Why you can’t blame it all on the South

Timothy Noah adds a bit more to the important analysis that John offered today, titled “What We Didn’t Overcome: Why you can’t blame it all on the South”:

Obama won the white vote in 18 states and in Washington, D.C. All 18 states lie outside the South, and most are predictably liberal. (New York, Vermont, etc.). But Obama lost the white vote in eight of the states where he won the overall popular vote. That’s no great surprise in North Carolina or Virginia, the two Southern states Obama carried, or even in Pennsylvania or Ohio, where white working-class voters were known to be resistant. It’s a little surprising in Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico. All three states have Democratic governors and Democratically controlled state legislatures.

That is, Obama lost the white vote in 60+ percent (32) of the states. And, of course, whites are the largest group of voters, and Senator Obama lost them at about the same rate as Gore in 2000, by 12 percentage points.

— In the worst economic meltdown since the 1930s so far and likely getting worse, with many retirement pensions way down by 30-50 percent, with massively declining health care, and two disastrous wars–all substantially the result of the “white Republican” party’s (and especially its wealthy supporters’) decisions in its 8 years in power…..

Attention mass media, you should do major stories on this: White racism is not dead in the US.

Whitewashing the Election Results?

As you’ve probably heard or read about by now, many commentators and analysts (see here) have announced that there was no evidence of a “Bradley Effect” (or more accurately called the “white racism” effect). Obama’s victory was indeed monumental, and more whites supported him than John Kerry in 2004. Pollsters like Blumenthal at Pollster.com have declared the results “unambiguous” in the rejection of any Bradley Effect. Still, there were 22% of U.S. counties that increased their vote for Republican John McCain, and they are concentrated in places like my home state, Arkansas (see here). Obama actually did ten points worse among white women than John Kerry did in 2004. Some I’ve talked to here think that was due to a “Hillary Effect,” but I don’t buy that, given her endorsement and campaigning for him, as well as their policy similarities. See the following table, which breaks down the white votes for states in the southern/southeastern U.S. (McCain’s percent is listed first in each category):


AL —– 88-9—– 88-12—– 88-10

AR —– 68-30—– 67-31—– 68-30

FL—– 55-42—– 57-42—– 56-42

GA—– 78-21—– 74-26—– 76-23

KY—– 64-34—– 63-36—– 63-36

LA—– 83-16—– 85-13—– 84-14

MS—– 90-9—– 87-13—– 88-11

SC—– 76-23—– 70-29—– 73-26

TN—– 64-31—– 63-36—– 63-34

As Blumenthal has noted, it’s difficult to tell if the Bradley Effect was a factor in these states, since so few polls were taken in these states—being considered safe states for McCain quite early during the cycle. However, the few polls I have reviewed do suggest that white support was higher in the polls than what occurred on Election Day. But regardless whether the Bradley Effect was involved or not, what explains such overwhelming support of McCain over Obama in these states? I think that there is a whitewash in effect for yet another slice (certainly an important one) of U.S. history, in which powerful whites interpret an event that credits whites for its successes (while often marginalizing nonwhites for the successes or even demonizing nonwhites for the failures; see the Prop 8 coverage, as Jessie discussed or atfor example ).

Obama’s victory in Florida, for example, was essentially due to his support from Latino/a voters. Second, I think there is yet another attempted denial of white racism, still alive and well in our society. This election certainly presented us evidence of regional—as well as generational, educational, community type, etc.—differences among whites and how it affects their voting patterns. White denials of racism require selective consciousness and attention to events. Now we have to listen to commentators discuss the “end of racism,” despite the evidence in the data that it indeed persists.

(Note from Joe: also see the correlational analysis by Charles Franklin of the black vote versus the total white vote. He concludes thus:

There is considerable variation in the percentage of whites who voted for Obama. Where African Americans made up less than 20% of the vote (according to exit polls), whites varied from 30% to 60% in their support for Obama but with no relationship to the size of the African American vote. As the African American electorate rose above 20%, white support for Obama fell sharply to barely 10%.