Post Election Analysis: Outside the South, Obama Gets Almost Half of the White Vote

In an earlier post, I said that Barack Obama might have gotten half of the white vote OUTSIDE the South. Based on my review of exit poll information, Obama missed the 50% mark by a whisker, getting 49.7% of the white vote outside the South-versus just 30.2% of the white vote in the South.

Nationwide, Obama got 43% of the white vote. By contrast, John Kerry got 41% of the white vote when he ran for president in 2004.

Thanks to some great work at the site Gene Expression in the post The Great White Sort, we have consolidated information from exit polls about the white vote in the presidential election. I used that to prepare two tables about the white vote for Obama.

TABLE 1, which is below, shows the white vote outside the South; TABLE 2 shows the white southern vote. Note the contrasts in the voting numbers.

Some comments on the white vote outside the South:

• Obama got the highest percentage of white votes in his native state of Hawaii. He got a whopping 70% of the white vote there.

• Obama got 50% or more of the white vote in the mega-states of California (52% of the white vote), New York (52%), and Illinois (51%).

• Obama’s worst performances were in Utah (31%), Alaska (32%), and Wyoming (32%). In Arizona, Obama got 40% of the white vote.

• Several states with small minority populations, all in New England and the Northwest, provided Obama with a very large share of the white vote: Vermont (68%), Maine (58%), Rhode Island (58%), Massachusetts (57%), New Hampshire (54%), Oregon (60%), Washington (59%).

• In New England, the MidAtlantic, the industrial Midwest, and the West Coast, Obama clearly won the majority of the white vote. He did worse in the Mountain and Midwest Plains states.

• I came to the 49.7% non-southern white vote number using exit poll data, and a weighted average based on the white population of the states. I also used a weighted average to get to the 30.2% number for the white southern vote.

Some comments on the white southern vote:

• Clearly, Obama did poorly among white southern voters. The difference in the voting numbers between the regions is stunning and remarkable.

• One key is that Obama did practically no campaigning or ad spending in the South after the primary elections, with the notable exceptions of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia – states which Obama won thanks to a strong African American and Hispanic vote. The Obama campaign basically ceded those other southern states to McCain.

• The electorates in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi may have been especially polarized due to some state and local elections. In Alabama and Mississippi, black candidates were running for US Senate seats against Republican incumbents. In Louisiana, black candidates were running as Democrats or independents in three congressional districts. These races, plus the Obama run, may have… I’ll use the word “energized”… white Republican voters in those states to do straight ticket voting.

• White southerners are the strongest supporters of the Republican Party, so these results are not unprecedented. I have not looked at the 2004 presidential results, but Kerry may have done equally as bad, or worse, among white voters that year.

Source for two tables below: The Great White Sort post at the Gene Expressions site.

TABLE 1: White Vote for Obama Outside the South

non-south-wite-vote1

TABLE 2: White Vote for Obama in the South

south-white-vote

Note: Text versions of the two tables are here. The tables are presented as graphics in this post because WordPress had problems rendering the pages correctly in several web browsers when I included the information in HTML tables.

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Post Election Analysis: The Myth That “They Only Voted For Obama Because He’s Black.”

I’ve seen this comment over and over again on the Internet and other sources: “black people voted for Obama for the sole reason that he’s black.” But that thinking doesn’t stand-up to the evidence.

Consider the black vote for these white candidates for president, as noted in a report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies:
• Lyndon Johnson, 1964: 94% of the African American vote
• Al Gore, 2000: 90%
• John Kerry, 2008: 88%

As these numbers indicate, African Americans have been voting for white Democratic presidential contenders at an 88-90% rate for decades. So a large black vote for Obama was not unprecedented.

Obama did get a very very high percentage of the black vote – 95%, according to exit polls – but this was to be expected no matter which Democrat was running. Current president George Bush is extremely unpopular with African Americans, due to such issues as the handling of the Katrina disaster, and the very bad economic environment for blacks.

That probably caused the Republicans to lose the small sliver of black support they’ve received in the past 40-50 years.

So again, any Democrat running for president – black, white, purple, green – was going to benefit from a huge share of the black vote.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that having an African American to vote for president, after years of supporting white Democrat contenders, generated an overwhelming level of enthusiasm in the black community. Obama’s candidacy and campaign led to the registration of thousands of black voters, and probably a record black turnout. According to exit polls, blacks constituted 13 percent of the electorate, a 2 percentage-point gain over 2004, and the actual increase may be more than that.

If black voters had been equally enthused for Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004, the results for those elections may have been quite different.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the white vote for this election.

Satire: Obama as Batman, McCain as The Penguin

The McCain campaign recently ran a political ad asking “do you know Barack Obama?” and taking him to task for his “friendship” with Bill Ayers.

The McCain ad is here:

The whole Obama/Ayers guilt by association smear has been thoroughly debunked; look here for an example.

But leave it to the Internet to find an amusing rejoinder to the McCain ad, this time via a reference to the campy version of Batman from the 1960s:

The whole thing was taken to the extreme, witness this:

Thanks to the Blacksonville Community Network for the pic.

Black Partisanship Trends, Pre-Election

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies recently conducted a National Opinion Poll which surveyed 750 African American adults from across the country. The survey was conducted between September 16 and October 6, 2008. The survey covers a range of topics including the politics of the 2008 election and various issues, including education.

This is a breakdown of the partisan identification for those in the survey:

African American Political Party Identification – 2000, 2004, 2008

Source: The 2008 Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies National Opinion Poll
Note: The table shows the percentage of survey respondents who consider themselves to be Democrat, Independent, or Republican. The numbers in the “Total” column reflect the count of persons who were surveyed.

Democratic identification among African Americans has grown from 63% in 2004 to 73% now. The percentage of blacks who identify themselves as Republican is down from 10% in 2004 to 4% now.

And what is the voter preference for president? From the Survey:

Suppose the 2008 Presidential election were being held today. Who would you like to see win, the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama or the Republican candidate, John McCain?
• Obama: 84%
• McCain: 6%
• Don’t Know: 10%

Republicans in Pennsylvania Warn Jewish Voters That Obama Will Lead to Another Holocaust

In order for John McCain to win the presidential election, he has to win in one or two key northern states. So the McCain campaign is pulling out all the stops to eke out a win in places like Pennsylvania, for example.

What does “pulling out all the stops” look like? How about this:

AP, PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania Republicans are disavowing an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that likens a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust.

“Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008,” the e-mail reads. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let’s not make a similar one this year!”

A copy of the e-mail, provided by Democratic officials, says it was “Paid for by the Republican Federal Committee of PA – Victory 2008.”

The story from the Associated Press notes that the Pennsylvania Republican Party was for the mailing before they were against it:

Political consultant Bryan Rudnick, identified as the strategist who helped write the message, was reached Saturday night and confirmed he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.

“I had authorization from party officials” to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. “I’m not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I’m not naming names right now,” he said.

This comes on the heels of the story of an attempted hoax by McCain campaign volunteer Ashley Todd in Pittsburgh. Todd, a 20-year-old college student , had claimed that she was mugged at an ATM by a large black man who, upon seeing a McCain sticker on her car, scratched the letter “B” — for “Barack” — on her face.

If that story sounds unreal, it’s because it was. Todd has since admitted it was all a hoax.

Questions remian, though, about the complicity of the Republican Party in publicizing the hoax to the press. As reported at the website Talking Points Memo (TPM):

John McCain’s Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established — and even told reporters outright that the “B” carved into the victim’s cheek stood for “Barack,” according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”

Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the “B” stood for Barack. According to Verrilli, the spokesperson also told KDKA that Sarah Palin had called the victim of the alleged attack, who has since admitted the story was a hoax.

The McCain spokesperson’s claims… (are) significant because it reveals a McCain official pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time.

It seems that the communications staff for the Pennsylvania Republican Party has been very busy lately.

Fortunately, the hoax was revealed before the police went on a witch hunt to find a “big black guy” who might have been responsible for the fake assault.

It seems that the Republican Party has a history of using scare tactics in western Pennsylvania.

I’ve spoken with a lot of folks about this. Are these acts by the McCain campaign racist? No, not intentionally. But it does show that, in this time of desperation, some members of the McCain campaign have lost their moral compass, and will in fact say anything and do anything to get their candidate elected. I hope the voters are taking notice.

Brief Notes on McCain v Obama, Debate Three

Presidential Debate 3 is history. And once again, polling indicates Obama was the clear winner. Let me offer a few thoughts.

After seeing this debate, my main feeling is, “thank god they’re over.” This was the most heated debate, but I prefer discussions that are cool, calm, and substantive. Several times, I thought it was going to devolve into a “Crossfire” type verbal confrontation. It never came to that; but I bet the media was just salivating at the possibility.

And there was a reason this debate was heated: McCain and Obama actually talked to each other. In Debate 1, McCain wouldn’t even look at Obama. In Debate 2, the townhall format limited their interaction.

In this debate, they did go eye to eye, and neither guy blinked… almost.

It’s unfortunate for McCain that he just doesn’t project well on TV. I watched some of the debate on C-SPAN, which did a split-screen display of the two candidates. Obama seemed cool, serious and unperturbed. By contrast, McCain seemed to have a nervous, self-conscious smile during much of the debate, and several times, his facial gestures seemed contorted and bothered by ticks or blinks.



I literally feel bad for him. It’s unfair that his lack of a good game face hurts him in this visual medium. But as McCain himself has said, life can be unfair.

Having said that, this was his best performance by far. Again, MacCain’s willingness to engage in discussion with Obama, instead of just looking past him, made a difference. But it now seems like a case of too much, too little, too late… if only he had done that starting in the first debate.

The reference to “Joe the Plumber” is a clever ruse by the Republican Party. The idea is to paint JTP as an average American who’d be harmed by Obama’s tax policy.

But in fact, JTP is no average Joe. His complaint is that he’ll pay more taxes if his business income exceeds $250,000. That’s not an income typical of Joe Six Pack; in fact, only the top 5% of Americans earn that much.

Comparing the experiences of JTP with J6P is an apples to oranges comparison: JTP is rich; J6P is struggling and would certainly benefit more from the Obama tax plan than the McCain tax plan.

I don’t know if people got that. But I suspect that this will get figured out in the next few days or so. And JTP, enjoy your few moments of fame, such as they are.

The worst part of the night for me was the discussion, no, the bickering, over negative campaigning and unfair attacks. No real issues were addresseed, no profound insights were made, no hidden truths were uncovered. Just two guys arguing over who was worse than the other.

I did find it interesting that McCain, perhaps out of a moment of anger, said of Bill Ayers “I don’t care about that washed-up terrorist”…yet he immediately followed that by saying, “I want to know the full truth abut their relationship.”

But John, if you don’t care about Ayers, then why do you care to know more about his “relationship” with Obama?

Message to the McCain campign: polls show the vast majority of Americans people don’t care about Ayers. Find another line of attack… if you can.

I can’t understand why several members of the press/GOP thought that McCain’s “I’m not George Bush” statement was such a big deal. Maybe it seemed like that because McCain said it so forcefully.

But look. Of course people know McCain isn’t Bush. But most people also know or perceive by now that McCain has voted with Bush over 95% of the time the past few years. A major problem for McCain is that, despite saying he’s a maverick, he hasn’t shown where he’s different from Bush in any area that matters (or at least, that matters to people who aren’t Republicans or conservatives). For example, he’s still all in with the Republican belief that Roe v. Wade must be overturned.

It’s not enough for McCain to say he’s not George Bush. He needs to show how he’s different from George Bush. I don’t believe he made that case. But I’m glad the pundidts liked the compelling way he made his losing argument.

Let me say it again: Obama is unflappable.

I couldn’t identify a single game changer for McCain tonight. Once again, Obama showed he was knowledgeable, articulate, bright, and presidential… hardly the empty suit, wide-eyed radical, or “foreigner” that the Republicans have tried to portray him as.

McCain had promised a Republican crowd that he was going to kick Obama’s “you know what.” But after the deabte was over, his supporters were no doubt wondering, “what is the what that John McCain was talking about?”

That was then: John McCain says John Lewis “can teach us all a lot.”

This past August, John McCain and Barack Obama attended a forum hosted by pastor Rick Warren. Warren asked McCain to name three wise who would be relied upon in his administration. This is part of McCain’s response:

WARREN: This first set of questions deals with leadership and the personal life of leadership. The first question, who are the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration?

MCCAIN: First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq, one of the great leaders…

I think John Lewis. John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, had his skull fractured, continued to serve, continues to have the most optimistic outlook about America. He can teach us all a lot about the meaning of courage and commitment to causes greater than our self- interest.

It seems that the McCain campaign hasn’t taken too well to Lewis’ latest advice.

UPDATE: As noted in the above link, the McCain campaign was angered by John Lewis’s statement that “the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign” is “sowing the seeds of hatred and division,” and was reminiscent of the harsh rhetoric of former Alabama governor, and arch-segregationist, George Wallace.

Suffice it to say, McCain and Palin are nothing like George Wallace. I think it’s a mistake to use Wallace’s name in the same breath as the two Republican candidates for President and Vice-President. That kind of talk makes McCain look like the victim.

But at the same time, I have no doubt that Lewis’ comments were heartfelt. I’ve noticed that many, many, many black folks over the age of 60 (such as my mother) have a very real fear that Barack Obama will be assassinated. These are the folks who remember the killings of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and the four little girls in a Birmingham church.

The virulent anti-Obama frenzy that’s being whipped-up lately is making a lot of people scared. I don’t know if the McCain camp gets that.