Election Winners and Losers

Here are my own election winners and losers, plus some “too early to tell” entries.

Winners:

Barack Obama. Duh. This Hawaiian born and bred biracial intellectual with minimal experience has become perhaps the most unique and remarkable politician in American history. Now we’ll see if he can fix the mess that George Bush and congressional Republicans have made of this country.

Michelle Obama. The Right tried to demonize her into being an anti-white angry black woman who does terrorist fist bumps with her pals-with-terrorists husband. But like her husband, the more you saw of her, the better you felt about her.

I think she benefitted from not being a silent trophy wife; her speech at the Democratic National Convention and numerous media appearances showed her to be articulate, smart, and personable. I have no doubt that America is embracing her as the new First Lady.

Democrats in the Southeast: Who would have predicted even two years ago that a black Democratic presidential candidate would win in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida? And how about the fact that Virginia and North Carolina both sent Democrats to the US Senate this year?

The bottom line is, the southeast has become a new battleground for the parties, after being owned by Republicans the prior two elections. And they could have more success there in the future, if they play their cards right.

Democrats in the Industrial Midwest: The last two northern Democrats to be nominated as presidential candidates were both from Massachusetts. They both lost. This year a candidate from the Midwest gave it a try, and found success.

Observers are saying that the proximity of red states like Iowa and Indiana to Obama’s “home” state of Illinois was a factor in his victories there. I bet that a lot of Democrats from the Midwest are looking at themselves in the mirror and thinking, maybe I’m next.

At least, Obama’s victory disturbs the conventional wisdom that only a southern Democrat has a chance of winning a presidential election.

Organized Labor: Make no mistake, labor put a lot of money and manpower into this election. The Democrats’ success in Pennsylvania and other Great Lakes states is owed in part to their efforts.

Now we’ll see what organized labor wants, and how much they can get from Obama and the Congress. A bail-out for the auto industry seems first on the list.

Internet Based Campaigning: The Obama campaign has become a legend in its own time thanks to its masterful use of the Internet to organize, communicate, and raise money. By the next presidential cycle, everybody will be doing it-or at least, they’ll try.

Cornell Belcher and Leah Daughtry: You probably don’t know these two black technocrats who work for the Democratic Party, but you should.

Cornell Belcher is the first African American to serve as polling director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Belcher was also a pollster for the Obama campaign. He had the insight that the Democrats could find enough pockets of strength that even a black man could win the presidency. And he was right. (Although he would be the first to say that the toxic environment for Republicans was a huge key to this election.)

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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.

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.

Video: Joint Center Forum on the Election

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the premier research and public policy institutions – also known as “think tanks” – concern political, economic, and health issues of interest to African Americans and other people of color.

The Joint Center conducted a forum right after the election which provides a number of great insights on what this means for American politics and society. The speakers include Ronald Walters, a professor in government and politics at the University of Maryland and an advisor to Jesse Jackson during his campaigns for President; and David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center and an expert on African Americans in American politics.

The video is long, but if you can listen for 10-30 minutes at least, you’ll find it interesting, informative, and provocative:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/841113

Post Election Political Miscellany @ 11/7/08

Barack Obama won the election for president thanks to huge winning margins among black and Hispanic voters. This is from exit poll survey results on the CNN website:

vote-by-sex-and-race
Source: CNN/National Exit Poll

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

But here’s the thing about the white vote. The electoral map for this election is shown below. The blue sates were won by Obama, the red states by John McCain. Note that, the darker the color, the greater the margin of victory for each of the states:

map-electoral-voting

John McCain won a swath of “deep red” states stretching from Texas and Oklahoma in the southwest to Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama in the southeast. I would bet that outside the South, Obama won half or more of the white vote-a fact that might indicate something about race relations and racial politics in the South versus the rest of the country.
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Hats Off to Black Radio’s Tom Joyner for His Get Out the Vote Efforts

The very effective use of the Internet by the Obama campaign, and the role of the Internet in this election season, have gotten a lot of attention, and deservedly so.

But an old mainstay of the black community – black radio – has, as usual, has played an important role in informing and mobilizing black voters.

The Nation magazine talks about the great work being done by radio DJ Tom Joyner (paid subscription required to read the full article):

In October, as trumped-up accusations of voter fraud swirled around ACORN, another national grassroots voter registration drive aimed at low-income and ethnic communities steamed along, under the radar of the mainstream press and the Republican operatives hoping to challenge such efforts.

Called 1-866-MYVOTE1, it is headed by African-American disc jockey Tom Joyner. His Tom Joyner Morning Show, fourteen years old this year, broadcasts nationwide on 115 radio stations, reaching more than 8 million weekday listeners. His website, blackamericaweb.com, receives 3.5 million page views per month.

…Joyner downplays rhetoric endorsing individual candidates–he supports Obama but has made no official endorsement–in favor of touting the 1-866-MYVOTE1 campaign as a nonpartisan effort to provide voter registration and polling place information and to give his listeners a way of reporting, in real time, problems they encounter at their local balloting place. Listen to his program daily and you will hear relentless references to 1-866-MYVOTE1, all delivered in cheery language free of rancor.

“Politics is never a sexy subject,” Joyner said in a phone interview from his Dallas studio in early October. “We’re in the business of reaching as many people as we can. That’s how we stay in business. But in taking up topics like politics and health, or unemployment or the economy, we’ve found that our formula for success is to put humor with it.”

In his twice-weekly “Trickery Updates,” he turns to Ken Smukler, a political and technology consultant in Philadelphia, for jocular updates on signs of polling irregularities around the nation. Smukler built Joyner’s call-in voter information and poll-monitoring system after determining that two principal factors had contributed to problems at polls in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004: voters’ lack of information about the process and particulars of registering and voting, and the fact that many polling places lack the resources and well-trained staff to handle large numbers of voters.

I Hate Taxing the Rich, But They’re the Only Ones With Money

Barack Obama’s tax plan calls for a reduction of taxes on middle-class families (families that earn less than $250,000), and the ending of Bush’s tax cuts for the high income earners.

Is this “fair?” I don’t think anybody “wants” to pay taxes. But taxes are a necessary evil; in order for government to operate, someone has to pay them.

In considering how the tax burden should be distributed, these graphs provide some useful perspective:


Source: The American Prospect, October 2008

Income for the top 5% of income earners has gone up almost 100% since 1980, but the share of federal taxes they pay has gone up by less than 60% during that time.

I wish we didn’t have to tax the rich, or anybody. But since the 1980s, it seems they’re the only ones making more money.

OK, But What Do You Really Think About Black Folks Voting?

From a posting on DailyKos, Florida GOP County Chair: Help!Black People are Voting!!!:

There are days in Florida when you feel like you are living in the 19th Century. Here is part of the text of an e-mail sent by the Chairman of the Hillsborough Republican Party (this is county that contains Tampa).

THE THREAT:

HERE IN TEMPLE TERRACE, FL OUR REPUBLICAN HQ IS ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR LIBRARY, WHICH IS AN EARLY VOTING SITE.

I SEE CARLOADS OF BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR OBAMA. THIS IS THEIR CHANCE TO GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND THEY SEEM TO CARE LITTLE THAT HE IS AT MINIMUM, SOCIALIST, AND PROBABLY MARXIST IN HIS CORE BELIEFS. AFTER ALL, HE IS BLACK–NO EXPERIENCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS–BUT HE IS BLACK.

I ALSO SEE YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENTS AND THEIR PROFESSORS FROM USF PARKING THEIR CARS WITH THE PROMINENT ‘OBAMA’ BUMPER STICKERS. THE STUDENTS ARE ENTHUSIASTIC TO BE VOTING IN A HISTORIC ELECTION WHERE THERE MAY BE THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT.

Sigh…

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.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Colin Powell made a rousing, eloquent, and touching endorsement of Barack Obama today on Meet the Press.

It remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have.

I suspect that a lot of people will dismiss this endorsement, saying that the only reason Powell endorsed Obama is because both are black.

Others will say that Powell is getting back at the Republican Party in general, and the neo-conservatives who pushed the Iraq War in particular, for duping Powell into selling the “Iraq has WMD” story to the United Nations. That story turned out to be pure fiction, and Powell’s reputation took a huge blow as a result.

I think the Powell endorsement will resonate less with Americans than his actual endorsement comments-at least, for those who get a chance to hear his comments from Meet the Press.

His comments were moving, especially his condemnation of the anti-Muslim bigotry that is gripping this nation, and is especially putting a choke-hold on the blood-supply-to-the-brain of many McCain supporters.

In the end, the endorsement does something that is huge: it enables the Obama campaign to win a news cycle, when there are just 17 days until the election. As these days of lost opportunities for McCain to gain ground add up, it will become very difficult, and eventually impossible, for him to gain parity with Obama in the polls and in the voting booth.

From Colin Powell:

Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that (Obama) is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.

And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.

The Hate That Hate Produced: The Demonization of Barack Obama by the Republican Party

Conservative political pundit Charles Krauthammer is in what I call a state of disingenuous denial. Writing in the Washington Post, he said

Let me get this straight. A couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands yell something offensive and incendiary, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are not just guilty by association — with total strangers, mind you — but worse: guilty according to the New York Times of “race-baiting and xenophobia.”

…McCain has never said that, nor anything like that. When asked at the time to produce one instance of McCain deploying race, the Obama campaign could not. Yet here was Obama firing a preemptive charge of racism against a man who had not indulged in it. An extraordinary rhetorical feat, and a dishonorable one.

What makes this all the more dismaying is that it comes from Barack Obama, who has consistently presented himself as a healer, a man of a new generation above and beyond race, the man who would turn the page on the guilt-tripping grievance politics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

It’s quite true that McCain has kept his own hands clean of the scurrilous attacks that have been made on Obama. But Palin and other Republican surrogates have had no problems with doing the dirty work, a fact that Krauthammer conveniently ignores.

And their dirty work is plain to see. The Republicans have engaged, and are engaging, in a massive effort to demonize Obama.

As described here,

Demonization is the characterization of individuals, groups, or political bodies as evil or subhuman for purposes of justifying and making plausible an attack, whether in the form of character assassination, legal action, circumscribing of political liberties, or warfare.

That’s the theory. Here’s how the Republicans have put theory into practice.

This:

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Links of Interest: Black Viewers Tuning-In to the Election

A story at DailyKos.com, Signs of impending African American voter tidal wave, discusses the high interest of African American viewers in the election. The story notes that according to Neilson, ratings for the presidential debates have been especially high in metropolitan areas with a high percentage of African Americans.

An article from the Baltimore Sun, Debates drawing big TV audiences in Baltimore, notes that:

Among the Top 30 TV markets in the country, Baltimore has the second-highest percentage of black viewers at 27.1 percent. But for the (first two presidential and vice-presidential) debates, Nielsen figures show the black audience tracked higher than that, at about 38 percent of all viewers.

In the Baltimore area, ratings collectively were the highest in the country for the first two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate.

Baltimore ranked third nationally in viewership for the first debate, first for the vice presidential showdown and third for the second presidential debate – far outpacing even the nation’s steeped-in-politics capital 40 miles down the parkway. That’s a marked change from the 2004 race, when Baltimore did not finish in the top 10 TV markets for any debate.

“When you look at the ratings for the debates, the large number of black households in the market would have to be a major factor,” says Emerson Coleman, vice president of programming for Hearst-Argyle, which owns WBAL-Channel 11 in Baltimore.

In other markets where black households make up more than one-quarter of all TV homes, viewership for the recent debates was also among the strongest in the country – in metro areas including Memphis, Tenn.; Raleigh- Durham, N.C.; and Norfolk and the Richmond, Va., area.

Black viewers compelled by Obama’s candidacy are being drawn to national politics in a way not seen since the civil rights movement, several analysts said. In Baltimore, other factors could be at play, they said, such as the concentration of colleges, including historically black Coppin State and Morgan State universities.

“The reason, of course, is Barack Obama, who has made it possible for African-Americans to hope again,” said Sheri Parks, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, who specializes in the study of media, pop culture and African-American families. “Many African-Americans, and I am one of them, did not expect to see this in our lifetimes, an African-American who could be president, and you are not going miss any chance to see him on television.”

Because of its large percentage of black households, the Baltimore area became known in the TV industry in the 1990s as part of the “Cosby Belt.” The Cosby Show was a huge hit most everywhere, but scored exceptionally high ratings in Baltimore and cities demographically like it.

The debates are captivating people of all colors and creating newfound political junkies who are watching together at movie theaters, bars, churches, college dorms, restaurants and in private homes.

Obama as an Icon to Our Youth

People often ask, what does an Obama presidency mean for African Americans?

Black America is but one of many American constituencies that would compete for the attention of an Obama administration. It remains to be seen how African American interests, and those of other constituencies, would be addressed.

But there’s NO doubt about this: even now, Obama is a role model AND a beacon of hope for black youth.

Obama shows black children: if you are willing to work hard, commit to being studious, are not afraid of “sounding white,” and have courage, you too have a chance of being president.

Instead of looking to black athletes, comedians, and actors for career inspiration, now there is Barack Obama.

If the Obama campaign or an Obama presidency causes just 1 out of 1000 black youth to think differently about their future, that would be a great blessing for our children.