What differentiates them is that the US and its mass culture and political culture pretty much did cater to them exclusively for most of the 20th century, and when the country started to acknowledge and cater to other American subcultures in addition to theirs, they suddenly became extremely defensive and extremely angry.

Other groups can accept it not being their turn to have their favorite running things. These people perceive government by ‘elites’ as existentially dangerous, as a calamity they might not survive every time.

After all, the ‘elites’ might increase the intelligence level and kinds of information and correctly filled out and certifed paperwork needed to be a competent citizen drastically in short time frames i.e. months or a year or two.

The hallucination that accompanies this is that government-employed men with guns will show up at your house and put you in jail for protesting and not complying with the changes because you don’t understand them and they frighten you.

#17 Comment By M_Young On September 4, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

JonF… where did I say you weren’t a ‘real American’.

And the answer to your question as to how to account for th 40% of white male gentiles who voted for Obama is way too complex to answer here. I do think that being a white male Democrat is a long-term losing strategy. Then again, white-self hate is so strong (see Chris Matthews, Kathleen Parker, etc) maybe you want to lose.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 4, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

Like naturalmom says, if you overlap all the truisms about who votes how and why, you have such a tangled mess that it doesn’t really explain anything. Someone or other denied one of the truisms, and maybe that person doesn’t believe it, but its one of the things being said (not naturalmom’s original contribution), and that flat denial just makes everything more confused.

Face it, left, right, center, white collar, blue collar, atheist, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, we are a bunch of ornery individuals. The most pundits can say is that more voters of this or that type tend to vote more this way or that way, but others the opposite.

Two Sundays ago I dropped into a small Baptist church in a city I was visiting, and observed a list of beliefs, starting with “the Divine Inspiration of Holy Scriptures” and running through such standards as “all people are sinners and must be born again” to “in separation of church and state.” I complimented the pastor on the way out, and he said “Of course, the words ‘separation of church and state’ are from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist church.”

True that. I wonder if Jerry Falwell knew it?

I have a notion why angry white males vote Republican: they don’t have strong unions to inspire them to channel their anger more constructively.